Wikimedia Commons

As one of the nation’s most popular commercial vans, the Sprinter van just started being manufactured in the U.S. this year. From its spacious cargo department to its special blind spot mirrors, the Sprinter van is swiftly stealing the hearts of many Americans.

Made in America

Sprinter fans, rejoice! Although it started out in Germany in 1995, the Mercedes van is now manufactured in South Carolina. Even though the Mercedes Sprinter has been produced in South Carolina since 2006, Mercedes-Benz vice president Bernie Glaser revealed that it eventually became “a huge burden” to ship European parts to the states. Glaser continued, “the logistics process is a nightmare.” However, it was the automobile manufacturer’s only way to avoid the so-called “chicken tax” that international companies pay to create products in America.

In an effort to compete with other beloved vans such as the Ford Transit, Mercedes invested $500 million to expand its South Carolina factory three years ago. In fact, the new Sprinter factory is expected to employ about 1,300 people by next year, which is a huge leap from the 900 people that currently work there. Mercedes also plans to hire 600 more locals from North Charleston, South Carolina as well.

Recently, Mercedes wrapped up its construction on its South Carolina plant in time to make this year’s Sprinter van. The latest Sprinter van has a ton of new features too, like enhanced GPS navigation, a 3.0-liter engine, and a gasoline version. About its new gasoline model, Mercedes dished that it “will satisfy customer demand and make the Sprinter a better fit for the rental market. It also will provide a lower-cost option than the comparable diesel model.”

The Sprinter craze

Of course, Amazon has been the first company to snap up the newest Sprinter van, purchasing 20,000 vans to be marked with the Amazon brand. Why does this matter? Dave Clark, the senior vice president of Amazon, stated that “the Amazon program provides owners of new package delivery companies of 20 to 40 vans with customized vehicles through special leases to reduce startup costs.” Looks like Amazon’s got the right idea!

After shelling out almost $3 billion on its new vehicle, Mercedes estimates that this third-generation of the Sprinter van is anticipated to stay on the market for the next decade. So far, the 2019 Mercedes van has already smashed global records by selling almost 3.5 million vans internationally. Plus, Mercedes also sold over 200,000 Sprinter vans within 130 markets in 2018.

Embracing versatility

According to Volker Mornhinweg, the head of Mercedes-Benz, “the USA is already the second largest market for our Sprinter today.” Mornhinweg also stated that “with the new, state-of-the-art production site in South Carolina, we will be able to supply our customers in North America even faster and with more flexibility in the future.” That means that the new South Carolina plant will be able to meet the intense supply and demand of American Sprinter lovers.

Surprisingly, the Mercedes Sprinter van isn’t just for industrial use either. Despite the fact that 50% of Sprinter vans are sold for commercial purposes, 30% are sold for recreational use like surfing and camping, and another 20% are used for private transportation and shuttle services.

Van life

Nowadays, the Mercedes Sprinter van has become extremely popular among American hipsters, thanks to its trendy “alternative lifestyle” element. In fact, more millennials than ever are choosing to live on the road in Sprinter vans. However, it’s not exactly cheap to turn your Sprinter van into a make-shift RV. While it already costs about $42,000 to purchase last year’s model of the Sprinter van, it can cost upwards of $25,000 to transition it into an actual traveling home.

For Seattle-based couple Chris Pochiba and Sara Aho, their conversion of a Mercedes Sprinter van was well worth the wait. However, the two saved a ton of money by doing all the hard labor themselves. How did they do it? Pochiba shared that “really we just watched a lot of YouTube and did a lot of trial and error.” Pochiba also explained that “the whole process was hard, but definitely well worth the effort. We learned so much.”

As more Americans are converting their Sprinter vans into living spaces, it has become commonplace to add things like insulation and solar panels to their vehicle. In addition, refrigerators, baths, and restrooms are being tacked onto Sprinter vans as well. And it’s not just camping and hiking junkies that are doing this either. The list of individuals that enjoy van life is long, and includes those in unlikely professions too, such as doctors, lawyers, and law enforcement.

Whether you decide to live in it or not, the Mercedes Sprinter van has become an American favorite, just like the Volkswagen did when it found its way to American shores. With its automated braking and cruise control system, fresh interior layout, and maximized storage options, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Mercedes van. On top of that, the Sprinter van also has a push-to-start button, as well as a 100,000-mile warranty that will protect your vehicle for the next five years. The Sprinter also has gasoline-powered vans, which Mercedes announced “should boost the automaker’s sales and market share in the Euro-style cargo van market.” Get your own Sprinter and ride, or live, in style.