In 2013, Mercedes-Benz Vans launched the new Sprinter — the global vehicle in the van segment. With its new safety and assistance systems, the Sprinter sets new standards in its class. Our unit sales increased in 2013 and we achieved double-digit growth rates in China, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Despite sharp market declines in Western European, we were able to improve our earnings. We are continuing our “Vans goes global” growth strategy. By starting production of the Sprinter Classic in Russia and strengthening our activities in China, we have laid the foundations for continued growth.
|Amounts in millions of euros||% change|
|Return on sales (in %)||6.7||6.0||.|
|Investment in property, plant and equipment||288||223||+29|
|Research and development expenditure||321||371||-13|
|Employees (December 31)||14,838||14,916||-1|
|Unit sales by Mercedes-Benz Vans|
|Latin America (excluding Mexico)||19,580||13,954||+40|
Growth in unit sales, revenue and earnings. Despite difficult market conditions in Europe, global unit sales by Mercedes-Benz Vans increased by 7% in financial year 2013. Altogether, 270,100 units of the Sprinter, Vito, Viano, Vario and Citan models were sold. We achieved
double-digit growth rates in China (+44%), Latin America (+40%) and Eastern Europe (+12%). At €9.4 billion, revenue was also higher than in the previous year (2012: €9.1 billion). We posted EBIT of €631 million, which is an improvement of 16% over the prior-year result. (See table D.05)
Improved earnings thanks to Performance Vans 2013. In the year under review, Mercedes-Benz Vans successfully completed the short-term earnings-improving program “Performance Vans 2013” and implemented the related measures. Important components of the program included
cost optimizations across the entire organization. In the context of efficiency improvements in the area of production, assembly times per vehicle were reduced as a result of various actions. Additional savings were achieved also in the area of logistics and with production-material costs. As well as optimizing costs, “Performance Vans 2013” is also improving the revenue situation. The Citan was launched in the Russian market for example, and additional potential was utilized for our entire product range in the fleet business and in Latin America.
Continued success of the product range. Worldwide, Mercedes-Benz Vans sold 270,100 units of the Sprinter, Vito, Viano, Vario and Citan models in 2013. This was an increase of 7% compared with the previous year. (See table D.06) In our core region of Western Europe, sales increased
by 3% to 169,200 units. Of the Citan city van, which was introduced in the fall of 2012, Mercedes-Benz Vans sold 17,700 units in Western Europe (2012: 6,400). Unit sales of medium-sized and large vans decreased by 4% to 151,500 vehicles, primarily due to the ongoing very difficult situation in the countries of Southern Europe. In Germany, our domestic market, we sold 71,500 vans (2012: 71,000). In Eastern Europe, especially in Russia and Turkey, Mercedes-Benz Vans once again posted positive sales results. Sales in this region rose to 26,900 units, equivalent to growth of 12%. The Sprinter continued its success story also in North and South America in 2013. In Latin America, we posted substantial growth of 40% to 19,600 units, while sales in the United States rose by 6% to 22,800 vehicles. After a significant decrease in the previous year, sales figures for Mercedes-Benz Vans in the Chinese market rebounded energetically, and with 12,700 units surpassed the prior-year unit sales by 44%. We sold 166,200 units of the Sprinter worldwide in 2013, which is an increase of 5% compared with 2012. Altogether, 80,900 units of the Vito and Viano models were sold in 2013 (2012: 83,700). The Mercedes-Benz Citan accounted for 20,200 units in its first full year of production. Unit sales of the Vario, production of which was discontinued in September, amounted to 2,900 vehicles.
Major capital expenditure in Spain. We are investing almost €200 million in the van plant in Vitoria, Spain. The investment will prepare that facility for production of the new V-Class and the new Vito starting in 2014. The funds are mainly being used for the modernization
and reorganization of the body shop, the paint shop and the assembly lines. We are also optimizing the logistics at the site. Another consequence of this investment is that new jobs will be created at the plant.
World Premiere of the new V-Class
Benchmark and global vehicle: the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Having lent its name to an entire class of vehicles, it is the innovation leader and the true global vehicle among vans: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. After more than eight million test kilometers and investment
of €300 million, the new Sprinter was launched by Mercedes-Benz Vans in 2013. Production began in July at the two German plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde. With five new assistance systems, the Sprinter sets new standards for safety in its class. Three of those systems made their global van debut. While Crosswind Assist comes as standard equipment, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST (a proximity warning system) and Blind Spot Assist are both available as options. Other new features include High-beam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. The development engineers at Mercedes-Benz are convinced that these electronic “assistants” will have a significant positive impact on the number and seriousness of accidents. In addition, Mercedes-Benz has improved the Sprinter’s handling even further. The lowering of the chassis has improved the van’s wind resistance and fuel consumption, and makes it easier to load and unload cargo. What’s more, the new Sprinter is also associated with yet another world premiere. For the first time, the complete range of engines was converted to meet the strict Euro VI emissions standard before it went into effect. Euro VI drastically reduces the emission limits for nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particle mass. The Sprinter is able to meet these tough limits thanks to BLUETEC engine technology and an SCR system that injects AdBlue into the exhaust gas. At the same time, the Sprinter is the segment’s undisputed leader in terms of fuel efficiency. Combined fuel consumption is as low as [--break--] 6.3 l/100 km, thanks to the combination of highly efficient diesel engines, an optimized drivetrain, a longer axle ratio, ancillary units and the efficiency package “BlueEFFICIENCY PLUS.” This is a sensational new record for Sprinter class vehicles.
The new Sprinter 2013
Global growth strategy on the right track. With its “Vans goes global” strategy, Mercedes-Benz Vans strives to utilize new growth potential and expand existing activities within and beyond the core European markets. Along with the United States and Latin America, China and Russia
are particularly important growth regions. Accordingly, we intensified our activities in China in 2013. In March, the new research and development center of the Chinese vans joint venture, “Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation,” was officially opened in Fuzhou. This facility, which is the first research and development center of the Vans division outside Germany, includes a test track, test rigs, an exhaust gas lab and an endurance testing workshop. The focus is on the vehicles that Mercedes-Benz Vans produces and sells locally in China: the Sprinter, Vito and Viano. We also passed a milestone in our vans strategy with the start of production of our Sprinter Classic in Russia. In the second half of 2013, we began producing the Sprinter Classic there in cooperation with Russia’s largest van manufacturer, GAZ. These locally produced vehicles are sold in the Russian market through the Mercedes-Benz sales organization. Another aspect of the partnership involves the joint production of engines. The GAZ facility in Yaroslavl manufactures Mercedes-Benz OM646 four-cylinder diesel engines, which are subsequently installed in the Sprinter Classic.