Russia Sprinter production levels recently exceeded 10,000

Russia Sprinter production levels recently exceeded 10,000

Mercedes-Benz says it will not produce more Sprinter vans in Russia than the market demands as partner GAZ also acts cautiously in the current volatile economic environment.

Alll producers are anxiously looking to an uptick in relentlessly downbeat numbers emanating from the sanctions-hit country, undergoing severe economic turmoil.

Many would argue that pressure is completely self-inflicted from the political fall-out with Eastern Ukraine and Crimea - as international disapproval vents itself in the form of tough sanctions which have sent the rouble plunging and government finances squeezed from falling oil prices.

Mercedes-Benz started production of its Sprinter van in 2013 and exceeded the 10,000 unit level last month using around 250 localised Russian parts as well as those from traditional supplies such as Takata, Lear and Pirelli.

In 2014 the German company sold a record 6,600 Sprinters, with the Classic the most popular Mercedes-Benz van in Russia and top among foreign brands.

The van has the OM646 engine, built in Yaroslavl, while all models have electronic stability control, ABS and ASR as standard.

"We produce around 70 vehicles per day, but the target is not to produce more than the demand," Mercedes-Benz Sprinter head of quality, Mario Wildgrube told just-auto on the German manufacturer's production line at partner GAZ Group's factory in Nizhny Novgorod.

"We are doing the whole nine inches here. I am responsible for the quality of parts from the supplier side.

"The GAZ guys visit us quite often in Germany and we made a clear plan how these processes should look like. It is copy/paste from a German plant."

In 2010, GAZ Group and Daimler inked a deal to produce the Sprinter in Nizhny, with full-cycle production starting in 2013, which includes welding, painting and assembly.

GAZ CEO, Vadim Sorokin also echoed the caution of his German colleagues, noting to just-auto in the Nizhny factory: "As soon as the market demands more vehicles, more trucks, we will immediately ramp up.

"For the currrent situation, the optimim operation mode is one shift per day. Adding one more shift will immediately require huge overheads."

Sprinter production exceeded the 10,000 unit level last month using around 250 localised Russian parts as well as those from traditional suppliers such as Takata, Lear and Pirelli.

In 2014 the German company sold a record 6,600 Sprinters, with the Classic the most popular Mercedes-Benz van in Russia and top among foreign brands.

The van has the OM646 engine, built in Yaroslavl.