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The Sprinter commercial van has three wheelbase options.

The Dodge Ram Cargo Van was phased out of production in mid-2003.

2003 Dodge Sprinter Preview
Big and tall, it's got it all

By Bill Roebuck

Update: Nov. 28, 2005 -- DaimlerChrysler AG plans to revamp an existing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, to assemble its Sprinter vans in the United States. Currently, the vans are imported in pieces and assembled in Gaffney, S.C., in a plant that is running at full capacity.

Update: Oct. 20, 2003 -- The Sprinter van has been officially released for sale in Canada as a Dodge product.

Oct. 11, 2002 -- Early in 2002, DaimlerChrysler had revealed that it would begin distribution of the German-made Sprinter commercial van in Canada through its Mercedes-Benz dealerships, but so far, none have shown up in this country. However, the new Class 2 and 3 light commercial vehicle is being marketed currently under the Freightliner brand in the USA. Canada will likely see the model by mid-2003, as the current Dodge Ram cargo van is due to go out of production at the Pillette Road van plant in Windsor, Ont., next summer.

The Sprinter cargo van is manufactured in Dusseldorf, Germany, and the components are shipped overseas with final assembly being done by Freightliner in its Gaffney, S.C., plant.

The Sprinter, as the Dodge cargo van's replacement, possibly will be built at a new DaimlerChrysler truck factory in Michigan that was announced in October 2002. It's unclear at this time (Oct. 9, 2002)  what the nameplate on the U.S. made Sprinter will be -- Freightliner or Dodge or Mercedes (as it is in Europe), but it has been determined it will be a Dodge product in Canada when it arrives.

The Sprinter will be offered in both passenger and cargo configurations. It offers a large load capacity and a powerful, economical engine, a Mercedes-Benz five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. It produces 154 hp and 243-lb ft of torque, and performs like a gasoline-engine, but with better fuel economy and longer life. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard.

Three wheelbase models are available in the cargo version, 118 in., 140 in. and 158 in. Two roof heights are offered as well for the cargo area, 64 in. and 73 in. The resulting cargo area ranges from 247 cu ft to 473 cu ft. GVWR is between 8,550 lb and 9,990 lb.

A Trades Sprinter version with special shelving and fittings will be available. The European model of the vehicle has been specially crash tested with 380 kg of fittings installed, and at an impact speed of 33 km/h, the interior shelving stayed firmly in place, meaning the driver would not be at risk from shifting components.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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