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.

 

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Runaway in Virginia, on the way to the MB Seminar

 

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:

 

  1. Sprinter sales are up 20% from the same period in 2015
  2. 55% of all Sprinters sold in the US are sold through upfitters
  3. Over 70% of North American Sprinters are upfitted in some way

 

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Mercedes-Benz

 

 

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.

 

12 replies
  1. George Mauro
    George Mauro says:

    Word on the street is that, compared to the Ford chassis, the availability of qualified service centers for Sprinters is sparse. Parts are costly and slow to be had. Mechanical diagnostics are guess and check, at best. And the upfront cost is substantially higher. I purchased used, a 2011 3500 Sprinter with 46K miles and so far 100% problem free. I love it. I love the way it handles, I love the bulletproof engine, I love the build quality. I love the look and style. As I transition into a simpler life with half the year on the road, I am fearful of the looming expense and inconvenience of having a Sprinter fail in the nether regions of this beautiful United States of ours.
    .
    Was there any discussion regarding increased service representation throughout the USA? Has Advanced RV considered an upfit on the Ford Transit 350?

    Reply
    • Janice Spicuzza
      Janice Spicuzza says:

      Thank you for your question. While it’s true that Ford has more service centers around the country, real world experience has not uncovered a problem with our clients being able to find a qualified service center for Sprinters when needed.

      Reply
      • ROGER NADEAU
        ROGER NADEAU says:

        I had contact with a deer on Route 95 South near Dunn No. Carolina. The driver of the tow truck took us to his shop for the weekend to be in a safe place. The vehicle is a 2016 Winnebago with a Sprinter chasis. The Mercedes dealer in fayetteville does not service Sprinter chasis. This created a problem for us, as they don’t do any body work on them either.. My advice is to have a good insurance policy that will take your vehicle to a dealer that can service them.

        Reply
  2. Puppie96
    Puppie96 says:

    We would love to have more specifics about what Mercedes said about these topics. We’ve been told by another RV customizer that Meredith eyes has become quite stringent about venting to the outside, for example, and we would like to know whether that is true, as well as how this and/or other Mercedes issues will affect future customization.

    Reply
      • Puppie96
        Puppie96 says:

        Sorry the input from the spellchecker wasn’t understood. The comment was that MERCEDES had insisted on increasingly stringent rules about many RV related issues, such as venting to the outside. Would appreciate comments about that.

        Reply
  3. Mike Stanley
    Mike Stanley says:

    It’s great to know that MB is hosting these kinds of seminars for up fitters. It is also great to know that ARV is participating. Just curious – were there any tours provided for Runaway or Gustov? I’m curious as to the reception from other up fitters.

    Reply
  4. Michael Somers
    Michael Somers says:

    If they made the Sprinter just 6 inches wider, it would open up a whole world of design possibilities. I can see why it would be a problem in Europe but it would work very well here in the USA. They would sell a lot more Sprinters that way.

    Reply

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