Sprinter at Center of Oregon Conversion Boom

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Matt Carr stepped into a Sprinter conversion van Tuesday morning and explained why he hopes such small-gear haulers could be the next big thing for the Eugene, Ore., company he just bought.

Oregon Motorcoach Center converted the commercial van for Mercedes-Benz of Eugene and plans to convert more vehicles, the Register-Guard reports.

Carr expects demand from outdoor enthusiasts. Depending on customer request, the company can outfit vans to hold an ATV, carry snowboards or hold stand-up paddleboards.

About 30 percent of the 100 Sprinter vans that Eric Voss, commercial vans manager at Mercedes-Benz of Eugene, sells each year are destined for conversion. He said the vans have proved popular for conversion because of fuel economy, longevity and resale value. It helps that the vans can come from the factory with raised roofs tall enough for most people to stand inside.

Greg Storm, owner of Van Specialties in Tualatin, said his company has been making “Magic Vans,” conversion vans suited to all sorts of outdoor activity, since 1973. What has changed is converting vans that were not originally built as converted vehicles.

Storm’s company has a 14-month wait list for customers wanting a Sprinter conversion.

A couple of years ago, Mercedes added a 4×4 Sprinter to its lineup, increasing the demand for the vans, said Chris Schey, marketing director for Outside Van. The Troutdale company also converts vans.

The company is booked until February with Sprinter conversions.

Cost of converting a Sprinter at Oregon Motorcoach ranges from $15,000 to $50,000, said Oregon Motorcoach owner Carr. The cost goes up with whatever customers add to the design.

The vans themselves sell for $33,000 to about $60,000, said Voss, the Mercedes sales manager in Eugene. The price goes up with bigger engines and larger vans.

Carr declined to say how much he paid for the business. The company employees 14 people, and Carr said he is hiring a couple more, expecting an increase in business with the firm’s entrance into van conversions.

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