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Mercedes-Benz Vans headed for record 2018

Sprint to the finish: With the arrival of the X-Class ute (below) in April and new-generation Sprinter (left) around October, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia is expected to grow its sales this year from the 5421 it managed in 2017.

X-Class pick-up and new Sprinter van to spur sales growth in Mercedes-Benz Vans

Mercedes-Benz logo9 Feb 2018

By TUNG NGUYEN in GERMANY

MERCEDES-BENZ Vans’ local division is expected to achieve a record-high sales year in 2018 thanks to the launch of the premium X-Class ute in the booming pick-up market and the just-revealed new-generation Sprinter large van.

Last year the local light-commercial division of the luxury German marque sold 5421 vehicles led by the second-generation Sprinter (in its final full year on the market) on 2903, followed by the mid-size Vito van on 1240.

Also contributing to last year’s bottom line were the Marco Polo (50), Sprinter Bus (305), Valente (341) and premium V-Class people mover (582).

In April however, Mercedes will launch its first-ever ute in the form of the Nissan Navara-based X-Class from $45,450 before on-roads for the 120kW/403Nm 2.3-litre turbo-diesel X220d.

The range-topping 190kW/550Nm V6 diesel engine that is expected to be the model’s strongest seller will not arrive in Australian showrooms until mid-year where it will also sit atop the market as the most powerful ute on sale, out-muscling the likes of Volkswagen’s V6 Amarok (165kW/550Nm) and Ford’s recently-revealed 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel Ranger Raptor (157kW/500Nm).

Speaking to GoAuto at the international reveal of the Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand PR and corporate communications manager Blake Vincent would not be drawn on whether X-Class would take the lead from Sprinter and become the brand’s most-popular model, but conceded that “there is a lot of volume opportunity and it is a bigger marketplace”.

Last year, Toyota and Ford topped the Australian sales charts with 47,093 and 42,728 units sold of the HiLux and Ranger respectively, while the Mitsubishi Triton also managed to just scrape into the top 10 on 23,605.

The total 4x2 and 4x4 ute segment accounted for 207,615 sales over the 12 month period, representing around 17.5 per cent of 2017’s overall 1,189,116 new-car registrations.

Meanwhile, Mercedes managed to dominate the large-van segment with its Sprinter last year, easily outselling rivals including Renault’s Master (1636), the Volkswagen Crafter (468), the Fiat Ducato (1163) and Ford’s Transit (875).

Although Mr Vincent did not speculate on where Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia’s 2018 sales tally would finish, he predicted the new Sprinter (to be launched in the fourth quarter) would continue to sell well and that the X-Class would add incremental sales.

“Sprinter is definitely a key pillar for us, it’s been the icon of Mercedes-Benz Vans, it’s been the absolute go-to product,” Mr Vincent said.

“Sprinter still has an incredibly important position in our portfolio and X-Class is starting to change-up, in a positive way, how Mercedes-Benz Vans is structured though.

“We expect that the new X-Class will add additional volume and with Sprinter we will definitely aim to maintain our existing volume, but … there are a lot of new customer types we can target.

“There is a lot of potential upside on both products.”

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