The DaimlerChrysler plant in Ladson, S.C., on Tuesday officially kicked off production of the Sprinter for the U.S. market under the Dodge and Freightliner brands. The plant was inaugurated in the presence of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. The $70-million plant has a capacity to assemble 32,000 units. The 460,000 sq. ft. plant will produce about 22,000 Sprinters this year. The Sprinter has been sold in the United States since 2001. The Ladson plant will be the final assembly point for the Sprinter cargo van and the final prep point for the passenger and chassis-cab vans. Sprinter vans for the United States and Canada are offered in three vehicle lengths, three roof heights and two new wheelbases. The lineup of cargo vans, passenger vans and chassis-cab models is powered by two all-new V-6 engines, a 3.0-liter diesel or 3.5-liter gas engine. DaimlerChrysler expects about 10 percent of total sales to be gas-engine. Standard equipment includes Adaptive ESP, which features additional sensors that now take into consideration vehicle payload to help further reduce the risk of vehicle skidding and loss of control. DaimlerChrysler also announced it would build and test up to 20 plug-in hybrid versions of the 2007 Dodge Sprinter. There is no timetable to launch the hybrid version to market. “Much more testing is needed before bringing the hybrid version to market,” Wilfried Porth, executive vice president of DaimlerChrysler AG, told Business Fleet Magazine at the event. Sprinter has 4.9 percent of the U.S. commercial van market in Classes 2 and 3. The all-new Sprinter goes on sale this spring. Close to 50 Freightliner dealers and 400 Dodge BusinessLink dealers will sell the new Sprinter.