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Mercedes-Benz to produce Amazon-branded Sprinter vans

Mercedes-Benz, the luxury brand of Daimler AG, said Sept. 5 that it will be manufacturing Inc.-branded Sprinter vans for the Seattle-based e-commerce firm's new Delivery Service Partner program.

In June, Amazon launched an initiative for entrepreneurs who want to establish their own logistics services delivering Amazon packages.

The program aims to ease startup costs for small-business owners by working with third-party fleet management companies to procure their customized vans and avail special leases.

Amazon will not own the vans but will instead distribute them to fleet management firms that will purchase the vehicles and lease them to small courier providers.

Amazon's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark said the company will increase its original order of Sprinter vans to 20,000 vehicles, which effectively makes Amazon the world's largest Sprinter customer.

The announcement coincided with the inauguration of the German automaker's Sprinter plant in North Charleston, S.C. following a two-year construction period. Mercedes-Benz said total investment on the new facility was approximately $500 million.

The South Carolina plant currently employs more than 900 personnel but that number is set to grow as the company plans to hire 1,300 staff by the end of 2020.