- The Mercedes-Benz Metris joined the larger Sprinter in the automaker’s US van lineup for the 2016 model year.
- Since 2015, dealers have moved fewer than 10,000 Metris vans each year — roughly 60,000 units in total.
- The US Postal Service put in a multi-year order for 30,000 vans, and Mercedes says it will make that commitment before dropping the Metris from the US lineup.
- The more popular Sprinter will still be available for sale, in both gas and diesel variants.
The four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz Metris did not prove as strong a seller in the US as it has been in some other markets.
According to a recent Automotive News report, the automaker will drop the smaller sibling to the Sprinter later next years, exiting the midsize commercial van market altogether. Known as the V-Class or the Vito overseas, the Metris provided an alternative to the Ford Transit Connect, Ram ProMaster City and the (now defunct) Nissan NV200/Chevrolet City Express
The reason? Slow sales, and to some extent a frosty reception from dealers. Mind you, Mercedes-Benz carries a strong reputation as a luxury brand in most Americans’ minds, and prior to the Sprinter and Metris, we didn’t have much in the way of commercial vehicles to consider. As a result, the Metris looked awkward on the same dealer lot as, say, an S-Class or GLS SUV.
“There’s nothing luxury about it,” one dealership executive told AutoNews. “It drives louder than a Toyota.” While the Mercedes-Benz Metris did offer a decently potent 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and 7-speed automatic transmission, its rougher character and lack of size appeal left it without a large audience. It fell between the smaller and larger vans on both size and price, and it seems that neither some small businesses could afford the leap, nor larger businesses wanted to compromise on hauling capacity.
Against the likes of high-margin luxury cars, too, dealers reportedly were unenthusiastic to try and shift the Metris to whomever did happen to want one.
That leaves the Sprinter as Mercedes’ only commercial model in the US
As the situation stands, Mercedes-Benz reckons it has a far more marketable product in the larger Sprinter, and it’s more competitive against the Ford Transit and full-size Ram ProMaster, as well as the Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana. (Side note: Yes, the Express and Savana are still going, and are now in their 26th year of production at Navistar International’s plant in Springfield, Ohio.)
It’s highly unlikely Mercedes-Benz will bring back a similar van in the near future. However, they are supposed to bring an electric Sprinter to the US market next year, which coincides with the company axing both the Metris and the gasoline-powered Sprinter. For the time being, the diesel Sprinter will continue on unabated.
Speaking of which, check out more on the Sprinter against the Ram ProMaster below: