Mercedes-Benz plans to end sales of the Metris van in the United States in the third quarter of 2023.
The company also plans to stop selling the 4-cylinder gas engine powering the van as it exits the midsize commercial van segment in the U.S., Automotive News reported.
Since its inception in 2015, Mercedes-Benz has sold 59,963 Metris vans though July 1, 2022. In comparison, General Motors sold 44,355 Chevrolet Express vans in 2021 versus 10,964 Metris vans.
But with sales of 6,974 vans in the first half of 2022, Mercedes-Benz Metris sales could reach a high point, even though they’re roughly one-third of Express sales in the same period.
Still, with its popularity growing, it may seem puzzling as to why the German automaker is throwing in the towel.
But its tweener size has proven to be a problem, being 12.3 inches longer than the compact Ford Transit Connect van, but 21.7 inches shorter than the prehistoric full-size Chevrolet Express. Yet the Express provides 283.6 cubic feet of cargo volume, compared to 183 cubic feet in the Metris. The Chevrolet also has a far greater payload capacity as well, 2,604 to 4,334 pounds depending on the engine, while the Metris manages only 1,984 to 2,270 pounds.
Part of the blame comes from the Metris’ turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Providing 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels, it’s built by Nissan in Decherd, Tennessee, and requires premium fuel. The Chevrolet Express uses regular unleaded, important when facing record high fuel costs.
Then there’s the issue of price. The Metris starts at $36,195; the Express with a 6.6-liter V-8 and 464 lb-ft of torque starts $270 higher, at $36,465. But buyers can save $1,500 over the Metris by opting for the 4.3-liter V-6 model at $34,695 and still get more space and a bigger payload capacity.
A long commercial truck history
Being a relatively recent entrant into the U.S. commercial vehicle market, Mercedes-Benz may not be the first name that springs to mind. Even so, the carmaker has been producing trucks in Germany since 1895, even if the L319, the company’s first van, didn’t make its appearance until 1955.
Mercedes-Benz has sold the full-size Sprinter van stateside since 2003. But the Sprinter proved to be too big for smaller firms, so Mercedes-Benz rebadged the European market Vito van for the America, giving it a new name without any Godfather associations. The new Metris debuted in 2015 in cargo and passenger van configurations.
The van was facelifted last year, receiving updated infotainment and driver-assistance systems. But it lacks all-wheel drive, as well as the sort of interior finishes and convenience features Americans expect of a Mercedes-Benz. Even the addition of the Metris Getaway camper has failed to appreciably increase sales.
Certainly, its low dealer margin hasn’t helped either.
Perhaps its most enthusiastic customer is the U.S. Postal Service. In 2020, it signed a multi-year contract for Mercedes-Benz to supply 30,000 vans, which the company will honor before production ends.