My MB Sprinter is delayed at least a month. It’s still in Germany “in production.” I had to call, email and call again over two days for Chad Clark, Mercedes-Benz, to tell me that from the original date of February 24 when the van was supposed to arrive in Austin at Sportsmobile, it looks like a month delay. Unfortunately, this new information lacks the specificity that inspires confidence.
I get it. Manufacturing a custom Sprinter is complicated, as documented by the Mercedes-Benz Video on Sprinter manufacturing. Hopefully, the new $500 million Sprinter factory in Charleston, S.C., which starts construction this year (2016), will ease the process for U.S. customers. I’m just as happy that I am getting mine from Germany. I’ve had the experience of buying a vehicle (an RV in fact) soon after the move of the manufacturing line from one state to another. Maybe my second Sprinter will come form Charleston.
Don’t Computers Do That?
In spite of the complexity in manufacturing a custom Sprinter, I would think that those brilliant Germans would have computers all over the production scheduling and control problem. And, that at a minimum, they would be able to give a customer a current, accurate completion estimate. In most of my meetings with Mercedes Benz, “the computer system was down,” requiring that I be sent needed information later. What does that mean? Am I just unlucky? Or is there a fundamental IT problem? Who is responsible? Being the nosey computer industry analyst that I am, I started researching at the top. I suppose Daimler’s CIO (Chief Information Officer) would hold the-buck-stops-here IT job. Daimler’s longtime CIO Michael Gorriz left Daimler in March 2015. Surely his past sweeping strategic IT decisions could not have been the cause of my little scheduling information problem. In my waiting-for-my-Sprinter boredom, maybe I’ll learn more.
Patience Is Overrated
I’m not patient and I never claimed to be. Further, patience, like humility and sharing are vastly overrated. Although I’m not good at any kind of waiting, I’ve done my best to wait patiently the past few months for my MB Sprinter — because I believe it will ultimately be worth the wait. I was given a firm date when my Sprinter would be in production in Germany, a firm date when it would be put on the boat to the U.S. and a good guess at when it would arrive in Austin at the Sportsmobile factory: about February 24. Relying on that schedule, I contracted manufacturing at Sportsmobile and started planning my RV travels for a few months later.
I’m thinking that buying a custom van RV is a lot like building a custom house: one can expect schedule slippages and cost overruns. But, it will all seem worth it when you open the door for the first time, or in my case, when I load up my pug and my computers and embark for a not-very-planned journey to an out-of-my-rut place.