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Why Mercedes Is Selling the Metris Weekender in America Instead of Its European Cousin

Either way, we're thrilled Mercedes now offers a factory-backed camper van.

Greg FinkWriter

Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to selling camper vans. Well, at least in Europe. Take a gander at the Marco Polo line of camper vans the company markets to consumers across the pond to see for yourself. (We also recently wrote up a new version. ) Despite the availability of such models in other markets, the three-pointed star refrained from selling such a vehicle in the United States. Until now, that is. With the arrival of the Metris Weekender, Mercedes-Benz finally offers American customers a factory-backed camper van conversion. It's a notably different camper van from its Marco Polo kin, however.

Blame factors such as Mercedes's decision not to sell the Metris's more luxurious cousin, the V-Class, which serves as the basis of the Marco Polo, in the states, as well as the company's need to assemble the Metris in South Carolina. In order to avoid complicating the order structure of the Metris cargo and passenger vans by importing pieces from the V-Class or Marco Polo, Mercedes enlists Driverge Vehicle Innovations (DVI) to build the Weekender with the help of recreational vehicle upfitter Peace Vans.

Harley Sitner, president of Peace Vans, explained to MotorTrend how the basic operation works: After Mercedes assembles the Metris at its North Charleston van plant, the company then sends the completed vehicle to DVI's nearby shop. From there, DVI installs the spring-loaded pop-up roof, swivel chairs, rear-seat rail system, and other associated bits to bring the Metris-based camper up to the specs of Seattle, Washington-based Peace Vans's Weekender conversion kit. Once complete, the van makes its way to one of the three-pointed star's van dealerships with the full-backing of Mercedes-Benz. 

While the Weekender lacks some of the panache of its Marco Polo counterpart, it nevertheless maintains the sense of quality expected of a vehicle wearing the Mercedes badge. Credit the partner companies' attention to detail—it certainly helps that Peace Vans has been building Metris-based camper vans like the Weekender without the assistance of Mercedes.

Admittedly, we do wish the Weekender offered the higher-end features of the Marco Polo. That said, we're just happy Mercedes is finally selling a factory-backed camper van in America.