Sprinter was last redesigned early in 2013. Latest line was first in its segment to meet Euro VI emission standards

Sprinter was last redesigned early in 2013. Latest line was first in its segment to meet Euro VI emission standards

Mercedes-Benz plans to assemble its next generation Sprinter commercial van in North America.

Current model Sprinters sold in the US are first assembled and partially dismantled in the automaker’s German factories before being shipped to Charleston, South Carolina, to be re-assembled.

Although time consuming, this gets around high import duties in the US where Mercedes sold some 23,000 models last year.

The company said this process results in a significant competitive disadvantage in the US, leading to long delivery times and making the vehicle more expensive.

Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: "We can cover the growing demand for large vans in the North American market economically only if we produce the vehicles locally in the NAFTA region. That's why we have decided to produce the next generation Sprinter in North America."

He added Mercedes would decide on the exact production location in coming months.

Meanwhile Daimler would spend EUR450m (US$570m) at its plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde.

At Düsseldorf, the lead plant for global Sprinter production at around 150,000 vehicles a year, EUR300m (US$380) will be spent to modernise the body and paint shops plus the assembly line while EUR150m (US$190m) will be spent at Ludwigsfelde, which builds 50,000 units annually, to "safeguard the long-term competitiveness of the plant", according to factory chief Michael Bauer.

Mornhinweg said: "Our plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde have a highly skilled workforce that has built up a comprehensive van production know-how over a period of several decades. That's why we are putting these two plants at the centre of our production strategy for the next generation Sprinter."

Over 2.5m Sprinters have been made since 1995 and the model is on sale in 130 countries. It is a key pillar of Mercedes’ worldwide growth strategy "vans goes global" which aims to systematically internationalise the division's business operations and exploit sales potential in the growth markets outside Europe.

The Sprinter is also assembled in González Catan, Argentina, Fuzhou, China, and Nizhny Novgorod in Russia.