Chicago Motor Show - Mercedes-Benz calls this ‘the ultimate toolbox’, with some justification. And we’re not just talking about the eye-catching handle on the roof - or the clever toolbox latches, special wheels and stylish blue plastic trim on the body of this one-off Vito show van.
Open up the side and you’ll find a variety of shelves, drawers, tool-racks and removable cases, a tough tile floor (removable for proper cleaning) and a clear plastic partition to keep loose stuff in the workspace safely away from the driver while still allowing him to see what’s going on back there.
It’s a rolling showcase for what Mercedes-Benz North America’s MasterSolutions program offers Sprinter and Vito customers in the United States. The idea has been borrowed from the configurator program used by most luxury carmakers to enable their customers to choose from a variety of options, and works almost exactly the same.
Here’s how it works
What you do is either to visit a Mercedes-Benz truck dealership or design your van online. You tell the company what you want to use the van for, and Mercedes-Benz will offer you a choice of Sprinter or Vito (known as the Metris in North America) models that’ll fit the bill.
All MasterSolutions vans come in plain white, so you can lay on your choice of signage or logos, with silver-painted steel rims, 180-degree rear doors and a metal cargo floor - which can be customised with an optional factory wood floor, plastic tiles or rubber matting during fit-out.
Once you’ve chosen your van, you’ll be able to select from a catalog of fittings, including special partitions, ladder racks, customised shelving, catalogued bin systems, custom tool trays, refrigeration units and even commercial shuttle seating - and mix and match them to suit your needs on the road.
The computer program will show you what will fit in a given space and what won’t, so there won’t be any nasty surprises later, and when you’re done it’ll give you an ‘out the door’ quote.
After you’ve confirmed your order, the basic van is despatched from the Mercedes-Benz Vans plant in South Carolina to one of three specialist ‘upfitters’ to have your custom-designed interior installed, and then sent either to your fleet headquarters or to your local Mercedes-Benz dealership.