Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to offer all its commercial van model lines with electric drive, starting with the mid-size eVito in the second half of 2018.
Further model ranges will follow from 2019.
The company presented its electric drive strategy at the [email protected] workshop in Berlin. The focus was not just on the electric van itself, but also on a technological ecosystem tailored specifically to customers’ business needs.
“A holistic strategy based on five cornerstones delivers an innovative total-system solution covering the entire value chain of commercial usage,” says the manufacturer.
In order to meet this goal, customer co-creation plays a central role in product development, integrating the strategic partner and their sector expertise into the development process. The new eVito is the first production vehicle to have been developed using this strategic approach.
“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 [email protected] 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.
A commercial fleet must be able to meet transport needs economically and competitively – this principle applies regardless of the type of powertrain. If fleet electrification is to compete on equal terms with the classic internal combustion engine, it will need more than the right economic parameters such as the cost of purchasing and operating the vehicles.
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.
Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to electrify all its commercial model ranges over the next few years, starting with the eVito, which will be followed in 2019 by the eSprinter. The line-up will then be rounded off by the Citan.
“An off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all electric model for tradespeople, couriers and people movers has no long-term future”, says the German manufacturer, so it is pursuing ‘tailormade total-system solutions’ based on expert advice.
Dialogue between customers and the specialists at Mercedes-Benz will “enable the individual adaptation of operating concepts to meet sector needs, fleet size and driving profile as well as the structural prerequisiYtes for creating a dedicated charging infrastructure on company premises”.
The use of connectivity solutions specific to electric vehicles as well as financing and mobility concepts will also be addressed at the early playnning stages.
As a pioneer in the development of battery-electric vehicles – the MB100 van was powered by an electric motor back in the mid-90s – Mercedes-Benz says that “even more so than in private ownership, vehicles used for commercial purposes must be tailormade exactly to their respective use”.
Diverse types of trades and services, providers of courier or package delivery services and companies involved in the public or private transportation of people call for very different solutions.
Starting with the Vito and following in 2019 with the Sprinter, Mercedes will offer electric vehicles that can be adapted during the purchasing process in their range and load facilities to suit their specific usage.
When it comes to operating costs, the electric variant 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. A prerequisite, however, is the appropriate framework, such as attractive electricity pricing.
The electrification of the model line-up is accompanied by a paradigm shift in development – with customer co-creation taking centre stage. For instance, customers like logistics service provider Hermes and its specific requirements are 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 and Sprinter vehicles by 2020. The cooperation includes working together to generate a concept for an efficient charging infrastructure at Hermes logistics centres, and IT services for optimum control of the electric fleet.
In addition, the entire delivery process will be accelerated through the likes of automatic load-space systems that facilitate the automated loading and unloading of packages.
“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.
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’.
Mercedes will invest a further 150 million euros in the electrification of its commercial line-up over the next few years.
With an installed battery capacity of 41.4 kWh, the range of the new eVito will be around 150 kilometres. Even in unfavourable conditions such as low outside temperatures and with a full load, it will have a range of 100 kilometres. The mid-size van is thus perfectly configured for city-centre use by delivery companies, tradespeople and public transport providers.
The battery can be fully charged in around six hours, while an output of 84 kW and up to 300 newton metres of torque deliver ‘dynamic’ performance. When it comes to top speed, the customer can choose between two options: A maximum speed of 80 km/h fulfils 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.
Load space is generous: there’s a maximum payload of 1,073 kilograms and a maximum load volume of 6.6 m3. Because the battery is installed beneath the vehicle the usability of the entire load space is unrestricted.
Mercedes’ ‘adVANce strategic future initiative’ launched in the autumn of 2016 is a response to the core challenges of current trends: increasing urbanisation with growing traffic levels in urban areas, stricter requirements for air purity and the demand for sustainable mobility.
Under the adVANce umbrella, the brand will have invested around 500 million euros by 2020 in areas such as the integration of a wide range of connectivity solutions into its vans, innovative hardware solutions for the van sector and new mobility concepts.