By Bennett Oghifo
Mercedes-Benz opened the world to new possibilities on January 23, 1995 when they unveiled their new solution for the light commercial vehicle segment.
This large sized vehicle presented an ultramodern van that was ideal for the logistics challenges ahead. At a time where the transition to e-commerce and the dimension of online trade was still a fragment of imagination, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter became a key part in this transition for many businesses globally.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is the frontline brand for Mercedes-Benz Vans and is renowned for being the go-to brand in the size segment of vans between 3.0 and 5.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight. The Sprinter is available exclusively in Nigeria courtesy of Weststar Associates Limited, Authorized General Distributor of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria.
With over 4 million units sold and a presence in over 130 countries worldwide, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter’s success and impact in this fast-changing business world is clear to see. Lending its name to its vehicle segment, the term “Sprinter Class” has long been used to identify large sized vehicles in the lightweight division. In the Nigerian Market, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has become top of the mind for passenger transport and logistics for many businesses.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter followed the Mercedes-Benz vans philosophy from 1955, when the first light weight commercial vehicle with the Mercedes star rolled out. 1995 became a special time in the history of Mercedes-Benz as the Sprinter debuted as the first Mercedes-Benz van with its own name. A direct descent of the legendary T1 van, the Sprinter immediately made a statement with disk brakes at the front and rear wheels, the anti-lock braking system ABS including the automatic brake differential ABD, a more aerodynamic body, low fuel consumption and many other innovations. This new van set standards in safety, efficiency, ergonomics and comfort.
The Sprinter received an exceptionally positive reception from the experts on its debut in 1995. In a benchmark test by German trade magazine “lastauto und omnibus”, it was ranked as the vehicle with the most economical engine. And in an individual test by the magazine, it was considered to be “the quietest transporter currently available”. It was no surprise then that the Sprinter was crowned “Van of the Year 1995” in the same year of its debut.
In 2006, Mercedes-Benz introduced the second generation of the Sprinter, customers were now able to access a tailor-made solution for practically any requirement. This was possible via the Bodybuilder Portal, which provides all the information required for realizing customer requests. The new vehicle was characterized by numerous innovations: for example, an extra-wide load compartment sliding door, the super-high roof and a fourth body length. Powertrains have been further optimized with a new range of engines and a new 6-speed transmission for diesel variants. There was also an improved brake system, ADAPTIVE ESP, with extended functions for all tonnages and a revised stowage concept in the vehicle interior. New features also included the wide-base tyres at the rear axle for the 4.6-tonne variant, the bi-xenon headlamps with static cornering and curve lights, a thorax bag for the driver and co-driver, the PARKTRONIC system and much more.
With an efficient drivetrain and numerous innovations, the further-developed Sprinter from 2013 maintained market leadership among the competition. The contributing factors included, among other things, an efficiency package with ECO steering assistance pump, the ECO start/stop function and a long rear-axle ratio. In addition to an extended mobility guarantee, customers had yet more equipment options to choose from. The focus was again on safety in particular: The Sprinter was now the first van to be equipped as standard with Crosswind Assist. While Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST are just some of the features also available.
By 2018, the third generation of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was unveiled, embodying the Mercedes-Benz Vans adVANce philosophy from 2016 as a provider of comprehensive mobility solutions. It combines progressive design with comfort and safety features only usually seen in passenger cars.
The extensive networking with the internet is revolutionary: the Mercedes PRO connect services and the multimedia system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) are setting the points in the direction of the future and creating new possibilities for managing a large fleet and for small businesses alike.
From the outset, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has positioned itself as truly multi-purpose: it is available as a chassis, platform vehicle or tipper vehicle, with a crew cab or a single cab respectively, as a panel van and as a crew bus with five to up thirteen seats, with a low or high roof. The wheelbases ranged from 3000 to 4025 millimetres.
The permissible gross mass weight was initially 2590, 2800 or 3500 kilograms. It has also stood its ground in numerous fields of application – for example on the construction site, in the trades, in passenger transportation, but also for fire and rescue services. In the past 25 years the van has also cut a fine figure as a camper van and as the basis for many different special bodies.
Speaking on this landmark occasion, The MD/CEO, Weststar Associates Limited, Mr. Mirko Plath, commented; “The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is one of our most successful vehicles here in Nigeria, many businesses continue to trust in the Sprinter to take care of their transportation and logistics needs. The story of Weststar would definitely be incomplete without the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and for this reason we celebrate this brand here in Nigeria as we look forward to more success with a van with the Mercedes star.”