Last year, Mercedes-Benz sold 26,772 vans up to 3.5 tonnes, taking it to third place in the sales chart behind Ford and Vauxhall. It was the fifth consecutive record year in a row.
Much of the success was down to the new Vito, which won the Fleet News medium panel van of the year award in March and was also voted International Van of the Year. Sales of the fresh model were up 26% over the old one. Even Sprinter, which is due to be replaced in May 2006, saw sales growth of 8.1% and Peter Lambert, Mercedes-Benz director, van sales and marketing, said: ‘We could have sold even more Sprinters if it were not for production restrictions. We have seen some very high profile fleet deals in the past year.’ Ian Jones, managing director of commercial vehicles, said the firm’s fleet appeal had also been boosted with a £70 million dealer investment in its UK dealer network. He said: ‘Three years ago we had just three specialist van centres in the UK. This year we have 32 and I expect there to be 60 by the end of next year.’ Sharing stand space at the show with the Vito were new freezer versions of the Sprinter and Vito and an ESP simulator, giving visitors the chance to experience how Mercedes-Benz’s ESP traction control system operates. ESP is standard on both Vito and Sprinter. Also on the Daimler-Chrysler stand, from its Mitsubishi division, was a new upgraded Canter truck, featuring no fewer than 2,500 part and design changes over the old model. There is a new cab with redesigned interior trim, enhanced levels of driver comfort, a dash-mounted gearstick and a new gearbox. The 3.5-tonne gvw model is powered by a 3.0-litre four- cylinder engine offering 125bhp. Payload is 1,700kg. Gross vehicle weights go up to 7.5 tonnes.