If you’ve been looking for a Sprinter cargo van to convert into a camper van then you’ve probably also seen the Freightliner vans that look identical except for the logos.
So, what exactly is the difference between Freightliner and Mercedes Sprinter vans?
The short answer:
Except for a few differences such as sizing availability, manufacturing, brand name, short term, and long-term costs, the Freightliner and Mercedes Sprinter vans are almost identical. They are both made by the Mercedes Benz company, but the difference lies in where and how they are assembled.
Let us look at some of the key differences.
The first, and most obvious, difference between the Freightliner Sprinter and the Mercedes Sprinter is the brand name. The German-owned Mercedes Benz company is widely known as a leader in luxury cars. A sprinter van is not the first thing you might imagine being made by Mercedes, but the company was the original creator of the Sprinter van.
Freightliner, however, is an American automobile manufacturer that dates to the late 1920s. First created as a truck manufacturing company, Freightliner now sells mostly large, commercial, semi-trucks, and truck parts.
Another difference between the Mercedes Benz and Freightliner Sprinter vans is the manufacturing and distribution process. The Mercedes company has a straightforward process for the production and sale of their Sprinter vans. They build their vans in Germany and ship their vans around the world.
Freightliner does not have a straightforward process to build and sell their Sprinter vans and the reason for this might surprise you! The parent company to Freightliner is currently the Mercedes Benz company.
Mercedes builds the Freightliner Sprinter vans in Germany. However, due to United States import tax laws, instead of importing the vans, Mercedes avoids the tax altogether. This is done by building the Freightliner Sprinter vans in Germany, disassembling them, shipping them to the United States, and then having the Freightliner America company reassemble and sell them throughout North America.
One difference between the Mercedes and Freightliner Sprinter vans are the sizes that the vans are currently available in. For Freightliner, their Sprinter vans come in a 144-inch wheelbase and a 170-inch wheelbase.
The Mercedes Sprinter, on the other hand, comes in three sizes. It comes in both the 44 and 170-inch wheelbases, but their Sprinter also comes in a 170-inch extended wheelbase. The actual size difference between the 170 and 170 extended is only about 15.7 inches.
Short Term Costs
Besides the available sizes, the most recognizable difference between the Mercedes Benz and Freightliner Sprinter vans is the short-term cost of each. Mercedes Benz is a luxury automobile brand, and their sprinter vans are no different from their other products when it comes to their opulence.
Riding in the comfort of a Mercedes will hurt your wallet, no matter the model. The cheapest Mercedes Benz sprinter van option is the 144 size is around $40,000. The base price for the Freightliner Sprinter, however, is around $5,000 cheaper.
Long Term Costs
The last difference between the Mercedes Benz and Freightliner Sprinter vans is the long-term costs associated with owning each. The Sprinter vans that are produced under the Freightliner brand name are going to cost less in long-term maintenance and repair bills compared to Mercedes.
There are also plenty of Freightliner service centers across the United States. If you are looking for one, however, be sure that they service Sprinter vans and not exclusively semi-trucks.
Because Mercedes Benz is a luxury brand, Benz Sprinter van owners can expect to have a higher bill for long-term care and maintenance of their vehicles. Mercedes Benz also has a semi-monopoly on their service centers and many owners have no other option but to use a certified Mercedes dealer for repairs.
No Difference in Functionality
When it comes down to the differences between the Mercedes and Freightliner Sprinter vans, they are mainly outside differences and do not affect the functionality of the vehicles. Because the vans are both manufactured at the same plant, by the same company, they feature the same parts and pieces as one another.
Engine types and sizes, payload, towing capacity, and transmission speeds are identical whether you are looking under the hood of a Freightliner or a Mercedes Benz.
The Mercedes Benz company made an announcement that they would be discontinuing the manufacturing and sale of the Freightliner Sprinter Van. For Mercedes, they will only be offering their brand of Sprinter from 2022 and beyond.
Buyers will still be able to purchase prior models and used sprinter vans from Freightliner, and both the Freightliner and Mercedes Benz companies will still provide parts and service to the Freightliner Sprinter models.
While the reason for this change is murky, it has been speculated that the rise of cheaper Sprinter van options, like Ford and Chrysler, have worn down the profit margins for the Freightliner company. Mercedes instead, it is thought, want to shift their focus solely to a luxury version Sprinter van with less competition in a crowded market.
Both Mercedes Benz and Freightliner have versions of a sprinter van that have grown in popularity over the last decade. Though they are both considered Class B vehicles once they have undergone a camper van conversion, there are several differences between the two vans.
Manufacturing, size, price, and long-term costs are all major differences between the Sprinter vans. Continue reading further as we explore these differences more in-depth and, hopefully, provide useful information if you are considering the purchase of a Sprinter van for either conversion or cargo.
What is a Sprinter Van?
A sprinter is a type of light, commercial van that can be used as a minibus, cargo transporter, or empty chassis cab for camper conversions. Sprinter vans come in a variety of sizes and can usually seat from 12 to 42 people. Both the size and usage of the Sprinter van will determine the cost.
The term ‘sprinter’ was coined by the Mercedes Benz company in the 1970s and has since been popularized as a generic eponym. Sprinter vans are tall and most recognizable. Other companies have capitalized on the renewed popularity of these vans and have created their own versions.
(featured image: freightlinersprinterusa.com)