Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
top story

SC Mercedes plant's Metris van is exiting US market after being out-Sprinted

Metris Weekender (copy) (copy)

Mercedes-Benz Vans tried pitching its Metris model to U.S. buyers as a pop-up camper, using Edisto Beach (above) as the backdrop as part of a marketing promotion. The mid-sized vehicle will be discontinued in 2023. File/Mercedes-Benz Vans/Provided

The end of the road is in sight for the Metris. 

The Mercedes-Benz plant in North Charleston will stop assembling the van in late 2023 when the German manufacturer discontinues U.S. production of a mid-sized vehicle that's never caught on with buyers in North America.

But the site won't lose any workers because an electrified version of the factory's marquee nameplate — the Sprinter — is expected to fill the labor void, the company said.

"The decision to conclude order intake of the Metris for the U.S. market ... will have no impact on our team members," a Mercedes-Benz Vans spokeswoman said. "This is due to the incoming next generation of the eSprinter which, along with the diesel engine Sprinter, will be produced in our plant. We look forward to embarking on our electrified journey in the near future."

ext mecedes benz vans.jpg (copy)

Mercedes-Benz Vans officially opened its $500 million campus in North Charleston in September 2018. File/Staff

The company's plant in Palmetto Commerce Park is a major manufacturing employer for the region, with more than 1,600 workers, according to its website.

The eSprinter is expected to roll off the local production line next summer, giving buyers an electric option for the popular four-wheel commercial carrier that's used by Amazon and others. The next-generation version is already available in Europe.

Stuttgart-based Mercedes-Benz Vans said the Metris is a victim of slow sales, with production expected to wind down in the third quarter of 2023.

A spokeswoman said the company doesn't release sales figures for specific models. A report by Automotive News said 60,000 Metris vans have been sold to U.S. customers since it was introduced in 2015.

The South Carolina plant has cranked out more than 260,000 vehicles in roughly that same time period, indicating the Sprinter has outsold its smaller sibling by more than 3-to-1.

About half of the Metris sales have been to the U.S. Postal Service, which put in a multiyear order in 2020. Mercedes-Benz said it will fulfill that contract before production is shut down for good, according to a report by

Mercedes-Benz also tried to market the Metris as a recreational vehicle, partnering with upfitters to convert the vehicle into pop-up campers.

"The Metris' failure came down to its awkward, in-between size," according to "This is a country that prefers either big vans or small vans but not something that's neither, like the Metris.", an automotive website, agreed in an Aug. 11 report, saying the Metris "just couldn’t crawl out of the shadow of the popular ... Sprinter, nor that of its rivals from other carmakers like the Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit Connect. Mercedes-Benz dealers claim that the van’s size failed to make it a fit for commercial fleets. It was too small to be as useful as the bigger Sprinter, and too big to be considered practical like the smaller Ford Transit."

While the North Charleston plant builds Sprinters from the wheels up, it reassembles Metris vehicles that are shipped in containers to South Carolina as partially built "kits" from Europe.

The Sprinters being sold to North America buyers were once built using that model in North Charleston to avoid steep import taxes. In 2015, Mercedes-Benz announced it would spend $500 million to expand the plant into a full-blown production site. The Metris joined the assembly line that same year.

Another $60 million has been invested to get the factory between Ashley Phosphate and Ladson roads ready to produce the battery-powered version of the Sprinter for the U.S., its No. 2 market after Germany.

Our twice-weekly newsletter features all the business stories shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

Similar Stories