MUNICH - DaimlerChrysler AG's next-generation Sprinter commercial vehicle will debut in North America in January 2007 after being launched in Europe next April.
For North America, the Dodge Sprinter will continue to be assembled in Freightliner's Gaffney, S.C., plant from kits. In Europe, the vehicle will be available as a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Volkswagen LT, to be produced in two German plants, Ludwigsfelde and Duesseldorf.
The Sprinter will be unveiled in February.
The vehicle is a complete redesign developed for both Europe and North America, says a company spokesman.
The current Sprinter, launched in 1995, came to the United States in 2000 as a Freightliner. It was sold by DaimlerChrysler's Freightliner subsidiary. In 2003 it became available as the Dodge Sprinter.
The next Sprinter will not be sold as a Freightliner.
Sprinter kits produced in Germany will continue to be assembled in the Gaffney plant, which has capacity of about 20,000 units annually. Gaffney production will be all Sprinters for the United States.
"Importing the Sprinter from Europe makes no commercial sense," says the spokesman.
The two German plants will produce European models as well as the kits that will be shipped to the United States.
Duesseldorf will produce the lion's share of Sprinters, with a capacity of 140,000 units annually. Capacity in Ludwigsfelde is limited to 50,000 units annually.
Both German plants will produce the corresponding Volkswagen LT models.
Since the mid-1990s, the LT has been a derivative of the Sprinter.
The Sprinter will be available in Europe with an inline four-cylinder gasoline engine and inline four-cylinder and V-6 diesel engines.
All engines also will be available in North America except an entry-level version of the four-cylinder diesel.
The Sprinter's current inline five-cylinder diesel will be discontinued. The V-6 engine replacing it is the 3.0-liter unit introduced recently in several Mercedes-Benz cars.
The United States will get all body variations of the Sprinter, including a motor home version.
Says the spokesman: "From the outset, the next Sprinter has been developed with the U.S. market in mind."