Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to offer all its light commercial vehicle model lines with pure zero emission electric drive. Last week in Berlin, the beginning of this major investment and initiative was announced with the mid-size eVito, which will enter the market in the second half of 2018. Further model ranges will follow, starting in 2019. At the eDrive@VANs workshop, the focus was not just on the electric van itself, but what was described as ‘a technological ecosystem tailored specifically to customers’ business needs’, based on five related parameters – a holistic ecosystem, sector focus, commercial feasibility, co-creation and technology transfer.
“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,” stated Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Mercedes-Benz Vans most recent effort to electrify a commercial vehicle model was with the Vito E-Cell in 2010, which entered small series production. The much improved eVito set for introduction early next year, will be followed in 2019 by the eSprinter, the line-up will then be rounded off by the Citan small panel van. As the Citan is based on the existing Renault Kangoo, which recently launched the Z.E.33, an extended range electric version, it is surprising that this model within the new Mercedes-Benz commercial model range with electric drive is kept until last.
The new Mercedes-Benz eVito, with an installed battery capacity of 41.4 kWh is said to offer a range distance of around 150 kilometres, having a top speed of up to 120 km/h, and payload of more than 1,000 kg, together with a cargo volume of up to 6.6 m3. Even in changing weather conditions such as low outside temperatures and with a full load, it will have a range of 100 kilometres. The battery can be fully charged in around six hours. Overall, the power output of 84 kW delivers up to 300 Newton Metres of torque. When it comes to top speed, the customer can choose between two options: A maximum speed of 80 km/h which meets all requirements in city traffic and urban areas, while conserving energy and increasing range. If more speed is needed, the customer can choose a top speed of up to 120 km/h. Installation of the battery beneath the vehicle contributes to the unrestricted usability of the entire load space. The maximum gross vehicle weight stands at 3,200 kilograms.
The Mercedes-Benz Vans electric mobility strategy in brief:
An off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all electric model for tradespeople, couriers and people movers has no long-term future, which is why Mercedes-Benz Vans is pursuing bespoke solutions based on expert advice. Networking with customers and specialists at Mercedes-Benz Vans will enable the individual to select the best operating concept to meet their sector needs, such as fleet size and driving profile as well as creating the necessary charging station on company premises. Financial packages are also included in this dedicated programme.
High level of sector expertise for precisely the right product fit
As one of the pioneers in the development of battery-electric vehicles stretching to when the MB100 van was powered by an electric motor back in the mid-90s – Mercedes-Benz Vans can now combine experience generated over two decades with expertise from its everyday sales and marketing activities.
Focus on commercial viability and low TCO
When it comes to operating costs, the new eVito stands on an equal footing with the diesel-powered Vito. The higher purchase price is offset by lower energy and maintenance costs as well as tax savings, plus low-cost night charge electricity pricing. Continuous and fast developments in battery technology plus the environmental benefits, will gain serious green credits for the owner-operator/user.
Customer co-creation a new focal point of development
The electrification of the model line-up is primarily centered on the customer. For example, a major fleet customer such as German logistics service provider, Hermes, has its specific requirements integrated directly into the ongoing development of the electric vehicles and services. Hermes and Mercedes-Benz Vans agreed on a cooperation earlier this year, and will embark on a pilot phase in Hamburg and Stuttgart at the start of 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 Vito vans along with eSprinters by 2020.
Mercedes-Benz Vans is working with its customers to drive the innovation process in last-mile solutions, and not only concentrating on the courier and package delivery sector. “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,” explained Volker.
Expertise and technology transfer from the Daimler Group
“The core brand value of Mercedes-Benz Vans must remain throughout, regardless of the type of drivetrain – there can be no compromises in ergonomics, workplace safety, comfort and safety in future either. The vehicle must also be attractive to the drivers who use it day after day. In order to guarantee these hallmark attributes, Mercedes-Benz Vans is building on proven vehicle concepts and further augmenting them with an all-electric powertrain, developed in-house. This is founded on its access to the extensive technological resources of Daimler AG. Carrying over modular elements from car development that have a high degree of maturity, guarantees first-class quality. The Group is investing heavily in electric mobility and making systematic use of the synergies between the car and commercial vehicle divisions. Deutsche Accumotive – a Daimler subsidiary based in Kamenz near Dresden – supplies batteries for the eVito. Different battery charging systems and tiered battery sizes set new benchmarks in economy and the cost/benefit ratio. In addition to high investment in other areas of the Group, Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest a further 150 million euros in the electrification of its commercial line-up over the next years,” he concluded.