MADRID – Mercedes-Benz prepares to re-enter the European light-commercial-vehicle market with the Citan, the first LCV to emerge from the auto maker’s agreement with the- Alliance.
The Citan, a name derived from combining City and Titan, launches in September at the Hanover commercial-vehicles show. It will be produced at the Maubegue plant in Northern France, where theKangoo van is built.
Four models will comprise the Citan range: Citan at the low end; Vito, 2.8 to 3.2 tons; Sprinter, 3.0 to 5.0 tons; and Vario, 6.0 to 8.2 tons. Electric power steering will be standard, and the brand will offer both gasoline and diesel engines.
By taking advantage of greater production volume and common systems and components, Mercedes intends to field a competitive product that likely will have a slightly higher price than its rivals but not 20%-30% more, as was the case with the discontinued Vaneo.
Mercedes’s initial entry in the European LCV market launched production in 2002. Based on the auto maker’s A-Class, the Vaneo initially was conceived as a small MPV to compete against models such as the Citroen Picasso,Multipla, Almera Tino, Opel Zafira and Renault Scenic.
Three gasoline engines and two diesel powerplants were available, and a van version also was marketed.
But the Vaneo’s price and performance were not sufficiently competitive, and annual sales never reached Mercedes’s initial target of 50,000 units. Production ended in September 2005, and the brand was marketed until November 2006.
The Citan will fight for a share of a European LCV market that sees annual sales of 700,000 units. Players include the Renault Kangoo,Transit Connect, Doblo, Opel Combo, Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo, Nissan NV200 and Caddy.