The first Sprinter Classic rolled off the assembly line in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. This milestone represents yet another step forward with regard to Mercedes-Benz Vans’ “Vans goes global” growth strategy.

Mercedes-Benz Vans manufactures the Sprinter Classic locally in cooperation with Russia’s largest van manufacturer, GAZ. The division sells the van on the Russian market in collaboration with the Mercedes-Benz sales organization. The Daimler van division and GAZ jointly celebrated the official start of series production today at the Gorki automotive plant in Nizhny Novgorod.

“Today is a special day for Mercedes-Benz Vans and its partner, GAZ,” said Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, at the official ceremony. “The start of local production of the Sprinter Classic represents a significant step for us in Russia, which is an attractive growth market, as we are now manufacturing our vans there. In other words, we have gained a foothold in this important market of the future and the Sprinter Classic provides our customers with a vehicle that is fully tailored to the market’s needs. We plan to participate with GAZ in the promising Russian market.”

Russia’s market for medium-size and large vans expanded in the last three years, and amounted to around 150,000 units in full-year 2012. This development is expected to continue in the coming years, with the market growing by three to five percent annually. The successful penetration of the Russian market is therefore a high priority at Mercedes-Benz Vans and an important element of the “Vans goes global” strategy. In May 2012, Mercedes-Benz Vans and the Russian automaker GAZ formed a partnership that paves the way for the division’s entry into the Russian market and for local van production. As part of its partnership with GAZ, Daimler is investing more than €100 million in the product’s modification, the production facilities, and the sales network. The GAZ Group, in turn, is investing more than €90 million in the project.

“We are convinced that GAZ is the ideal partner for the local production of the Sprinter,” said Mornhinweg. “As Russia’s largest van manufacturer, GAZ has extensive technological expertise, a good network of local suppliers, and, of course, many experienced employees. All of these factors will play a major role in ensuring our joint success in Russia.”

Another aspect of the partnership involves the joint production of engines. The GAZ facility in Yaroslavl manufactures Mercedes-Benz OM646 four-cylinder diesel engines that are subsequently installed in the Sprinter Classic. The GAZ Group set up a new assembly plant in Yaroslavl in late 2011. The facility meets the latest international standards and was previously designed to produce Euro 4-compliant YaMZ-530 engines.

Sprinter Classic: Made in Russia for Russia
“Already at the start of production, the Sprinter Classic boasts a localization rate of over 20 percent,” said Mornhinweg. “We will steadily increase this figure for all of the parts and components. In doing so, we will greatly contribute to the development of the automotive industry in Russia and the Nizhny region.”

The recently presented Sprinter Classic is the first vehicle to result from the partnership between Mercedes-Benz Vans and GAZ. The Sprinter Classic focuses on the essentials. It is a robust product that is tailored to the needs of the Russian market and sold at an affordable entry-level price. The Russian van uses the proven Sprinter platform, which has produced more than 1.5 million units to date. In addition to featuring an appealing design and a contemporary interior, the Sprinter Classic boasts high-grade safety systems such as the standard-fitted ADAPTIVE ESP® stability program. Customers will be able to experience the vehicle at dealerships beginning in September. The Sprinter Classic is being positioned in Russia’s growing and promising mid-priced segment for large vans. Moreover, the high-quality “line advanced” equipment variant enables customers to adapt the Sprinter Classic to their needs.

Source: Mercedes-benz Vans