Mercedes-Benz has reformatted its van upfitting program ahead of the launch of the 2016 Metris mid-size van, which has begun arriving at dealer lots.
The Metris will join the full-size Sprinter at Mercedes-Benz dealerships that sell vans. Right now, 179 of the 350 U.S. dealers carry vans. The Metris arrives as the lone offering in the mid-size van segment. Ram discontinued its C/V Tradesman after the 2015 model year.
For the Metris introduction, Mercedes-Benz has launched its MasterUpfitter web portal that provides various resources for commercial vehicle users and company providing racks, bins, and other equipment for the Metris and Sprinter vans. The program offers fleets a list of 36 qualified upfitters, including Ranger Design, Leggett & Platt CVP, and Thermo King. Upfitters will provide photos, product brochures, and videos for the portal.
Under the program, upfitters agree to provide a three-year or 36,000-mile basic limited warranty covering their components and installations. Vans sold through the program also qualify for special vehicle financing options through Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.
Fleets can also take advantage of ship-thru or ship-to logistics programs that can save customers time and money, according to Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz will offer the Metris as a cargo and passenger model powered by a turbocharged inline-four that delivers 208 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque via a 7-speed transmission to a rear-wheel drivetrain. The van should achieve 22 mpg in combined driving cycles, said Matthias Geisen, general manager of product management and marketing.
The Metris will offer 2,502 pounds of payload capacity and can tow 4,960 pounds.
Mercedes-Benz expects the bulk of cargo van sales to go to service and goods delivery fleets. Passenger and cargo model sales should be evenly split, Geisen said at an Oct. 2 media event in Los Angeles.
Metris buyers should mostly come from customers who are not satisfies with the capabilities offered by compact vans, Geisen said. The company also expects buyers who downsize from full-size vans, as well as small businesses that used the Ram C/V Tradesman.
Mercedes-Benz will initially offer a Metris cargo panel van, and will add a side-window package at some point. Standard safety equipment includes up to six airbags, a drowsy driving feature known as Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist, and load-adaptive electronic stability control.
Optional safety equipment includes parallel parking assist, lane-keeping assist, collision prevention alerts, a rear-view camera, and blind-spot assist tied to driver lane movement signaling.
The Metris cargo van retails for $29,945, while the passenger model retails for $33,495.
Editor's note: For more in-depth coverage, view the Metris page on our van channel.