Last week, Mercedes-Benz launched a new minivan for the European market that could- if you look closely enough- be the single most disruptive new vehicle launch of the year. The way you move your pets, plants, and people around in the near future could look very much like this.
Why do I think this new Mercedes van will be so disruptive? Look at what the Mercedes-Benz’ Sprinter did to the commercial van market, and you’ll start to get a sense of what’s coming minivans (“MPV” in Europe).
When Mercedes’ Sprinter first arrived on US shores as a Dodge, it replaced the aging Ram Van and so thoroughly outclassed the class-leading Ford Econoline commercial van that, in the decade-or-so since, the Econoline has been discontinued. From six-figure sales to nothing, and that’s with a dealer and outfitter network many thousands strong. Ford’s only hope to stay relevant in what is now the Sprinter market is to copy the big Benz as closely as possible- only Ford doesn’t really know what’s important to copy and what isn’t. You can tell, because their play wasn’t to build a van that out-Sprintered the Sprinter- it was more along the lines of “that European van is doing well, we should have our own European van”. Now they do- in small and large sizes, and the Sprinter is cleaning its clock.
Now, imagine you’re Chrysler. You’ve got the biggest chunk of the remaining minivan market secured with your Caravan and Town and Country models. You’ve got a lot to lose. Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, also have big money tied up in minivans, and Ford’s Flex is a minivan, no matter how hard they try to convince suburban soccer moms it ain’t.
Those models will soon be faced with competing against something they have no answer for: the cachet of the 3-pointed star.
Ignore the fact that the new 2015 Mercedes minivan, called the V class and set to launch as the V250 Bluetec, will offer nearly 40 MPG from its massively powerful 320 lb-ft of torque engine (6L/100km, 440 Nm). Ignore the fact that it is a good-looking, expensively detailed competitor in a class that’s been lacking serious innovation for nearly a decade. Ignore, even, the fact that the new Mercedes-Benz V250 will be a class-leader in just about every sense of the word, because none of that matters.
This is a Mercedes.
This is a Mercedes with an iPhone in the dash and Apple TVs keeping the kids quiet in the luxurious, yet easily-accessible and easy to clean back seats. With room for all your expensive show dogs and fancy plants.
If it’s priced anywhere near the competition- or, worse!- if it leases anywhere near the competition, this new Mercedes-Benz will crush the Hondas, Toyotas, and Chryslers of the minivan world. Forget about the Mazda 5 (everyone else has), too- this is the shape of boxy performance, and you’d better get used to it.
If Mercedes brings the new V class stateside, it’ll be sometime in 2015- possibly as a 2016 model. You can check it out in the photos, below. Enjoy!
Source | Photos: Mercedes-Benz.