Mercedes-Benz hopes to appeal to families with the T-Class compact passenger van, including a battery-electric version. The van is being developed with the Renault-Nissan Alliance and will be launched in the first half of 2022.
The T-Class will be based on the Citan light-commercial van, which Renault builds alongside its Kangoo van in Maubeuge, France.
The current Kangoo/Citan has been on the market since 2012, and a new Kangoo is expected to be revealed in the coming months, with commercial sales starting early next year followed shortly by passenger versions.
The Kangoo and Citan will be built on the Renault-Nissan CMF C/D architecture, which is used on compact vehicles including the Renault Megane.
Renault showed a concept version of the new Kangoo in 2019, including a battery-electric option and possibly a plug-in hybrid option. Mercedes confirmed that the T-Class will have an electric version.
Mercedes has given passenger variants of light-commercial vehicles "class" designations in recent years. The V-Class is a version of the midsize Vito van, and the short-lived X Class was a Mercedes version of the Nissan Navara pickup.
Mercedes' parent company, Daimler, holds a 3.1 percent stake in the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance, and the companies have developed joint model and powertrain projects, although the pace of collaboration has slowed in recent years.
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Mercedes said in a news release that the T-Class will appeal to families and "active leisure enthusiasts," but it also expects customers from shuttle and vehicle-sharing services. "While the Mercedes-Benz Citan is a no-compromise vehicle tailored to the requirements of commercial customers, the Mercedes-Benz T-Class is primarily focused towards private customers," the automaker said in release.
Mercedes said the T-Class "will be clearly discernible at first glance as a member of the Mercedes-Benz family and will feature unmistakably typical characteristics of the brand." The automaker did not release other details except to note that it will have sliding doors on both the left and right passenger sides. A profile image showed similar lines to that of the Kangoo concept from 2019.
The T-Class will be based on the next-generation Renault Kangoo, shown above as a concept, which will be launched at the start of 2021.
Gaining on minivans
As traditional minivans continue to lose share to SUVs, automakers have added features to passenger versions of their smallest commercial vans, a which can be a cost-effective move because of vans' longer life cycles and lower development costs.
PSA Group at the end of 2018 launched new versions of its small vans aimed at private buyers, including the Peugeot Rifter (a version of the Partner), the Citroen Berlingo and the Opel Combo Life (a version of the Combo).
Both commercial and passenger versions of compact vans are classified as "car-derived vans," because they are built on passenger car platforms.
Other competitors in the compact car-derived van segment include the Volkswagen Caddy, the Kangoo and the Ford Torneo Connect. Figures from JATO Dynamics show the Caddy as the segment leader in Europe through the first half of 2020, with 21,386 sales, a 28 percent decline from 2019, although the drop can be attributed to the coronavirus crisis.
The Caddy was followed by the three PSA Group vans, with the Rifter recording 17,486 sales -- a 36 percent decline from 2019 -- the Berlingo at 15,192 sales and the Combo Life at 6,447 sales. There were 1,143 units of the current Citan passenger version sold in the first half, according to JATO.
The passenger van leaders are quickly catching up to the top-selling minivans, which showed much steeper sales losses in the first half, according to JATO data. The minivan segment leader, the VW Touran, recorded 22,244 sales in the first half, a 48 percent decline from 2019, and the second-place Renault Scenic recorded 17,121 sales in the first half, a 63 percent drop from last year.
Veramente esilarante l’annuncio di Mercedes per questa Kangoo rimarchiata. Ci sarà da ridere.