Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that it will cease to build the Volkswagen Crafter alongside its Sprinter when the current agreement between the German manufacturers expires at the end of 2016.
With Mercedes continuing to target the large van segment as a market for long term growth, it plans to utilise the production capacity at its plants in Dusseldorf and Ludwigsfelde in Germany solely for its own vehicles.
While acknowledging that both partners had benefited from the cooperation, Mercedes’ light commercial vehicle boss Volker Mornhinweg said: “With the next Sprinter, which is currently in development, we will be dependent upon the production facilities we have currently made available to Volkswagen.
“That’s why our employees will only produce our own brands in the future.”
Mercedes launched a facelifted Sprinter in September in the UK, introducing a raft of new safety features to the model. VW revised the Crafter in 2011, replacing 2.5-litre engines with 2.0-litre powertrains and redesigning the grille.
The three pointed star brand currently builds around 150,000 Sprinters every year, 60% of which are sold in Europe. Apart from its domestic facilities it has also assembled the large van in Argentina since 2007 and China since 2011 in order to supply the expanding markets in South America and Asia. To serve demand in another growth market, the Sprinter has been built in partnership with GAZ in Russia from July this year.
Mercedes has made about 280,000 Crafter vans in Germany for VW since the Wolfsburg-based company launched the model in 2006.
VW Commercial Vehicles reiterated that the treaty with Mercedes would run for another three years and said that after this period it would continue to produce a model for the heavy van sector. The brand said it has not yet decided where the successor to the current Crafter will be produced.