The FINANCIAL — Mercedes-Benz Vans once again achieved records for unit sales, revenue and EBIT in 2017. Daimler’s van division handed over a total of approximately 401,000 vans and multipurpose vehicles to its customers (2016: 359,100).
This represents significant growth of 12 percent and means that the division has posted growth in unit sales for the past five years and has now had four consecutive record years. Mercedes-Benz Vans increased its revenue in 2017 to the new high of 13.2 billion euros (2016: 12.8 billion euros, plus three percent). Earnings (EBIT) of 1,181 million euros were also at a best-ever level (2016: €1,170 million euros). Despite high investment in the expansion and renewal of the product portfolio and new services, the return on sales of 9.0 percent was at the targeted level (2016: 9.1 percent), according to Daimler.
Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans: “The foundation of this success is our ‘Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global’ strategy. With it, we are securing our sustainable growth as well as systematically utilizing new business potential. We made significant investments in 2017 and will do the same also in 2018.”
At the beginning of last year, Mercedes-Benz Vans announced investments totaling more than two billion euros for the years 2017 and 2018. The main areas of investment include the new Mercedes-Benz Pickup X-Class, the new Sprinter large van and innovative complete system solutions in connection with the vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Transformation into a provider of complete transport and mobility solutions
“We successfully entered the global growth segment of mid-size pickups with the market launch of our new X-Class in late 2017. Our next market launch will be of the new Sprinter in June. Our new flagship also marks a turning point, because the new Sprinter is our first fully connected total-system solution. With it, we are for the first time putting adVANce – our strategic future initiative – on the road. So Mercedes-Benz Vans is changing from a pure vehicle manufacturer into a provider of complete transport and mobility solutions for our customers,” continued Mornhinweg.
Significant growth in unit sales and revenue planned for 2018
Mercedes-Benz Vans plans for significant growth in unit sales and revenue in the year 2018. This will be driven for example by the new X-Class and the new Sprinter. Due to the continuation of high advance expenditure for the Sprinter model change, the production ramp-up of additional new models and negative exchange-rate effects, Mercedes-Benz Vans also anticipates a slight decrease in earnings.
New Sprinter conquers the camper-van market with front-wheel drive and tractor-head variants
With the new Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz Vans is consolidating its strong position in the growing market of camper vans. In Europe, a total of approximately 111,000 vehicles were registered in this segment in 2017, representing growth of 15 percent compared with the previous year. In Germany, approximately 41,000 camper vans were newly registered, an increase of 16 percent.
In order to participate even more in this development in the future, the new Sprinter is for the first time available also with front-wheel drive. The design of this variant yields an improved possible payload, opening up additional scope for bodybuilders. A lower floor makes getting in and out of the living and sleeping area of camper vans considerably more convenient. In addition, Mercedes‑Benz Vans now offers the new Sprinter also as a so-called tractor head, in which the powertrain, fuel tank and all other major components are located in front of or under the cab. This gives bodybuilders of high-quality and comfortable camper vans completely free rein to design the rear vehicle section.
“With the new Sprinter, we are naturally also keeping a close eye on our core business: The new tractor-head version of our bestseller opens up additional sales potential in the growth market of camper vans. I am therefore especially pleased that our longstanding partner Hymer will be the biggest customer for the new Sprinter,” added Mornhinweg.
Intensive collaboration with camper-van producer Hymer – agreement on a comprehensive supply relationship
The caravan and camper-van producer Hymer, which is based in Bad Waldsee in Baden-Württemberg, is likely to be the biggest customer for the new Sprinter. Mercedes-Benz Vans and Hymer have already concluded an agreement on the supply of a four-digit number of vehicles as the tractor-head variant in 2018. As of 2019, annual unit sales of the tractor-head version are expected to be in a high four-digit number. The first vehicles will be delivered to Hymer for the production of new camper vans in the coming weeks.
Mercedes-Benz Vans and Hymer cooperated intensively already in the development of the new tractor-head version. This allowed the vehicle’s specifications to be optimally adapted to the needs of bodybuilders in the camper-van segment.
Hymer was established in 1957 and is now Europe’s market leader in the premium segment for camper vans. Mercedes-Benz and Hymer have been collaborating for more than 40 years – the first Hymermobil was based on a Mercedes-Benz van. Hymer has trusted the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as the basic vehicle for its camper vans since 1995.
New Sprinter makes the camper van into a smart home on wheels
The camper version is only one example of how digitization in the vehicle will open up new control possibilities for customers. In the future, the camper van can become a completely connected smart home on wheels – a genuine smart camper. The foundation for this intelligent connection of the basic vehicle and the camper body is a new interface module. This allows all camper functions to be controlled from one place – optionally via the infotainment system in the vehicle or via smartphone. In this way, Mercedes-Benz creates the possibility to connect vehicle and living space into a smart unit – something so far unique in the camper-van market.
Mercedes-Benz Vans continues to push forward with the electrification of its portfolio
With its adVANce future initiative, Mercedes-Benz Vans is changing from a producer of globally successful vans into a provider of complete system solutions for the transport of goods and persons – and is thus a pioneer in the industry. The van division is pursuing the goal of developing new business models and tailored solutions for various industries and their customers. A key component of adVANce is the electric strategy of Mercedes-Benz Vans. For example, orders have been taken for the eVito since November 2017 and deliveries will start in the second half of 2018. The electric version of the new Sprinter will follow in 2019. In parallel, the division offers its customers comprehensive advice on the electrification of their fleets, the required charging infrastructure and supplementary vehicle services.
One example of such full cooperation is the strategic partnership with Hermes, a logistics service provider. Pilot projects are currently starting in Hamburg and Stuttgart and will involve the first of 1,500 electric vans. The cooperation will then be extended to cover other urban areas.
New eVAN Ready app helps customers to decide
For van customers who are not yet convinced whether electric mobility is the right drive system for their business operations, Mercedes-Benz Vans now offers the eVAN Ready app. This free smartphone app records real routes driven by a user, analyzes the mobility patterns and compares them with numerous parameters of the eVito, and in the future also the eSprinter. This is important, because commercial users have widely differing user profiles. For example, a service technician responsible for an entire region has completely different range requirements from those of an urban parcel delivery driver, who operates on short routes that can be planned well in advance.
Speed and acceleration are therefore recorded by the new app as well as stops and long breaks. The app also records environmental parameters such as temperature and altitude profile. The vehicle’s range and the expected energy consumption can then be calculated. The analysis also takes into consideration the available charging points and calculates the additional charging and energy requirements. As an option, commercial customers can also include their typical loads and gross vehicle weights in the calculation. This results in a realistic and meaningful user profile.