This article is somewhat misleading I think. This is not about discontinuing production of the sprinter, this is about ceasing distribution of the Freightliner version of it. I think this is more in line with the success of the Mercedes-Benz light commercial vehicle lineup more than anything else. It makes no sense to distribute these vehicles under two different brand names. Especially since USPS bought the Mercedes-Benz version of the Metris. The purpose of the freightliner sprinter was to provide the opportunity for various people who did not want to three pointed star on the front of their vehicle to buy the sprinter, or did not want to shop at Dodge dealers, which are notoriously skeezy, back when Dodge was the primary Sprinter distributor.
Mercedes success of the Sprinter and the willingness of a US governmental operation to buy a Mercedes branded product means the Freightliner Sprinter is getting redundant. I suspect that the USPS contract was one nail in the coffin, and the other major one is that I haven’t seen a current generation Sprinter in Freightliner specification. I also suspect that a dealer who primarily sells $200k trucks is not that fascinated with spending time and money on stocking and selling $50k vans and the associated servicing of light duty vehicles, which are an entirely different beast than medium and heavy duty trucks.
This is not really a product cut. This is a branding realignment.
We have a pretty good size Freightliner Vans/busses facility near here.....they move a lot of sprinters. They had some 2020 sprinters on the lot, I'm not sure if they were marked as MB or freightliner....pretty sure they were freightliner though.
I would not be surprised at all if Freightliner dealerships who want to continue Sprinter distribution are offered a Mercedes-Benz Vans distributorship, unless they are in direct competition with a local Mercedes dealer. Ultimately, this might in fact increase the number of authorized Metris dealers/service centers.
The Metris shares something with Tesla and few other cars this year- an increase in sales year-to-date verses last year. I’m sure part of that is attributable to what I’d guess would be a relatively low profit deal with USPS, but that will ultimately raise awareness and sales of the van, I think, to retail customers.
I just hope it doesn’t politicize owning Metris vans. I could come up with lots of situations where either side of the aisle could use this to bring up USPS waste and dysfunction. (Look! Your mail gets to ride in a Mercedes! Your tax dollars at work! And it’s built in Spain where all the Mexicans are!) The fact that the Metris is probably the cheapest vehicle that can be easily made suitable to USPS mail delivery would be lost in the nonsense.
I think offering the Weekender (now "Getaway") was the best move MB could make to drive Metris sales. It's natural affinity group includes lots of old VW loyalists. Even with this year's Q2 41% boost, Metris still sells at only 14,000 units per year. I'm not sure what the post office sale does -- it might boost the reputation for reliability, it might engender ridicule as mail trucks are a little bit funny due to right hand drive.
Part of the reason Metris sales are not higher is availability, especially with proper equipment for personal use. I looked at the post office deal and said, if we want a Metris, we'd better buy one now, because there are few well-equipped cargo vans left and next year may come very late. I found one van in the western U.S. with blind spot detection, comfort package, cruise, etc., the things that are nice on a camper van. It was several hundred miles away in another state, so I bought it and had it shipped, for $350. My local dealer had no Metrises and did nothing to help me find one, when asked, but that's another story. Of course, the dealer in Washington state was sitting on 50 nice units for Peace Vans, I presume. My point is that Mercedes probably won't discontinue Metris because they sell post office vans and commercial vans, but they certainly don't push them, and the dealers look at them as bast....... step-children to Sprinter. I believe that there would be a market, especially because all vans are selling with Covid, if Mercedes wanted one. As far as the post office buy? It's already right drive, it's the right size, and I'm guessing the chicken tax was avoided on them. I wonder if those units come directly from Spain already built, essentially robbing the Brits of Metrises, since they are right-drive.