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Kit, not crash test, delays Benz’s Citan van

Heavy load: Mercedes-Benz says until it gets the right product mix for Australia, the Citan commercial van won’t make any deliveries Down Under.

Talks over specification, engines, stall Mercedes-Benz’s three-star trade van

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Mercedes-Benz logo26 Jul 2013

By BARRY PARK

TALKS over the right level of equipment and choice of engines – and not a less-than-stellar crash test rating – are delaying the arrival of Mercedes-Benz’s Citan compact trade van.

Mercedes-Benz said this week it is yet to make a decision on when it will bring the Citan to Australia – despite the fact that it deviates from the German brand’s strong five-star crash safety message that it uses to put its commercial vehicle range ahead of the competition..

David McCarthy, the senior manager of corporate communications for the Australian arm of the brand, said the company was “still a bit up in the air” as to the timing of the Citan’s arrival, almost three months after the Benz-badged compact trade van scored an average three stars out of five result in independent European crash tests.

The April European New Car Assessment Program crash test for the Citan – a design that is based on Renault’s Kangoo, but tweaked at the front, rear and inside to resemble a Benz – spurred Mercedes-Benz Australia to put a hold on its program to bring the van here.

“We can’t give you a launch date yet,” Mr McCarthy said. “Of course it (the low crash test rating for the Citan) is a concern for us. It’s a factor in our decision, but the biggest issue we face with the vehicle, to be honest, is price and specification.

“We haven’t been able to – and this has been the main reason for the delay – obtain the spec (we want), ideally we’d like two wheelbase lengths and a couple of good engine choices, but we haven’t been able to lock those in.

“Until we get that – and at the end of the day it’s not going to be a big volume product to us, it’s something we want in the range – but the reality is until we get the spec and the price we want, we’ll see.”

Mr McCarthy said the Citan would only sell between 200 and 300 units a year, about the same as the number of Vito-based Viano people-movers the car-maker sold in Australia last year.

“It’s not a high priority in terms of the volume,” he said. “There’s interest in the vehicle, but there’s a lot of boxes to tick.

“It will come here, but we just don’t know when.”

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