Production of Mercedes Sprinter commercial vehicles is under way at Russian auto maker GAZ’s sprawling manufacturing complex in Nizhny Novgorod.
More than €190 million ($248 million) was invested by the two partners to build the previous-generation van, which will be sold in Russia as the Sprinter Classic. Mercedes rolled out a refreshed Sprinter earlier this year for Western markets, including the U.S.
“The launch of Sprinter Classic production is a significant step for the company in the rapidly developing Russian market,” Mercedes-Benz Vans Div. head Volker Mornhinweg says in a statement.
GAZ President and CEO Bo Andersson says the joint project will help upgrade manufacturing technology and better position the auto maker in the domestic commercial-vehicle sector.
“Given that GAZ and Mercedes vehicles are focused on different consumer audiences, both companies will get the opportunity to successfully develop in their segments,” Andersson says.
About 969,000 sq.-ft. (90,000 sq.-m) of plant space was renovated to accommodate Sprinter production. A new €50 million ($65 million) paint shop, supplied by Germany’s Eisenmann, was added with capacity to produce more than 10 bodies an hour and capability of applying 11 different paint colors.
The Sprinter Classic will be equipped with OM646 diesel engines manufactured in Russia and a manual gearbox. It also will come with antilock brakes, traction control and a driver’s airbag.
The vehicle will be sold in Russia through Mercedes dealerships beginning in September.