- Mercedes-Benz is considering whether to bring its Mercedes-Benz Citan compact van to the U.S. to compete with the Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV200.
- Automakers are adopting compact cargo vans sold in other regions of the world for the U.S. market.
- "When the time is right, and we can do it, then we would be bad business people if we wouldn't" offer a compact van in the U.S. market, said Claus Tritt, general manager of commercial vans for Mercedes-Benz USA.
ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Mercedes-Benz will closely watch Ford, Nissan and Ram to determine whether the German automaker will introduce its Mercedes-Benz Citan compact cargo van in the U.S. market.
If approved for U.S. sales, the Mercedes-Benz Citan would be targeted at the Ford Transit Connect and new entries from Nissan and Ram, Chrysler Group's truck line. Each van is a front-wheel-drive configuration and aimed at small delivery tasks, such as provided by a florist, bakery or dry cleaner.
"We are going to wait and see how that shakes out," Claus Tritt told Edmunds.
Tritt, who is general manager of commercial vans for Mercedes-Benz USA, was interviewed during a press event in Michigan.
Citan was co-developed with Renault to reduce development costs. Sales began last year. The French automaker calls its version the Kangoo. Essentially, the grille and badging separate the two models.
Automakers are adopting compact cargo vans sold in other regions of the world for the U.S. market. Ford introduced the Transit Connect to the U.S. market in 2009, a van developed by Ford of Europe and assembled in Turkey. The redesigned model will go on sale later this year. Ford also offers a windowed, passenger version that seats seven.
Nissan's NV200 cargo van is on sale now, and Ram will introduce a rebadged version of the Fiat Doblo some time in 2014.
Tritt expressed caution in terms of the U.S. market. The industry has yet to determine how much demand there is in the U.S. for a front-drive van that has limited capability, a payload capacity of around 1,500 pounds. Ford last year sold about 35,000 Transit Connects.
Tritt said Nissan is aiming to sell 30,000 compact vans annually in the United States, as is Ram.
"Because you have two more nameplates doesn't mean you are going to triple the market," he said. "We are going to wait. And when the time is right, and we can do it, then we would be bad business people if we wouldn't" offer a compact van in the U.S. market.
Edmunds says: If the price is right, there may be space for a luxury compact van from Mercedes-Benz in the U.S.