Spanning for a period longer than a whole century, Mercedes-Benz and their Vans have gone through the complete timeline from its first ever model to the latest one. A reflection of the company’s technical prowess, the van segment went from being simple delivery vehicles in the beginning to versatile and technologically advanced models of today’s era.
The evolution of Mercedes-Benz and its cars incites as much wonder as would be expected of one of the oldest car makers in the world. All of Mercedes-Benz segments have undergone the drastic changes and evolution as compared to how they first appeared, more than a century ago. One of those vehicle types are the Mercedes-Benz Vans. Even before the term ‘van’ came into use, both the Mercedes-Benz parent companies- Benz & Cie. and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, were producing coach style delivery vehicles which would later come to be known as Mercedes-Benz’s first vans ever.
Two of these vehicles were the Benz Combinations-Lieferungs-Wagen of 1896 and DMG’s 1897 Daimler-Geschäftswagen, both used as delivery vehicles. The former carrying a 2.5-hp one-cylinder engine with 300 kilograms of payload and the latter with a payload of 500 to 2000 kg. These two vehicles were the first in their category and paved a way for more advancement to take place in this segment. Benz & Cie. in 1911 started building the Benz-Gaggenau Lieferungswagen, which covered all the shortcomings of its simple ancestor. This vehicle was many leaps ahead of the first model with its many features like headlights and a folding hood.
However, it still wasn’t anywhere close to the true potential that would be unlocked with the coming wave of scientific and technical innovation. After DMG and Benz & Cie. merged in 1926, the Mercedes-Benz luxury brand as we know today came into existence. This merger also introduced the first van bearing the company title- it was the Mercedes-Benz L1, which doubled as a truck and a van. It became the first automobile of its kind to feature an enclosed cabin and side windows.
As the brand name grew, so did their vans’ popularity. During the commercially thriving year of 1955, Mercedes-Benz L 319 became a go-to van for everyone. It owed its success to its ground-breaking design which was based on the new cab-over-engine model. Not only that, it had a slew of new features that set it apart from all its predecessors and laid foundation for the new vans to come.
The main appeal of 1967’s Düsseldorfer, apart from its unique design, was ‘easy access’ which was bolstered by a bigger space further allowing larger movement. The van also went through major enhancements in 1977 and 1981 to maintain its saleability and position in the ever-changing car market.
Mercedes-Benz launched the Bremer in 1977, in which it bid adieu to the in-use cab-over-engine design. A smaller engine and adjustable driver’s seat made the T1 even more appealing to new customers. Almost one-million unit production of this van is testament to its success.
The 1990’s and advent of the 21st century witnessed arrival and huge success of the Sprinter and its multiple generations. First launched in 1995, it was unlike any other Mercedes-Benz van created before. It hosted incomparable features, with variable engine, passenger car-like ventilation, and a first of its kind safety system. Going further, the Sprinter was also enhanced in the year 2000. Its second-gen came in 2006 which remained true to its slogan of ‘making good things even better’. Today, the latest available Sprinter is 2018 model- third generation of this van which carries the legacy of all previous Mercedes-Benz vans.
Among the outstanding innovations of the current Sprinter is the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system with 10.25-inch touchscreen, voice control and voice output, it made it’s entry in 2018.
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