By most accounts, Daimler and the Volkswagen Group are major rivals. But in the world of international automakers, there have been a number of unusual or unlikely collaborations and joint ventures on various projects. In developing its Crafter commercial van, Volkswagen collaborated with Daimler. The Crafter is essentially a rebadged Sprinter. But for the next-generation model, VW is reportedly breaking its ties to Daimler in favor of MAN Trucks, Reuters reports. Volkswagen holds a controlling interest in MAN Trucks. Volkswagen's contract with Daimler for production and development of the Crafter expires at the end of 2016.
Volkswagen does not sell the Crafter in the U.S. market, and has no substantial presence in the North American market for commercial vehicles. Daimler, on the other hand, owns several well-recognized heavy truck brands in the North American market, including Freightliner, Western Star, and Thomas Built buses. Volkswagen was reported to be interested in buying troubled truckmaker Navistar to gain a presence in the North American heavy truck market.
We reported in April 2012 of the consolidation and streamlining of Volkswagen's commercial brands, Sweden-based Scania and MAN, which the company believed could save as much as $250 million a year.