Report: Mercedes-Benz to Build Sprinters in U.S.
Plan Would Allow Avoidance of “Chicken Tax” Without Knockdown Kits
The saying “loose lips sink ships” is often bandied about when unauthorized information is released prematurely. In this case, a South Carolina politician may have inadvertently jumped the gun on Mercedes-Benz’s announcement of full manufacturing of the Sprinter fullsize van in the state. Reuters reports that South Carolina state representative Chip Limehouse said that the German automaker will announce plans later this week to do full assembly of Sprinters in Ladson, South Carolina, northwest of the port city of Charleston.
Mercedes-Benz currently does partial assembly of Sprinters in South Carolina from kits shipped from Germany, in a byzantine avoidance of the stiff 25 percent “chicken tax” tariff that still applies to European light trucks. The plan would reportedly add another 1,200 jobs to the area and have Mercedes-Benz source a significantly greater percentage of the Sprinter’s content from U.S. sources, possibly helping it to become a certified “domestic” vehicle by government standards.
The Sprinter has seen sales increase 17.4 percent year to date, and the recently introduced Ford Transit is already out-selling the outgoing E-Series vans. The Sprinter sold 1,675 units in February, compared to 6,750 Transits, 1,627 Ram ProMasters and 1,188 Nissan NV fullsize vans sold during the same period.