25 years of Innovation: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

  • Its success caused the Sprinter to become synonymous for an entire size segment of vans between 3.0 and 5.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW)
  • Since 1995 it has always set new standards of economy, safety and versatility, from the first to the current generation
  • Thanks to Mercedes PRO connect and the start of its electric mobility journey, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is also optimally equipped for all the tasks ahead
  • Known the world over and on-the-road in 130 countries

25 years ago, a van that would go on to lend its name to an entire vehicle segment was launched on the market: the Sprinter. Today, a quarter of a century later, the current generation still represents the benchmark for the competition. Alongside its timeless values such as quality, reliability, economy and comfort, the current Sprinter also stands for networking and connectivity and – as eSprinter variant – for locally emission-free transportation too. Mercedes-Benz Vans is using this special birthday of the Sprinter to publish a specific topic on the Mercedes me media communications platform every month in 2020. The specials highlight the Sprinter’s position as the market leader over the decades and demonstrate how the vehicle has always managed to perfectly combine its historical tradition with modern innovations. 

1995: A van anticipates the coming decade 

In 1995 the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter defined an entire size segment and played a part in aiding the transition to e-commerce: when the current dimensions of online trade were barely imaginable, the Stuttgart brand presented an ultramodern van that was ideal for the logistics challenges ahead. 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 consumption and many other innovations, the Sprinter set standards with regard to safety, efficiency and comfort and became the worthy successor to the legendary T1. According to various media sources, this made it the eponym for the “Sprinter class”. 

25 years of Innovation: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter celebrates its birthday

From the outset, the new van positioned itself as truly multi-talented: it was 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 or nine seats, with a low or high roof. The wheelbases ranged from 3000 to 4025 millimetres. The permissible gross mass was initially 2590, 2800 or 3500 kilograms. Optimum prerequisites for 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. 

2006: Extensively advanced and with significantly more capacity 

Over 1.3 million Sprinter sales and several facelifts later, in 2006 Mercedes-Benz presented a comprehensive further development: whilst there had previously already been a very broad range of variants, customers were now able to access a tailor-made solution for practically any requirement. The bodybuilders’ portal, which provides all the information required for realising customer requests, also played a key role. 

The new vehicle was characterised 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 optimised 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. 

2013: More output, more safety 

With an efficient drivetrain and numerous innovations, the further-developed Sprinter from 2013 again took up a new top position among the competition. Contributing factors are, among other things, an efficiency package with ECO steering assistance pump, the ECO start/stop function and a long rear-axle ratio. Thanks to the latest engine technology featuring SCR technology, the Sprinter was the first van ever to meet the Euro VI exhaust emissions standard. In addition to an extended mobility guarantee and the 7-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC PLUS, 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 for closed vehicle models. Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST are just some of the features also available. 

2018: With a further drive variant and intelligent connectivity 

The third Sprinter generation was the first model series to embody the Mercedes-Benz Vans adVANce philosophy in 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. The service enables orders to be managed online and vehicle information such as the location, fuel supply or maintenance intervals to be called up practically in real time. There are eight Mercedes PRO connect packages with central services available ex factory. 

The Sprinter’s broad range of variants remains impressive: more than 1000 different versions of the current Sprinter can be configured from the possible bodies, chassis, drive concepts, tonnages and equipment details alone. As of 2018 there is also more choice with regard to the engine thanks to the front-wheel drive available for the first time and two transmissions developed for it, as well as a 9-speed automatic transmission with converter. With these drive variants and the so-called traction head vehicle version, the current Sprinter forms an ideal basis for motorhome conversions. An offer which numerous conversion specialists in this expanding segment are already using. 

Mercedes-Benz 2018 model
25 years of Innovation: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter celebrates its birthday

2019: Entry into electric mobility with the eSprinter 

Economical, reliable and flexible as before, but now also able to distribute goods, drive to construction sites or respond to servicing call-outs, all with zero local emissions – the eSprinter presented at the end of 2019 is made for these applications. Its electric front-wheel drive has an output of up to 85 kW with a torque of up to 295 newton metres. An adjustable payload and battery concept takes account of individual requirements: with a usable battery capacity of 47 kWh, its range is 168 kilometres[1], [2] with a maximum payload of 891 kilograms. Anyone valuing more payload can simply opt for a lower battery capacity. An interesting prospect for fleet operators: the eCharging Planner advisory tool provides support when converting to locally emission-free e-mobility with Mercedes-Benz Vans. 

At home the world over and out on the road in more than 130 countries 

The Sprinter is not only produced at the Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde plants, but also in Buenos Aires, as it has been from the first generation. The US plant in Charleston was also extended to become a fully-fledged location for the current model. But it is not the global sites alone which ensure that the Sprinter is available in over 130 countries: for 25 years it has been meeting precisely the requirements customers have when it comes to solving their wide-ranging transportation tasks.