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Six Things About the Coming Mercedes-Benz Metris Vans

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/7/2014 Chris Clonts
Mercedes Benz DJ Booth© Provided by MotorTrend Mercedes Benz DJ Booth

Mercedes, perhaps an atypical exhibitor at the SEMA show, debuted four concept customizations of the Metris midsize van that will arrive in the U.S. in the fall of 2015. Though it will come as either a passenger or cargo van (after being disassembled, shipped here, and re-assembled thanks to the chicken tax), the company sees many custom applications.

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About that name - Bernie Glaser, vice president and managing director of Daimler Vans LLC, said they definitely saw the necessity of changing the name “Vito,” as the van is sold in Europe, for the U.S. market. “Metris has an association with metropolitan,” he said. They expect the van to sell well in metro markets. They sell about 26,000 Sprinters a year here. Glaser also said the name could evoke the “metric” system for some, but European Car editor-in-chief Mike Febbo quickly pointed out that “that really hasn’t caught on here yet. But we’re getting there, inch by inch.”

Fire Chief Concept: A Tribute To 9/11 Heroes - A spokesman for World Motorsports in Torrance, Calif., the company that developed the concept, noted that the badge/firefighter shield on the door is a subtle tribute to 9/11’s fallen firefighters, noting the number who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The fire concept has a few cool things to note: It has massive batteries to power a chief’s command center (which communicates with and controls all units deployed to a fire) and a system that stores breathing tanks and harnesses securely via clamps but keeps them easy to deploy upon arriving at a scene. The concept has much larger brakes than the standard van due to the extra weight. The van’s siren was one of the big hits of the display. Of a neighboring display within earshot, a spokesman said, “BMW really loved it.”

Mercedes Benz Metris Fire Chief Van© Provided by MotorTrend Mercedes Benz Metris Fire Chief Van

Luxury Concept: Things looking up inside - The two-seat luxury transportation concept is not that far off from similar vans that whisk executives around some European cities. Some execs, it seems, don’t want to stand out in the likes of an Audi A8 or BMW 7 Series. The vans let them remain anonymous in traffic while still enjoying luxury. Two cool items on the concept: The headliner is actually replaced in the passenger compartment with a sunroof-sized video screen. It can display blue skies (it’s always blue skies for the 1 percent, right?), fireworks (think Vegas), or anything else. No word on a mirror option…

Mercedes Benz Metris for 2014 SEMA Show© Provided by MotorTrend Mercedes Benz Metris for 2014 SEMA Show

DJ Concept: Printed in 3D - Though the Golf Concept is impressive with its wildly expandable storefront module that slides out the back, the DJ Concept may be the most on-point of the four. One side panel contains an enormous speaker array, and the DJ station rises out of the roof by more than three feet, creating a DJ stand with two video screens behind. Smoke effects and lasers are also part of the package. The flares on the wheel wells and elsewhere were printed by a Stratasys 3D Printer. Hartmut Feyhl, founder of Renntech, said the company owns its own printer, but it would have taken three months to print all the parts. Stratasys’ own printer did the job in a matter of days. The DJ conept has 12 giant Optima gel batteries that can power a performance for more than four hours without the engine running.

Mercedes Benz Metris DJ Booth for 2014 SEMA Show© Provided by MotorTrend Mercedes Benz Metris DJ Booth for 2014 SEMA Show

"It’s Its Own Segment" - A message that Mercedes officials clearly want to send: Metris is in its own segment, larger than a Transit Connect but smaller than Sprinter, Ram Promaster or full-size Transits. They want to take advantage of the increasing popularity of these Euro-style vans.

The Full M-B Tech Treatment - Glaser said that while powertrains for the U.S. are not decided yet (he polled media members, who almost unanimously voted for a diesel -- surprise), he said the Metris would have a full array of Mercedes safety and driver-assistance tech available, like lane-keep assistance and the automaker's new Crosswind Assist.

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