Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that it will launch electric or hybrid versions of all of its commercial vehicles, starting next year with the eVito. The bigger Sprinter will follow on with electric power in 2019. The announcement was made at the eDrive@VANs workshop in Berlin.
"We are convinced by the necessity of electric drive in our vans, especially in city centre applications. That said, electrification of the commercial fleet is not an end in itself, but follows the same principles as a classic drive when it comes to commercial feasibility. With our eDrive@VANs initiative, we're showing that only holistic mobility solutions extending beyond the drive itself present a real alternative for commercial customers. The eVito is the starting point and will be followed by our new-generation Sprinter as well as the Citan", says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
The eVito gets a 44.1kWh battery pack, which gives it a range of around 150km between charges. Mercedes reckons that with a full load, and in cold conditions (where the batteries are at their worst) that will shrink to around 100km. Designed for urban deliveries, it has a maximum speed of 80km/h, but that can be optionally increased to 120km/h if the customer needs it. The battery pack is installed under the floor, so the van keeps a healthy 6.6 square metre load space, and it can lug a maximum payload of 1,073kg.
It's not just the actual vans themselves, either. Merc says that it realises that it needs a holistic solution if business are going to be attracted to electric vans. "Just as important from the perspective of total cost of ownership is the integration of a robust charging infrastructure as well as comprehensive service and maintenance management."
That will be built, partially, on increased communication between van and truck fleet operators and Mercedes and its engineers. The idea is not simply to create a line-up of electric vans and then sell them, but to create tailored, bespoke solutions for each company, including the design and installation of charging points at a company's operations centres. It will also offer different levels of electric power and range for its vans, juggling the weight of the batteries for longer ranges against the weight of the cargo that can be carried.
Mercedes is planning a development test involving courier firm Hermes, which will start in Hamburg and Stuttgart in 2018. The electric fleet, which will be used for parcel deliveries, will subsequently be rolled out to other urban areas and reach a total of 1,500 electric Vitos and Sprinters by 2020. "The results from customer co-creation for the last mile can be transferred over to other sectors. At the end of the day, all customers can benefit from this transfer of knowledge and technology," explains Mornhinweg.
Mercedes reckons that it's better-placed to do that than most of the competition thanks to its lengthy expertise in electric commercial vehicles - the MB100 electric van was, after all, running as a prototype in the 1990s.