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by Matt Campbell

The next-generation Mercedes-Benz Citan cannot come soon enough for the company’s Australian dealer network, who continue to ask for a competitor to its pesky German rival, the Volkswagen Caddy.

The Mercedes-Benz Citan – a Renault-Mercedes alliance product that is essentially a reworked take on the Renault Kangoo – has never been sold in Australia, primarily because it lacks a suitable drivetrain for the local market.

But it is clear the company’s local Vans arm is looking forward to seeing the next-generation version. Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia-Pacific managing director Diane Tarr said the company is readying for the new-generation model, though it’s currently unclear when that make it here.

“We are certainly not taking our eye off the opportunity for the next-generation Citan, and what that can present for us,” Tarr said.

“We know we’ve still got a lot of interest from our dealer network. We’re still looking at the business case. It’s not off the table from a business case perspective for the next-generation,” she said.

Tarr explained that the company’s involvement in the pre-production development and research of the new X-Class ute should see the local branch get to have more of a say in what it wants, potentially curtailing any such issues as has been seen with the current model – that should mean, theoretically, a pair of small output turbo petrol and diesel engines with conventional automatic transmissions. The existing Citan hasn’t had that on offer.

“The X-Class has presented a greater opportunity for us to have a voice. And with X-Class coming into our market and of course increasing our volume position, we definitely see a greater voice to the business.

“However, when we look at the current business plan, we are split into Europe and overseas. We are a strong contender in the overseas market, and we have a very strong and good relationship with our colleagues and headquarters. They certainly respect us as a market, and we deliver what we say we will deliver in terms of our numbers, our targets, our responsibilities,” she said.

“The headquarter colleagues have a strong mantra around ‘Vans Goes Global’, and that means them not being so Euro-centric. So to answer your question, we certainly feed back information, and with the new Sprinter we have a lot of dialogue around what we require as a market, and the differences in the market, and they certainly take that on board.”

As for further expansion of the company’s other model lines, there’s not too much room to fill, according to Tarr.

“We’re pretty strong in offering a variety of options for our customers and different solutions. I think we’re pretty comprehensive in what we offer our customers and future customers in the large and medium segments.”

Indeed, the mid-sized van line-up is strong, with the conventional Vito and Vito Crew Van models, the people-mover range (V-Class and Valente), and the recently added Marco Polo campervan. And then there’s the larger Sprinter range, which includes the standard and extensive van lines, the Sprinter cab-chassis, and the 12-seat Sprinter Transfer bus.

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