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MiniPlus Article
January 07 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

New Sprinter is gaining passenger momentum

Production of passenger-carrying Mercedes-Benz Sprinters is moving to the new model in a staged way. Daimler Buses recently gave a taster of what its extensive small PCV line-up will look like in due course

Daimler Buses will soon offer a wide variety of new Sprinter-based PCVs

Development of minicoaches and minibuses based on the latest-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter base vehicle continues apace, with some of the first such examples having been displayed at Euro Bus Expo.

But there is still lots to come, with some manufacturers continuing their development of new models into right-hand drive format and others awaiting the release of extra-long wheelbase stock.

As a dealership that is wholly-owned by Daimler Buses, EvoBus (UK) has much vested in the new Sprinter.

Daimler recently gave an opportunity to get an idea of what its own Sprinter-based range will deliver; it displayed both Mobility and Transfer examples, while information was shared about the ground-breaking City 75 low-floor minibus.

EvoBus (UK) plans to bring the City 75 to the UK in the medium term. Through inclusion of a new 5,000kg rear axle, the model’s GVW has been uprated to 6,800kg; the axle is a development that is exclusive to Daimler Buses and it says that it will not be made available to third parties.

That GVW allows a theoretical capacity of 38 passengers, although in UK form it is likely that seating will be prioritised over standees. An emergency exit may also be required; as shown so far in left-hand drive format, the City 75 has two doors.

The vehicles

Roll-out of the Mobility and Transfer ranges in left-hand drive commenced in 2018, and Daimler says that the remainder of its extensive Sprinter minicoach and minibus range will follow this year, including the higher-specification Travel minicoach. Release dates of all are aligned with availability of the base vehicle.

The Transfer is described as being a versatile all-rounder. It is available in lengths from 5.9m to 7.7m and it comes with room for between 12 and 22 passengers; the largest version has a rear extension, a coach-style rear and a 5,500kg GVW.

Transfer 35 interior demonstrates the appeal of this mid-range model

Daimler Buses has thus far focused on the Transfer 35 at the start of the changeover to the new Sprinter. As displayed in Mannheim recently, the 7.0m minicoach is based on an original high-roof Sprinter van and it can accommodate up to 19 passengers.

The more compact Transfer 23 is 5.9m long and it has a GVW of 3,500kg. It will, says Daimler, will be available solely in right-hand drive and it will carry a maximum of 13 passengers.

The accessible Sprinter Mobility range will be made up of two models: The Mobility 23 and the Mobility 45. The Mobility 23 has the same dimensions as the Transfer 23 and it can carry eight seated passengers or a maximum of four wheelchair users.

The longer Mobility 45 will have a GVW of 5,000kg and it will accommodate up to 19 seated passengers or eight wheelchair users. In both models, seating is tracked, and a lightweight wheelchair lift is fitted at the rear with a capacity of 350kg.

Into the City

Daimler Buses was unable to make the City 75 available to drive as promised, but many UK operators will already have seen it in left-hand drive form at Euro Bus Expo. EvoBus (UK) has carried out an exercise with potential buyers to refine the internal specification to best suit the needs of operators here.

The City 75 has air suspension at the rear, but not at the front. As a result, it cannot kneel – but Daimler says that is not a problem, because at 27cm the entrance is low enough as it is.

Daimler adds that the City 75 is particularly well-suited for routes serving narrow streets. It maintains the Sprinter van’s width, although at 8.5m long and with a 5.1m wheelbase, it will require more care when turning than with standard-length models.

Sprinter City 75 is a 6,800kg GVW low-floor mini; it carries 38 passengers

As far as the B-pillar, the standard Sprinter chassis cowl is retained on the City 75. Beyond that is a coachbuilt body with a low-floor area. Various safety aspects are standard and others are available as options.

Connectivity king

Connectivity is key to the new Sprinter, and Daimler Buses has already disclosed that the model will be available with some smart technology that is ideally suited to the constantly-evolving landscape of demand responsive transport.

Centrepiece of the dash is the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) console. It has a large central display with a choice of two screen sizes; while it will likely not be of interest to operators seeking to use the new Sprinter on stage carriage work, it may well be of relevance to minicoach applications thanks to its inbuilt satellite navigation function.

Further details of the EvoBus (UK) offering on the new Sprinter will no doubt follow throughout 2019. But for now, the new base vehicle look a highly-competent successor to what was the established leader in its category.

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