Vanlife is trendy and the market is booming, even – or especially – at the present time. In Germany, for instance, new registrations reached a new high in 2020 according to the German Caravaning Industry Association (CIVD), with about 80,000 newly registered motorhomes. The situation is quite similar in the rest of Europe and in the U.S. And the prognosis for 2021 is also promising. In particular it is the compact camper vans that are driving growth – being suitable for both travel and everyday use. Reason enough for Mercedes-Benz Vans to give a first glimpse into the motorhome year 2021, together with Klaus Rehkugler, the new Head of Sales and Marketing.
Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo family even more popular
"We are very satisfied with the current order situation for our Marco Polo camper van family – in 2021 we want to sell around 25 percent more of these vehicles. To do that, we will be surprising our customers with new product features, amongst other things. We also see real potential for growth in the following years, and we will generate additional sales from that," says Klaus Rehkugler.
The Marco Polo family, consisting of the fully equipped Marco Polo camper van and the Marco Polo HORIZON and ACTIVITY fitted with a pop-up roof and seat/bunk combination, will be available on request with the following new equipment as from the spring of 2021:
- Marco Polo HORIZON and ACTIVITY available for the first time with an external power connection: the 230-volt socket now also facilitates extended camping stays in the Marco Polo HORIZON and ACTIVITY and makes them more comfortable too.
- URBAN GUARD driver protection available in all model variants: URBAN GUARD warns both acoustically and visually when a break-in or theft is detected. In the event of theft, the stolen vehicle can be traced and located using Mercedes me connect.
- Blind Spot Assist enhanced with Rear Cross Traffic Alert: Rear Cross Traffic Alert assists drivers when reversing out of a parking space by issuing an acoustic warning tone when another vehicle crosses at the rear.
Mercedes-Benz forges new paths with its midsize vans
In addition to its own Marco Polo camper van family, Mercedes-Benz Vans works closely with motorhome manufacturers and provides base vehicles for their bodies and conversions.
"Vanlife is popular worldwide. Increasingly, the trend is leaning towards camper vans that are as suitable for everyday use as they are for travelling. We will meet this demand, not only with our Marco Polo family, but increasingly with suitable base vehicles. Here our midsize vans, the Vito and the V-Class, play a particularly important role due to their compact external dimensions," says Klaus Rehkugler.
In 2021 Pössl, a motorhome manufacturer from Upper Bavaria in Germany that specialises in panel van conversions, will launch two new camper vans based on the Mercedes-Benz V-Class and the Vito onto the European market: the Campstar and Vanstar.
And in the U.S. too, Mercedes-Benz midsize vans are breaking into the camper van segment – a first for the market. As one of the first U.S. manufacturers in this segment, Driverge Vehicle Innovations from Charleston, South Carolina is counting on the Vito, launching the Metris Getaway.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter impresses both long-standing companies and start-ups
Since the market launch of the third-generation Sprinter, the large van produced by Mercedes-Benz has taken a special road to success in the motorhome industry.
"Since 2018 numerous new motorhomes based on the Sprinter have been presented – and that worldwide. In the last six months alone more than ten new models have celebrated their premiere; from camper vans to semi-integrated and fully-integrated motorhomes. These include models from long-standing companies such as Bürstner, Carthago, Eura Mobil, Frankia, Hymer, Kabe or La Strada. However, the Sprinter impresses start-up companies too – like Alphavan from Wangen in Germany's Allgäu region. This shows just how diverse and innovative our large van is" Klaus Rehkugler points out.
A central topic for the Sprinter in 2021 is the roll-out of the new generation of the OM 654 engine from the Mercedes-Benz passenger car portfolio. The OM 654 is powerful and at the same time efficient thanks to an integrated technological approach with a stepped recess combustion process, dynamic multiway exhaust gas recirculation and an exhaust-gas aftertreatment system located close to the engine.
The panel van and rear-wheel drive chassis are the first variants of the Sprinter with the four-cylinder diesel generation of the OM 654 engine family. As a further innovation, Mercedes-Benz is combining the modern
2.0-litre engine with the comfortable 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission as an alternative to a 6-gear manual transmission.
Further Sprinter innovations in 2021: As of now, Mercedes-Benz extends the basic services of Mercedes me connect that are available free of charge for the Sprinter when used as a motorhome base. In addition to the Maintenance, Accident and Breakdown Management services as well as Telediagnostics and Remote Vehicle diagnostics, the services Vehicle Setup and Vehicle Monitoring are now available cost-free as standard for three years. While the Vehicle Setup services make it possible to call up the tyre pressure or fuel level via the smartphone app, the Vehicle Monitoring services allow the user to determine the vehicle's location.
Mercedes-Benz Citan: world premiere of the small van in 2021
Mercedes-Benz Vans is not only represented in the mid and large size van segment, but in the small size segment too. In the small van segment, Mercedes-Benz will present the successor to the Citan in the second half of 2021, as part of the Mercedes-Benz Vans product portfolio.
The new Citan is a comprehensively new development. The vehicle will have the brand-typical DNA, e.g. in terms of a distinctive design, safety and connectivity.
Compact external dimensions teamed with a generous amount of space in the interior also open up a diverse range of possibilities for the new small van in the motorhome conversion segment. Wide-opening sliding doors both on the left and the right side of the vehicle and a low loading sill enable comfortable access to the interior and easy loading of the vehicle. In addition to its high functionality and variability, the vehicle concept promises comprehensive safety equipment and a high level of ride comfort.
"The new Citan is one of our highlights in 2021," Klaus Rehkugler concludes. "But there is even more to come. Wait and see which other trends Mercedes-Benz Vans will address in the motorhome segment."