In 2012, Mercedes-Benz Vans launched the new Citan city van, which ideally supplements our existing product range. The sovereign-debt crisis in Western Europe led to market contractions that affected our business. EBIT of €541 million was lower than the high level recorded in the prior year. Our top-selling Sprinter van continued to be very successful in North and Latin America. Because our standards are high, we have further intensified initiatives aimed at boosting the efficiency of the division and increasing its international scope.
|Amounts in millions of euros||% change|
|Return on sales (in %)||6.0||9.1||.|
Investment in property,
plant, and equipment
|Research and development expenditure||371||358||+4|
|Employees (December 31)||14,916||14,889||+0|
|Unit sales Mercedes-Benz Vans|
|Latin America (excluding Mexico)||13,954||13,659||+2|
Unit sales and earnings impacted by crisis in Europe. Mercedes-Benz Vans’ global sales of Sprinter, Vario, Vito, Viano, and Citan vehicles decreased to 252,400 units last year (2011: 264,200). This development was due in particular to the difficult market situation
in Western Europe. Revenue was also slightly lower than in the prior year at €9.1 billion (2011: €9.2 billion). EBIT decreased from €835 million to €541 million, primarily due to lower unit sales in Western Europe. Expenses were incurred for the market launch of new products. Furthermore, there were expenses of €64 million in connection with the impairment of the Chinese joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation. (See table 4.05)
Initiatives for boosting efficiency and making the division more international. At Mercedes-Benz Vans, we launched the “Performance Vans 2013” short-term program to further intensify previous initiatives aimed at continuously boosting efficiency. The new program
was conceived to counteract unfavorable market developments in Western Europe and help us deal with intensified competition in key markets. With this program, we intend to realize efficiency improvements in the magnitude of €100 million. At the same time, we are retaining the key pillars for achieving further profitable growth. The elements of those pillars include measures to increase the international scope of the division and to expand its product range. We refer to this strategy as “Vans goes global.”
The Sprinter remains successful in North and Latin America. Due to Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and a challenging market environment, Mercedes-Benz Vans saw its unit sales decline by 8% in Western Europe to 164,900 vehicles. (See table 4.06) The Western European volume markets in particular were unable to match their high levels of 2011. Because of market developments, our unit sales were especially low in Germany and France compared with the prior year. By contrast, sales developed very well in Eastern Europe, where Mercedes-Benz Vans once again saw unit sales grow rapidly (+6%) in 2012 following excellent results in the prior year. Due to the market success of the Sprinter in the United States and Canada, sales once again rose substantially in the NAFTA region to 26,400 units, representing an increase of 18% over the prior year. The high level of customer acceptance is also reflected in our increasing market share. In Latin America, we sold 14,000 vehicles (+2%). After the introduction of the current generation of the European Sprinter in the spring of 2012, unit sales rose in Latin America, particularly during the second half of the year. However, sales in China declined to 8,800 units (-35%), due to the contraction of those segments of the market in which we are active. We sold 159,000 Sprinters worldwide in 2012 (-3%). Sales of the Vito and Viano models decreased after record unit sales in 2011 by 15% to 83,700 units, and we sold 2,700 Vario vans (2011: 2,900). The new Citan city van, which was launched in September, accounted for sales of 7,100 units. Despite the difficult market environment, Mercedes-Benz Vans retained its market position for medium-sized and large vans in the European Union and defended its market share of 18%.
Full-line supplier with the new Mercedes-Benz Citan. In 2012, Mercedes-Benz Vans launched a new vehicle that made the division a full-line supplier of vans. The Mercedes-Benz Citan city van marks our entry into the rapidly growing small-van segment. By taking this step, we
plan to strengthen our leading position in the European market. The Citan is the first vehicle to be created as a result of the strategic partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan, and made its debut at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover in September 2012. The Citan is designed for commercial customers and is offered in panel van and crewbus variants, as well as in a “Mixto” version with two rows of seats and a small cargo area. The city van is available in three lengths based on two different wheelbases and two different gross vehicle weights. The Citan is one of the most fuel-efficient vans of its class in both the gasoline and the diesel-powered variants. The Citan BlueEFFICIENCY has fuel consumption of 4.3 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of 112 g/km. No conventionally powered city van consumes less fuel or produces lower emissions. At the same time, the Citan ensures optimal driving comfort and high performance while keeping operating costs low.
“Vans goes global” in Latin America, Russia, China and North America. The worldwide success of the Sprinter is one of the key elements of our “Vans goes global” growth strategy. The Sprinter, which is the designation for an entire class of vehicles, is a best-selling export model
and a truly global van. The Sprinter impresses customers worldwide and is now being produced in several key growth regions. Since the beginning of 2012, we have been manufacturing the current Mercedes-Benz Sprinter generation at our plant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where it is primarily produced as a bus variant. The upgraded product range will enable Mercedes-Benz Vans to benefit from the anticipated sharp increase in demand for passenger transport systems in Latin America. The success of the new-generation Sprinter has already been demonstrated by the van’s steadily increasing sales figures in the second half of 2012. We plan to invest more than €80 million in the production of new van models at the Buenos Aires plant over the next few years. In the process, we will create 700 new jobs there. We have also taken an important step forward in Russia, where we have formed a partnership for the production of Mercedes-Benz vans. We are currently implementing this project in cooperation with the Russian commercial vehicle manufacturer GAZ. The project’s aim is to pave the way for the production of the proven Sprinter Classic, engines and other components at the GAZ facility in Nizhny Novgorod. Production is scheduled to begin during the first half of 2013. The vehicles will be sold and serviced by the existing Mercedes-Benz dealership network, which will be greatly expanded. At present, the Russian van market is growing faster than any other van market in Europe. In China, Mercedes-Benz Vans is the only manufacturer to date that produces vans locally. We have been producing the Vito and Viano in China since 2010, and our joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation also began manufacturing a bus version of the Sprinter in 2011. With its Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz Vans is also performing very successfully in North America. Unit sales of the Sprinter increased at a double-digit rate, thanks to an outstanding retail network and the use of a consistent two-brand strategy (Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner) in the United States.
Two electric vans celebrate world premieres. One of the key elements of Mercedes-Benz Vans’ strategy is its goal of technological leadership in the sector. This leadership will be maintained by developing environmentally compatible technologies that provide customers
with real utility. In this connection, we celebrated two world premieres during the year under review. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 2012, we presented the Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL crewbus. This crewbus is the world’s first locally emission-free series-produced seven-seat vehicle. Another van, the Sprinter E-CELL concept, made its public debut at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show. This vehicle greatly expands the possibilities of locally emission-free transportation.