AUBURN HILL, MI - The facility at Ladson, just a few miles north of Charleston, on the site of a subsidiary belonging to DaimlerChrysler’s Freightliner LLC, will assemble the next-generation Dodge Sprinter van which will replace the current Dodge Sprinter model in early 2007. Since 2001 the Sprinter has been on sale in the USA under the Freightliner and Dodge brands. The all-new Dodge Sprinter brings new standards of refinement, space, and performance previously not offered in the light-duty van market. The van has become even more flexible with body and engine variants meeting all requirements and adds the safety feature of the new adaptive Electronic Stability Program (ESP), being able to measure the weight of the vehicle’s load, calculate the center of gravity and adapt its responses correspondingly. DaimlerChrysler will invest $35 million to convert the plant to van production for North American markets. Initially, 220 employees will be engaged in the production process when the plant produces its first van end of Q4 2006. Per October 2005, 22,800 Dodge and Freightliner Sprinters were sold in the NAFTA region (full year 2004: 19,800 units). The location of the Ladson facility also reduces in-process time since the kits, from which the vehicles are built, land directly at the Port of Charleston after shipping from Europe. The 460,000-sq-ft. assembly plant at Ladson is the headquarters and main assembly operation for the American La France fire and emergency vehicle manufacturer – a business unit of Freightliner LLC. The American La France unit will be divested as part of a corporate realignment, and the plant dedicated to the assembly of the new van. A logistics study, conducted by DaimlerChrysler’s Commercial Vehicles Division, found Ladson to have a clear strategic manufacturing advantage.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet