In the Canadian market for more than 50 years, Mercedes-Benz has both integrated and generated the first commercial vehicle out of its brand, known as the Sprinter.
Michael Pflueger, Director of Mercedes-Benz Canada, emphasizes that the key task for the automotive brand is to break away from the stereotype. North Americans do not typically associate the Mercedes-Benz brand as "blue collar" work-type vehicles, like vans and work vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz brand is not just a premium product. It is a commercial brand as well, the development of which has been described as essential to the company’s business planning. In fact, Mercedes-Benz is the oldest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world.
Pflueger is tasked with rebuilding the Mercedes-Benz business and brand across Canada to expand in order to accommodate the more commercial perspective and an overall refinement of the Mercedes-Benz engineering fundamentals.
Featuring the Sprinter
A very competitive product, the Sprinter is also a real global player, according to Pflueger, available nearly worldwide, selling more than 280,000 units in 2008. Now available in Canada, the Sprinter owns approximately 10 per cent of the respective market share as a leading product and has set the benchmark in "technology, safety, fuel efficiency and performance."
Touted as the most experienced manufacturer of vans and trucks, Mercedes-Benz wants to bring that aspect of its brand to the Canadian market, such as parcel and delivery service vehicles, plumbing and tradesmen vehicles, ambulances, etc., adding that the company has a very diverse customer segment ("vehicles work as hard as the customer", according to the company’s website) with its vehicles, with upfitters for modification and about 50 to 60 per cent of that market to modify the vehicle for a specific customer, whether it be police, recreational vehicle (RV), or an ambulance, etc.
"To reach this is to also show to the people in Canada that we have fleets behind us…really big fleets, they like the product that is proven in high quality, efficiency and reliability," added Pflueger.
Low emissions green initiatives
Environmental and ‘going green’ initiatives serve as one of the largest selling points for Mercedes-Benz. With the ultimate goal of lowering environmentally harmful emissions, according to Pflueger, 95 per cent of the Sprinter is seen as recyclable. "The whole company basically has an established environmental management system in production in the dealership."
"BlueTec is basically the exhaust after-treatment," summarized Pflueger. "The Common Rail is a technology that helps us reach our fuel consumption targets, so it is essentially an integrated technology in the engine. The Sprinter utilizes a diesel engine that is still a conventional design engine which is very powerful, particularly given its size, but also very efficient. There is a small chemical "plant" behind the engine to basically reduce these toxic gases."
Additionally, the low sulphur BlueTec green-friendly, cleanest diesel technology, optimizes fuel consumption and combines measures to reduce emissions by filtering exhaust gases through a catalytic converter, then mixed with a water-based odourless solution (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), which converts pollutant nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water for a substantial reduction in pollutants and soot particles, to comply with strict emission standards and regulations.
Pursuing business growth
The company plans to pursue its growth through the likability of the product and networking.
Selling a commercial van is a very rational process for Pflueger, who likens it to buying a tool. To succeed in the marketplace, Mercedes-Benz strives to offer the best purchasing and servicing experience. Building on their longstanding values of financial logic, they make a point of offering a diverse product range packed with strong fleet incentives. Each van offers the same high levels of safety, quality and durability as their luxury cars. It is this same attention to detail that governs all aspects of their delivery and post-sale service protocols.
"Our goal for Canadian operations is to reach a market share which is reasonable and follows the market shares we have in other countries," added Pflueger. "At the moment, after the first year of operation, we are about a 10 per cent market share. We will, for sure, have a higher market share in the future because the key is the right product, service and performance mix."