Mercedes-Benz Vans has opened its new Sprinter plant for the North American market. After considering the high market potential for the new Sprinter in North America, the decision to build a new production facility in time for the launch of the new Sprinter model in the USA was announced in March 2015. The facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, is now up and running following a two year construction period.
The total investment adds up to approx. 500 million dollars with more than 900 people working at the expanded North Charleston site, that number is set to grow up to 1,300 by the end of 2020. According to estimations, suppliers will create an additional 600 new jobs in and around North Charleston.
Amazon becomes the world’s largest Sprinter customer
To coincide with the opening, Mercedes-Benz Vans also announced it will be producing Amazon branded Sprinter vans for the retail company’s new Delivery Service Partner program at the new plant. Small business owners will work with third-party fleet management companies to procure their customized vans and get special leases in order to keep their startup costs low.
The new Partnership with Amazon includes the delivery of 20,000 vans for small businesses across the U.S., making the online retailer the world’s largest Sprinter customer.
U.S. market launch of the new Sprinter
The opening could not come at a better time – 2018 marks the U.S. market launch of the new generation of the highly acclaimed van.
The third generation of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter defines the top class of large vans in all sub-disciplines. Its classic strengths have been improved upon and are complemented by new intelligent products and services. Among the outstanding innovations in the North American market are the new multimedia systems MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), the control and display concept in the cockpit, as well as ergonomically shaped seats and modern assistance systems - some of them were taken over from the car sector and, for the first time, found their way into a Mercedes-Benz van. The previously available version of the proven Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was in high demand among customers in the USA, the second largest market in the world for Sprinter vans. With the new plant and the “made in USA” vehicles, the business area will be able to serve the growing demand of North American customers more economically and significantly reduce delivery times in this market.
The new Sprinter will be made under the brands Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner.
Additional facilities including body shop, paint shop and final assembly
Mercedes-Benz has put the full weight of its technical expertise into the North Charleston location. The new factory expands upon the existing Mercedes-Benz Vans assembly plant with additional facilities, including body shop, paint shop and final assembly.
The expansion of the production facility has tripled its footprint, now covering 222 acres or nearly 10 million square ft.
Autonomous transport systems deliver free-flowing traffic
Like other locations within the Mercedes-Benz Vans production network, the plant in North Charleston is equipped with driverless transport systems – which can travel more than 40 miles in one shift. They are controlled through networking with the plant’s IT system and via RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology.The vehicles can also use Bluetooth to communicate with one another and coordinate automatically, thus guaranteeing smooth traffic flow at all times.
Effective training with digital tools
At every Mercedes-Benz plant, personnel remains the most important factor when it comes to quality. At the North Charleston plant, conventional methods are amplified by digital training tools to help prepare them for their jobs. Due to the diversity of body types, powertrain concepts, body lengths, tonnages, cargo-space heights and equipment options, the new Sprinter is available in more than 1,700 variants. Each and every employee has to learn around 900 individual process steps in a specific order to enable them to build the new Sprinter.