Reports that Mercedes would be removing its Metris van from the U.S. market emerged over the weekend, with the German automaker confirming the decision.
Despite carrying a larger price tag than the competition (starting around $35,000), the Metris often compares favorably from behind the wheel when the maximum cargo capacity and price aren’t the chief concerns. Unfortunately, those tend to be very important items when people are shopping for working vehicles and the Metris’ sales numbers have reflected that. Mercedes has struggled to reach 10,000 deliveries annually and the Metris volume is routinely bested by models like the smaller Ford Transit Connect or the ancient, full-size Chevrolet Express.
Those aren’t even the most popular alternatives, just a couple of random examples highlighting that the model’s European sizing might not have played well in the United States. The Metris tends to be a little larger than the city vans preferred by small businesses and independent tradesmen — but dwarfed by full-sized vans focused entirely on capacity. The German commercial van’s interior also lacks the same level of luxury expected from other products wearing the Mercedes badge. While it’s a cut above some other working vehicles designed to ferry passengers, it’s universally outclassed by the features found on the minivans occupying today the market (e.g. Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna) which are also probably the closest to the Metris in overall size.
But it may be unfair to say Mercedes is pulling out wholly due to a lack of interest when Metris sales were improving ahead of the pandemic and on pace to break a record this year. In fact, the manufacturer would probably rather we ignore the glaring volume issue and focus on its decision to eliminate the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that goes into the model. On Friday, Automotive News reported that it had intercepted a dealer memo stating that the motor would be discontinued, which likewise spells doom for certain versions of the larger Mercedes Sprinter van.
“As a result, the Mercedes-Benz Metris and gasoline Sprinter models will no longer be offered in the U.S. market after Q3 2023,” the brand’s U.S. vice president of commercial vehicles, Nicolette Lambrechts, said in the letter.
The Sprinter van’s vastly more popular diesel option should stick around while the company prepares to electrify as many vehicles as is feasible. But something tells me the Metris would have been yanked from our market even if that wasn’t the case. Considering the manufacturer has only sold around 60,000 units in America since 2015, there was likely no way MB Vans would have tried to press on. Mercedes is also starting to shift back upmarket, abandoning some of its lower-margin products that sticker for less.
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