Freightliner LLC jumped into the light-commercial market with its introduction of the Sprinter van at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The Class 2-3 Sprinter, originally developed in Europe by the OEM's parent, DaimlerChrysler, will be manufactured in Germany and assembled in the U.S.

The Sprinter will be initially offered in cargo and passenger van configurations. The cargo van will be available in June and the passenger van in September. A cab/chassis version will arrive next year.

The vans will be sold and serviced in the U.S. and Canada through a dedicated light-commercial dealer network Freightliner is putting together that will focus on large urban markets.

Sprinters will be offered in two interior roof heights — 64-in. standard and 73-in. high roof — and three wheelbase lengths: 118, 140 and 158 in. Standard cargo van GVWR is 8,550 lb. with 4,123 lb. of cargo capacity. The 9,900-lb.-GVWR version offers 5,105 lb. of payload capacity.

Besides the Sprinter's interior heights, nearly vertical sidewalls and full-height rear doors, its “most productive differentiator” is its Mercedes-Benz 5-cyl. inline turbodiesel with 156-hp. rating.

“The Mercedes engine technology allows the Sprinter to perform like a V8 gasoline engine, yet provides customers with a smooth-running van with greater fuel economy,” said Freightliner president Jim Hebe.

Other key features include ergonomic interior, tight turning radius, standard power-assisted rack and pinion steering, and four-wheel antilock disc brakes.

Hebe says that the Sprinter fits into the light-duty commercial market between heavier walk-in vans and lighter automotive-based vans. He told FLEET OWNER that a smaller Mercedes-Benz van — “the next size down from the Sprinter” — will be coming to North America soon.

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