Mercedes-Benz Vans History

Vans History

120 years - Mercedes-Benz History

Mercedes-Benz has been manufacturing high quality commercial vehicles for 120 years. Continually innovating, the company embraces technology and invests in people with the aim of being the world's leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles. Here are just a few of the many landmarks already reached on this successful journey.

1896 An impressive start

The history of motorised transport

In 1896, two pioneers raised the curtain on an important chapter in the history of motorised transport.

The world’s first motorised truck was produced by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and delivered to a customer in London in 1896. This vehicle made its mark with a 1500kg payload capacity and two-cylinder Phoenix engine that delivered a top speed of 7mph. Whether this vehicle was a truck or van is debatable, as by today’s standard this payload capacity would be considered that of a van’s.

In that same year, Karl Benz also developed a van-type delivery vehicle on the chassis of a Benz motorised carriage for supply to a Paris department store.

1926 Mercedes-Benz is born

A new automotive partnership

The two great automotive manufacturers and rivals - Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie Rheinische Automobil und Motorenfabrik - joined forces in 1926 to form Daimler-Benz AG. After the merger a new brand name, Mercedes-Benz was adopted for both the company's cars and commercial vehicles.

1946 A roaring success - the 170V

Pre and Post war - Mercedes-Benz proved its worth

Making its first public appearance at the Berlin Motor Show in 1936, the Mercedes-Benz 170V became the company’s best-selling pre-war passenger vehicle. Post-war, it proved its worth once again in 1946, being the first urban delivery vehicle offered as a pickup, panel van and ambulance.

1951 The shape of things to come - 170D delivery van

The Mercedes-Benz delivery vehicle

Things moved up a gear by the early 1950s with the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz 170D delivery van and its payload of 465kg. Produced in 1951, the driving force behind it was a four cylinder diesel engine delivering 40 hp.

1954 - First to the line - the "Blue Wonder"

The "Blue Wonder" - indispensable to F1 success.

The Mercedes-Benz F1 team is at the top of its game in 1954/55 and this racing car transporter was indispensable to its success. A top speed of 170km/h ensured it could move the Silver Arrow racing cars to the track in quick time – allowing engineers to work on the cars up to the last minute.

1994 A breath of fresh air - the NECAR

Especially environmentally kind

One of the first fuel cell vehicles produced, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the NECAR, the Mercedes-Benz MB 100 van model in April 1994. As you would expect for such a vehicle, it was especially environmentally kind with the only emissions being non-combusted air and steam.

1995 A new generation - the Sprinter

The van that established and entire sector – The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

The arrival of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in 1995 marks a defining moment in the history of Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles. Available in Traveliner, panel van and pick-up versions it met the needs of customers like never before, coming complete with cutting-edge technology such as ABS anti-lock braking as standard.

1996 The Vario large-capacity van - truly one of a kind.

With internally ventilated disk brakes all round - The Mercedes-Benz Vario.

As it is, the Vario was improved upon several times during its career. The Vario defined its sphere of operation as the broad field between 4.8 to 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle. All Vario models now have a six-speed manual transmission as standard and can be optionally equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission with torque converter.

1996 Compact but perfectly formed - the Vito

With a payload of one tonne - The Mercedes-Benz Vito.

New momentum continued with the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz Vito van in 1996.
The Spanish-built van which had a payload of one tonne set the standards very high in the compact van class, with top class comfort, ergonomics and performance.

2004 Improving on perfection - the Vito relaunched!

New Performance, design and comfort - Meet the new Mercedes-Benz Vito.

Moving with the times, the new Vito took the original concept and set the bar even higher. Design, performance and comfort all took a front seat and it became the first van range to adopt Adaptive ESP® as standard for a smoother ride in all conditions.

2013 Van about town - the Citan

Light work of an urban environment - The Mercedes-Benz Citan.

Unmistakeably Mercedes-Benz, the Citan is designed to make light work of the urban environment. Taking innovation to new heights, it adopts safety technology from the Mercedes-Benz Passenger Car sector, including Adaptive ESP, EBV electronic brake force distribution and ABS anti-lock braking.

2013 The Sprinter – redefined

Setting standards with the world premiere of five new safety systems.

The Sprinter has always driven innovation in its segment – and it raised the bar again in 2013, setting a new benchmark for efficiency, safety and dynamics. The updated model boasted five new safety systems – Crosswind Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, High Beam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist – engines that met the EURO VI emissions standard, and a striking new appearance. Most importantly, however, the van's excellent low fuel consumption of 43mpg in UK specification made it the most efficient vehicle in its segment.

2014 A new era - a new Vito

Moving with the times - The New Mercedes-Benz Vito

The latest Vito continues a long distinguished line of business-minded commercial vehicles. Offering versatility, safety and economic efficiency, it is a van that naturally stands out from the crowd and one that says Mercedes-Benz Vans continue to move with the times. The new Vito is offers tyre pressure monitoring, seven- speed automatic gear box and Active Park Assist.

2018 The new Sprinter

The most intelligent, powerfully connected van the world has ever seen

With a truly impressive and advanced standard specification, the latest Sprinter pushes the boundaries of what’s possible from a large van – again. It’s safer than ever. More versatile than ever. More connected than ever. The Sprinter is the first van with its own inbuilt, complete vehicle support tool. More than just a telematics solution, this complete vehicle support tool powerfully and intelligently connects businesses and vehicles, to drive efficiency, maximise uptime and improve accountability.

Innovation over the years

Mercedes-Benz and innovation - Embracing new technology at every opportunity

Mercedes-Benz and innovation have gone hand in hand since its earliest days. Embracing new technology at every opportunity, the company has led the way in automotive design. From its earliest engines to an ever-evolving range of cutting edge vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with innovation.

adVANce to the future – the Vision Van

Delivering to tomorrow’s customers

From the rise of same hour delivery to the Internet of Things, the world is changing fast. adVANce is a new strategic future initiative for the transport industry, committed to tackling the needs of future customers by harnessing the technology of tomorrow. Emissions-free, drone-compatible and with an automated loading bay, the Mercedes-Benz Vision Van is the van of the future.


  1. Revolutionary functionality
  2. A futureproof concept
Revolutionary functionality

Holistic design for superior performance

By taking a holistic approach to van design, Mercedes-Benz has revolutionised delivery management. The van loading bay is fully autonomous, arranging and unloading cargo with an on-board package dispenser. The driver information terminal provides crucial real-time delivery updates and the cabin is free of steering wheel and pedals, allowing for unhindered entry and exit during delivery stops.

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A futureproof concept

Harnessing cutting edge technology

Two autonomous drones dock to the Vision Van’s roof, able to deliver multiple packages to nearby recipients even when they aren’t at home, boosting efficiency by up to 50% over the last mile of delivery. A silent, zero-emissions electric motor prepares the van for the imminent pedestrianisation of major global cities and green taxes on carbon emissions.

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2000 Driver Airbags

Driver airbags were standard on Mercedes-Benz in 2000.

2006 Adaptive ESP®

This system takes into account the load; stabilising the vehicle as needed by applying braking pressure to each wheel and regulating engine output.

2013 Euro VI

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter became the world's first van to meet the future Euro VI emissions standard when it launched.

2013 Crosswind Assist

This system supports the driver in strong, gusty side winds, through automatic brake interventions to help the vehicle stay in lane.

2014 Rescue Assist Stickers

Mercedes-Benz was first to equip Rescue Assist QR codes. Scanning it opens a rescue card, showing locations of vital components enabling fast, safe rescue.


In scenarios that could lead to an accident, this system protects occupants by tensioning seat belts, closing windows and moving the front passenger seat.

2014 Attention Assist

Over 70 variables are measured in this system. If it detects drowsiness, the driver is warned acoustically and on the instrument cluster to take a break.

2014 Active Parking Assist

A first for vans, this system detects suitable parallel and end-on parking spaces at speeds of up to 19 mph and performs the necessary steering manoeuvres.