Mercedes-Benz Vans finished 2011 by setting records for earnings and return on sales in the most successful year overall in the division’s history. EBIT rose 85% to the record level of €835 million (2010: €451 million), while the return on sales increased to 9.1% (2010: 5.8%), also a record. Revenues for 2011 totaled €9.179 billion, a 17% increase compared to the prior year. High global demand for vans resulted in an 18% increase in Mercedes-Benz Vans sales to around 264,200 units, with sales records set in the division’s core markets in particular. Mercedes-Benz Vans also remains the clear leader for medium-sized and large vans in Europe, its most important sales market. The division sold 178,300 units (+14%) in Western Europe and posted unit sales of 77,600 vans (+25%) in its German home market - the best sales result ever for Germany.
Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, commented today in Stuttgart on Mercedes-Benz Vans’ business development as follows: “2011 was an outstanding year for Mercedes-Benz Vans. The records we set for earnings and return on sales have extended our lead in the van segment even further. This makes Mercedes-Benz Vans a true engine of growth for the Daimler Group.”
“Mercedes-Benz Vans Goes Global” growth strategy: product offensive in Europe, model changeover in Latin America, and two-brand strategy in North America
Daimler’s Vans division plans to continue last year’s positive developments in 2012 and 2013 by achieving further increases in unit sales, revenues, and earnings. The foundation for future success has been laid by the strategic approach employed at Mercedes-Benz Vans, which focuses on three areas: exploitation of all growth potential in traditional markets, penetration into new fast-growing markets, and technology leadership in combination with an attractive product portfolio.
“In addition, our Mercedes-Benz Vans Goes Global growth strategy is accelerating our business development not only in Europe but also in the U.S., Latin America, China, and Russia. Our goal now is to achieve annual global unit sales of more than 400,000 vans by 2015,” said Volker Mornhinweg.
Daimler’s Vans division plans to expand its lead in Europe by entering the rapidly growing segment for small vans. The division’s all-new Mercedes-Benz Citan will round out the product portfolio here before the year is over. The Citan is designed for commercial customers and will initially be offered in different lengths and weight classes. This new city delivery van will be launched in the fall of 2012 to coincide with the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show. The Citan also happens to be the first vehicle to hit the road as a result of the strategic partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.
“The trend toward small vans for use in flexible and versatile urban logistics systems offers our division a huge opportunity,” said Mornhinweg. “The market volume for such vans in Europe alone now stands at approximately 700,000 units per year, and that number will rise. Our new Citan was designed to help us achieve a market share of 4% to 5% precisely in this segment and to fully exploit all the available growth potential.”
Mercedes-Benz Vans has had a strong presence on the Latin American market for decades and is the leading premium manufacturer in the region. The division sold 13,600 units in Latin America in 2011, an increase of 9% compared to the prior year. At the end of last year, Mercedes-Benz Vans shifted the production operations at the Centro Industrial Juan Manuel Fangio plant in Argentina (near Buenos Aires) to the current European Sprinter series and raised the manufacturing capacity accordingly. The Sprinter is offered mainly as a bus variant in Latin America in order to benefit from the rapidly rising demand for passenger transport vehicles. Mercedes-Benz has also now begun manufacturing in Argentina the OM 651 diesel engine, which is already available in Europe. These projects had a total investment volume of more than €70 million. Mercedes-Benz Vans’ clear goal at the moment is to increase van sales by more than 30% in Latin America over the next five years.
Mercedes-Benz Vans also remains on course for success in North America, where it is systematically forging ahead with its two-brand strategy for the Sprinter. The model is offered to American and Canadian customers under either the Mercedes-Benz or the Freightliner brand name. The favorable market conditions in the region and the establishment of a new Mercedes-Benz sales organization led to a 72% increase in unit sales in the U.S. alone in 2011, to 18,000 vans. In view of this development, Mercedes-Benz Vans has increased the production volume for the Sprinter at its plant in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Mercedes-Benz Vans Goes Global” growth strategy: Launch of third model series in China Mercedes-Benz Vans places a high priority on its successful entry and penetration into the growth market China. These activities are firmly incorporated into the division’s “Mercedes-Benz Vans Goes Global” strategy.
Mercedes-Benz Vans is the only manufacturer to date that produces vans locally in China. The vans with the star have been built by a joint venture in China since 2010. On March 1, 2012, the van joint venture with Fujian Motors was given a new name: Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation. The Vito and Viano models are manufactured at the Fuzhou plant, where a bus version of the Sprinter also went into production in October 2011. Mercedes-Benz Vans is targeting the high-end passenger transport and exclusive shuttle services segments in China. Despite a slightly contracting market, Daimler’s Vans division increased its sales in China by 11% to 13,500 units in 2011. The division’s dealership network has also been expanded to 50 sales partners.
Investment in products and innovations
Mercedes-Benz Vans invests extensively in new products and technologies and therefore has a very young product range. The division increased its research and development expenditure by 34% to €358 million in 2011 (2010: €267 million), and Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to continue on this course.
On the product side, Mercedes-Benz Vans launched the new generation of the Vito and the Viano across all markets last year. The models were very well received by customers and dealers. Mercedes-Benz Vans is focusing on specific customer requirements with these new-generation model series by clearly distinguishing between the Viano for private usage and the Vito for commercial applications.
Last year Mercedes-Benz Vans celebrated the 125th anniversary of the invention of the automobile by presenting the Viano “Avantgarde Edition 125” - a special model with a V6 engine and high-end interior appointments. In addition, the division showed what is possible in the premium van segment by unveiling its “Viano Vision Pearl” show car at the IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt. Mercedes-Benz Vans also introduced the Vito Crew and the Vito Shuttle for commercial customers last year. The Vito Crew provides service companies and commercial customers in various technical trades with a robust van, while the Vito Shuttle is targeted at customers who use vans for the professional transportation of passengers as hotel shuttles or minivan taxis.
Last year the division posted sales of 98,000 vans in the medium-sized segment (to which the Vito and the Viano belong), an increase of 26% compared to the prior year. The Viano also set a new record by increasing sales by 40% to 30,500 units.
Mercedes-Benz Vans remains the leader for new and environmentally friendly van technologies with the Vito E-CELL - the world’s first series-produced electric van. Thanks to its locally zero-emission drive system, the Vito E-CELL is ideal for use in inner cities and areas with very sensitive environments. More than 500 Vito E-CELL models have now been manufactured and delivered to European customers for testing under everyday conditions. A total of 230 Vito E-CELLs have already clocked up more than 650,000 kilometers in several model regions in Germany. Plans call for 2,000 Vito E-CELLs to be delivered throughout Europe by the end of 2012.
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