2018 Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Mercedes-Benz has identified a power-steering problem plaguing its highly touted Sprinter vans.

The cause of the problem is a fluid leak that can make it difficult to turn the wheel of the vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman, Catherine Gebhardt, told Business Insider.

It has affected Amazon, which recently became Daimler AG's biggest buyer of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans with an order of 20,000 vehicles — up from a previous order of 5,000 — for its growing last-mile-delivery program. The program enables courier companies to lease the vans, which are emblazoned with the Prime logo, for Amazon package deliveries.

One Amazon delivery service provider has encountered the power-steering problem in about a quarter of the 40 Mercedes-Benz vans that the company received at a delivery station in early September, according to an employee of the company, who asked to remain anonymous. This person said Mercedes-Benz had since repaired the affected vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz notified Amazon's delivery service partners of the issue on September 18 and asked them to schedule an on-site inspection of the power-steering system with their local Mercedes-Benz dealer, Gebhardt said.

"This is being done as a proactive measure to minimize downtime," she said, adding that the vehicles can still be driven safely in the event of a leak.

"If there is a leak in the power-steering system, the power assist (especially at a standstill) may be greatly reduced," Gebhardt said. "When driving at slow speeds it will require some additional steering effort, but again, the van can still be controlled."

It's likely that other Mercedes-Benz Sprinter customers in addition to Amazon have been affected by the issue. Mercedes-Benz declined to comment on other customers and on how many vehicles have been impaired by the power-steering issue overall.

Amazon announced its bulk order of the Prime-branded vans at a joint press conference with Mercedes-Benz in September celebrating the opening of the automaker's new factory in North Charleston, South Carolina, which specializes in making Sprinter vans.

The vans can be leased to Amazon's existing delivery service partners, some of which have worked for Amazon since 2015, as well as partners that have been recruited through the new program.

If you have information to share, contact this reporter at hpeterson@businessinsider.com.

Source : https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-mercedes-benz-delivery-vans-mechanical-issue-2018-10

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