Efficient, economical, flexible and reliable at all times: in everyday fleet operation, battery electric vehicles are measured against the same parameters as vehicles with conventional drives. With the eVito, which comes to market right after the 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicles, Mercedes-Benz Vans is proving that electrified models are competitive and, depending on use case, able to hold their own in terms of cost against classic internal combustion engines. That is why the brand with the three-pointed star has been taking a new approach since the introduction of the eDrive@VANs strategy – the use case is now the key factor when it comes to evaluating various powertrain options. Battery-electric drive or classic internal combustion engines are then only selected when they offer the optimum prerequisites for a defined application. The powertrain line-up will be enhanced in the medium term by the fuel cell. Showcasing the merits of this technology is the Concept Sprinter F-CELL.
To meet the needs of as many transport requirements as possible and enable entry into zero-local-emissions electric mobility for a diverse array of sectors, the eSprinter is already waiting in the wings as the second model after the eVito. The large van will celebrate its market premiere next year.
Check practicality with the eVAN Ready app
The level of interest in this new form of mobility already apparent ahead of market launch shows that the new eVito model range meets customer expectations. One strong indicator of positive customer feedback is the extensive use of the eVAN Ready app, which enables users to check online whether battery-electric models could play a role in their own fleet.
“A zero-local-emissions fleet that still meets all expectations in terms of everyday usability, flexibility, reliability and economy – the eVito dispels these apparent contradictions. We are at the forefront of this development, will use the momentum, follow up with the eSprinter and, in the medium term, offer battery-electric drive across the entire van line-up. We want the selection of a specific powertrain variant to be determined by the respective use case and not by the availability of the suitable vehicle class”, says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
A range of 150 kilometres, fully recharged in six hours
The new eVito is at home primarily in urban delivery traffic. However, its range and load capacity also meet the demands of tradespeople and service technicians. An installed battery capacity of 41 kWh delivers a range of around 150 kilometres. Even when conditions are unfavourable, the customer still has a range of 100 kilometres. The full range is restored after six hours of charging.
The battery-electric drive generates 84 kW and up to 300 newton metres of torque – tailormade for urban use. The top speed can be adapted to the given use case. If the eVito is driven largely in city-centre environments, a top speed of 80 km/h conserves energy and increases the range. Alternatively, it can be configured for a top speed of up to 120 km/h.
The mid-size van can be ordered with one of two available wheelbases. The base version has an overall length of 5140 millimetres and a maximum payload of 1073 kilograms, placing it on par with the conventionally powered Vito. The extra-long version comes to 5370 millimetres. Its generous cargo space has room for goods and wares up to a payload of 1048 kilograms. The maximum gross vehicle weight is 3200 kilograms. The position of the batteries also ensures excellent flexibility, with a cargo volume of between 6.0 and 6.6 m3. The energy storage units are located underneath the vehicle and do not impinge on cargo space in any way.
Not least of all, the eVito demonstrated its reliability and the technical maturity of all components during extensive winter testing. Handling, efficiency, ergonomics and comfort in extreme conditions were closely examined at temperatures of as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, in snow and on icy roads. The tests also covered charging and driving characteristics in the cold as well as the low-temperature resistance of the powertrain components and software.
eSprinter comes with all the qualities of the segment founder
The eSprinter follows the eVito next year. The vehicle that founded the large van segment is the perfect companion whether the vehicle is used as a workshop on wheels or as a spacious delivery vehicle. The new eSprinter will be offered initially as a panel van with a high roof and a gross vehicle weight of 3500 kilograms. Just like a Sprinter with an internal combustion engine, the maximum cargo volume is 10.5 m3.
With an installed battery capacity of 55 kWh, the anticipated range stands at around 150 kilometres with a maximum payload of 900 kilograms. The second battery option allows customers to set other priorities in the usage parameters. Three battery units with a capacity of 41 kWh deliver a range of around 115 kilometres. In return, the maximum payload increases by around 140 kilograms to approximately 1040 kilograms.
Like the entry-level diesel engine, the electric drive in the eSprinter generates 84 kW and torque of up to 300 newton metres. Just like the eVito, the top speed can be configured for purpose – to a maximum speed of 80 km/h or up to 120 km/h if more pace is required.
Customer Co-Creation leads to sector-specific solutions
However, the eDrive@VANs strategy is not just about the electrification of the vehicle fleet but also the configuration of a total system solution tailored to the respective customer needs. This includes, for instance, advice on vehicle selection, support with tools like the eVAN Ready app and overall consideration of the total cost of ownership. Also critical for potential users of the eVito and eSprinter is the analysis of the organisational and technical circumstances at the premises of commercial customers. Ultimately, the integration of an intelligent charging infrastructure concept lays the foundation for sustained competitiveness and for conserving resources with a commercial fleet.
Playing an important role in the implementation is Customer Co-Creation. This begins with a comprehensive appraisal and is followed by the joint development of individual solutions in close collaboration with the customer and the provision of expert advice. This covers all the individual aspects from vehicle selection to charging infrastructure to the necessary upgrading of energy networks at the respective locations.
Two examples of the inclusion of the customer perspective in the development of holistic system solutions are the pilot projects running with logistics companies Hermes and Amazon Logistics. Cooperation partner Hermes Germany is putting 1500 Mercedes-Benz electric vans into service. The integration of an efficient charging infrastructure as well as intelligent, software-controlled load management are also part of the pilot project.
By the end of the year, Amazon Logistics will have 100 eVitos in its fleet at its Bochum and Düsseldorf locations. Furthermore, Amazon and Mercedes-Benz Vans are working with other partners on a wide-ranging operator concept for the Bochum facility. Alongside the charging infrastructure, this covers parking space management and the automated capture of vehicle status.
The digital services provided by Mercedes PRO connect offer new ways for economically efficient fleet management. They include servicing and maintenance management as well as driving-style analysis, optimised communication between fleet manager and driver and mobile checks for ensuring doors are locked and windows closed. In addition, Mercedes-Benz Vans is offering for the first time a new service for intelligent load management that also permits an overview of the charge status for each vehicle. This enables optimum use of the charging infrastructure and can help avoid additional investment in upgrades to the facility’s energy network.
The offering from Mercedes-Benz Vans is fully scalable and can thus be configured to suit a vast range of fleet sizes from a sole trader with one vehicle to a conglomerate with several hundred vehicles. The individualisation of the offering extends all the way to the workstation behind the steering wheel, the comfort of which is on par with that of a car.
Vehicle energy management – the supreme discipline
Starting with a defined use case for the configuration of exactly the right vehicle with battery-electric drive requires consideration of the fleet as a whole. This also means more than ever that the interdependency of different variables must be included in the calculation. In certain situations, the longest possible range and the use of comfortable extras are diametrically opposed and have to be adapted to the respective use case. For reasons of efficiency and resource conservation, energy management is a crucial discipline in all Mercedes-Benz vehicles. However, in battery-electric models it is the most critical factor, the “ supreme discipline”.
Seat heating, efficient heating control during winter or use of air conditioning in summer have a direct impact on the energy gauge and thus on the range. This is where Mercedes-Benz Vans has achieved a careful balance that takes into account both the range requirements and the comfort of the workstation behind the wheel. One important factor in this is pre-conditioning, which, depending on the outside temperature, warms or cools the vehicle interior before the motor is started. Not only does this hugely increase driver and passenger comfort, it also lowers the energy required for climate control while driving, thus effectively avoiding load peaks.
Recuperation is another way of increasing range. The potential savings are dependent largely upon use case (incl. payload) and driving cycles. This form of energy recovery unfolds its full potential above all in city traffic with lots of deceleration phases. That’s why the eVito is offered with three driving programmes and four further recuperation phases that enable the driver to get the very best from his/her vehicle at all times based on different usage parameters and individual driving style.
No compromises in safety and reliability
To establish the eVito and then also the eSprinter in the market, functionality, comfort and everyday usability must be on par with that of diesel-powered models. The same goes for the reliability under the challenging circumstances of daily used commercial vehicles and also for a dependable maintenance and service management.
Mercedes-Benz Vans offers a round-the-clock service network and comprehensive aftersales support with suitably trained and qualified service personnel. In the everyday business of fleet management, this service quality, including short maintenance and repair times, forms the basis for minimising downtime. The sales and service network ensures that operating a battery-electric fleet is economical and straightforward.
Concept Sprinter F-CELL showcases expansion of eDrive@VANs strategy
More than ever before, Mercedes-Benz Vans is making the selection of the right powertrain concept dependent upon customer benefits. Besides vehicle technology, this also takes into consideration system weight, charging or refuelling time, range and commercial economy. Looking to the future, Mercedes-Benz will enhance the eDrive@VANs strategy with the fuel cell. The Concept Sprinter F-CELL uses the example of a semi-integrated motorhome to show the full breadth of the characteristic benefits of a fuel cell, from long range to zero-local-emissions mobility. These are characteristics that are also ideally suited to other use cases such as longer courier routes or minibuses in inter-urban operation.
The Concept Sprinter F-CELL combines fuel cell and battery technology in a plug-in hybrid. The intelligent interaction of battery and fuel cell delivers an electric output of around 147 kW and 350 newton metres of torque. The three tanks in the substructure store a total of 4.5 kilograms of hydrogen and facilitate a range of around 300 kilometres. If a longer range is required, another tank at the rear of the vehicle can be added, lifting the range to as much as 530 kilometres.