On July 18 and 19, 2016, Mercedes-Benz Vans USA hosted its 2016 Upfitter Training Seminar in Charleston, South Carolina. To learn about updates and discuss considerations for the future of Sprinters, Advanced-RV sent four participants: Mike Neundorfer, Fred Ahlgren, Frank Kolasinski, and Brian Morris.
Mike, with wife Marcia, cruised to the event in their new Advanced RV Super Stealth Demo, named “Runaway,” and Fred, with wife Michelle, traveled in their Advanced-RV Eco Ranger 4×4 “Gustov.” Prior to the seminar, the two couples enjoyed dinner in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, toured the old-town in a horse-drawn carriage and visited the City Market dating from the 1790’s, and the Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon, a Revolutionary War prison and City Hall.
Monday evening, Mercedes-Benz hosted a fabulous dinner for all participants at Cannon Green in Charleston. For the seminar on Tuesday, participants went to the assembly plant in Ladson, South Carolina, where German-manufactured Sprinters are reassembled for US customers. Topics included Sprinter and Metris product updates, general conversion considerations, regulatory compliance updates and electrical/mechanical considerations when upfitting.
A few things we learned:
- Sprinter sales are up 20% from the same period in 2015
- 55% of all Sprinters sold in the US are sold through upfitters
- Over 70% of North American Sprinters are upfitted in some way
The week after the seminar, Mercedes-Benz will break ground for an expansion to their assembly plant, allowing space for the manufacturing of Sprinters in the US. Production of Sprinters in the US is planned to start in the fall of 2018, with the production of the 2019 model year.
Many thanks to the team at Mercedes-Benz Vans USA for their hospitality and their outreach to keep us up fitters informed and engaged.