Mercedes-Benz Vans launched its new mid-size van—the Vito—at the Chengdu Motor Show in China on Friday. The first batch of the new Vito rolled off the production line at Daimler’s local joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (FBAC) in Fuzhou in August. The new Vito will be ready for delivery to dealers at the end of September.
In an event to be held this Wednesday at its “Van Innovation Campus” in Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz Vans will unveil its vision of the van of the future: connected and electrically powered. (In July, Daimler Trucks unveiled the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, an all-electric, short-radius distribution heavy-duty truck, based on a three-axle truck from Mercedes-Benz. Earlier post.)
With the launch of the new Vito in China, we completed the roll-out of our highly successful mid-size segment in this growing market. This is another milestone of our ‘Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global’ growth strategy. We have successfully entered numerous markets with the new Vito since its launch in 2014—over 65 in total—and we have significantly increased unit sales ever since. We are convinced it will be as compelling to customers in China, too.—Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans
In March, Mercedes-Benz Vans successfully launched its mid-size multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) V-Class in China. With the Vito and V-Class, Mercedes-Benz Vans has turned its mid-size segment offering into a strong second pillar of its product portfolio in addition to the large van Sprinter.
In the first half of 2016, Vito and V-Class continued to be the strongest sales drivers. Mercedes-Benz Vans delivered approximately 46,000 Vito models to customers (plus 40%) and 23,300 V-Class models (plus 66%). Total sales of Mercedes-Benz Vans increased by 21% to approximately 176,200 vehicles—a new record.
China was the strongest growth market for Mercedes-Benz Vans with an increase in sales of 104% to approximately 5,700 units. In the second quarter of 2016, Mercedes-Benz Vans achieved its best ever quarterly EBIT of €401 million (US$447 million) (previous year: €234 million, plus 71%) and its best ever quarterly RoS of 11.7% (previous year: 8.3%t, plus 41%). It also achieved second quarter record sales of 99,600 units (previous year: 81,600, plus 22%) and revenues of €3,441 million (US$3,835 million) (previous year 2,829 million Euros, plus 22%).
The highly versatile new Vito is a practical premium mid-size van that offers both space and value. Its adaptability makes it ideal for China’s rapidly growing small- and medium-sized enterprises. It is the only vehicle in its segment offering AGILITY CONTROL suspension with frequency-selective damping.
Alongside the Sprinter, the Vito is now Mercedes-Benz Vans’ second “world van”. Following its introduction in Europe and in other global markets in 2014, the Vito has been available in Latin America, the USA and Canada—in both North American markets it is known as the Metris—since 2015. The introduction in China completes its global launch. With its attractive design and wide choice of variants, the new vehicle sets the standard in its segment.
Fujian Benz Automotive invested around €200 million (US$223 million) in China (1.4 billion RMB) for the production of the new mid-size models Vito and V-Class. In addition to increasing the localization of components and features for these new models, the investment improved the preparation and modernization of the body shell and assembly, as well as providing for the qualification of staff in the company’s Fuzhou plant.
All global mid-size production sites of Mercedes-Benz Vans—in the USA and Argentina, in addition to China—cooperate closely with the specialists at the plant in Vitoria, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ global competence center for mid-size vehicles in Spain. The plant in Vitoria, with very high capacity utilization, supplies all other global markets with the V-Class and—together with the plants in Argentina and the US—all other global markets with the Vito. Numerous employees from China have undergone intensive training in Vitoria, while the experts from Spain were on hand to assist their Chinese colleagues with the ramp-up of production on-site.
Mercedes-Benz Vans expanded its plant in Fuzhou in the south-east of China with its first research and development center outside Germany in 2013. The center focuses on models that are locally produced and marketed. In the development process of the new Vito it was thus possible to take full account of the market and requirements in China.