Mercedes-Benz expanding Sprinter-compatible dealers
Daimler AG’s U.S. commercial van unit introduced the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in the United States in 2010.
DETROIT -- Daimler Vans USA plans to expand the number of U.S. dealers handling the Sprinter commercial van by as much as 27 percent, to as many as 250, the unit’s boss says.
“We don’t want to overdealer,” Claus Tritt, vice president of Daimler Vans USA, said in an interview. “We want to have dealers in the right places and the right markets where there are actually customers with a need.”
Daimler AG’s U.S. commercial van unit introduced the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in the United States in 2010. The van had been sold by Dodge from 2003 through 2009. It also has been sold here since 2001 by Freightliner.
Tritt said 197 Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner dealers are equipped to sell the Sprinter in the United States. He said Daimler wants to raise that number to between 230 and 250. He did not give a timetable for the increase.
Following a recent companywide push to improve customer experience, Tritt said, Daimler wants to ensure that Sprinter dealers understand how to handle commercial customers.
“We want to train them and set them up right before we put customers into jeopardy,” Tritt said. “It’s a process -- it’s not something which happens overnight.”
Sprinter is a separate franchise from Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and Freightliner, Tritt said, and dealers must meet specific requirements.
In addition to training staff to sell and service the Sprinter, Tritt said, dealers must have a dedicated salesperson and a dedicated display area for the Sprinter, whether that area is a secluded showroom area, a stand-alone showroom or an outdoor setting.
In order to service the Sprinter, Tritt said, dealer service operations must have two Sprinter-trained technicians, two vehicle lifts and an alignment rack. He said that many dealerships will need to raise ceilings or expand entryways to accommodate the Sprinter.
Tritt said qualifying for a Sprinter franchise takes six to 12 weeks, depending on the status of the dealership and the time needed to obtain licenses and complete government inspections, if necessary.
Last month, 2,203 Sprinters were sold in the United States, bringing this year’s total through July to 11,479 units.
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