Spec check: Think total cost of ownership

Aug. 2, 2016
When looking to purchase a light duty vehicle, gain a sound understanding of the long-term costs associated with owning and operating it.

It’s no secret there are a number of factors that guide fleets in their purchase of light duty commercial vehicles. But just how they go about evaluating those factors can make or break them when it comes to their ability to get a significant return on the capital they invest in the vehicle over its entire operating period.

A sound understanding of a vehicle’s true cost of ownership is critical to lowering the direct and indirect costs that are associated with owning and operating it and, according to Mercedes-Benz Vans USA’s Mathias Geisen, many customers are looking beyond the sticker price.

“Our customers are very interested in the total cost of ownership of a product, says Geisen, the company’s general manager, product management and marketing (www.mbvans.com). “The less they pay for the van, the more they have in their pocket later on.”

Lowering total cost of ownership is front-of-mind for Mercedes-Benz when they are developing their Sprinter and Metris van lineup, says Geisen. Well-informed Mercedes-Benz customers are taking long looks at a vehicle’s powertrain and specs, design features and other components and systems that help reduce reduce maintenance. Furthermore, these customers also require vehicles that do not compromise when it comes to quality, reliability, safety and comfort.

“It’s really important for us to focus on efficiency,” says Geisen.

Entry model

So what does that mean for Mercedes-Benz customers? The entry model for the company’s line of full-sized Sprinter vans has a high-efficiency, four-cylinder diesel engine with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Geisen says customers can expect service intervals of up to 20,000 miles.

Meanwhile, the entry model for the Mercedes-Benz line of Metris mid-sized vans feature a gasoline engine with optional ECO start/stop technology and a seven-speed automatic transmission. For those vehicles, Geisen says, customers can expect service intervals of up to 15,000 miles.

“It’s not all about cost efficiency, economics and rugged durability, though,” says Geisen. “Our company is known for the great safety level we can offer.”

Safety features

In order to maximize total cost of ownership, fleets need to maximize uptime by keeping their vehicles on the road, productive and out of the shop. While routine maintenance and service cannot be avoided, unscheduled downtime and costly repairs can be reduced thanks to cutting-edge safety features and technology.

For example, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Metris vans feature the company’s Crosswind Assist safety feature. This technology is designed to monitor the vehicle’s suspension, brakes and stability systems, and it detects strong side winds and makes braking adjustments to help the operator maintain his or her course in both straight-line travel and gentle curves.

Mercedes-Benz vans also boast the Lake Keeping Assist feature, which utilizes a multifunction camera in the windshield to help recognize when the driver unintentionally drifts out of his or her lane. Lane Assist also transmits a warning signal to the vehicle’s operator when a lane departure occurs.

While acquiring of light duty commercial vehicles, improvements in engine technology, safety features and the design can make a significant impact on the resources fleets need to invest in them over the course of their operating periods. Those fleets that look beyond sticker price and make reasoned purchasing decisions based on key contributing factors stand to gain the most. 

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