Thanks to improved range, a growing charging network and government incentives, electric cars are rapidly becoming a mainstream choice. What about the commercial sector?
The news has been dominated by Tesla’s plans for an all-electric truck, but with pollution-free electric vehicles increasingly in demand for use in cities, other manufacturers are taking the sector seriously. Peugeot already produces electric versions of its light vans, and now industry giant Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to begin turning its range electric in 2018.
Mercedes is planning electric drive for all models in its van range. Staring with the eVito in 2018, other models will follow with an eSprinter from 2019 and an eCitan after that. This is not the first electric Mercedes van; the company launched the Vito E-Cell in 2010 and had an experimental electric MB100 in the 1990s.
Van users frequently customise their vehicles with add-ons like van plylining, and Mercedes plans to offer a range of bespoke features to electric van buyers. This will deliver different vehicle variants and options to meet the needs of different sectors. It will also help fleet users to create their own on-site charging infrastructure.
With emissions requirements for towns and cities likely to become increasingly strict in the next few years, the use of electric vans for frequent stop-start delivery work is likely to become more common. This is an area where Van plylining can help protect the vehicle from damage due to frequent loading and unloading, and it’s where a mid-sized vehicle like the eVito is ideal. Mercedes has set up a pilot scheme with parcel courier company Hermes that will see the vans trialled in German cities starting in early 2018.
The maximum range of the eVito is expected to be around 150 kilometres (95 miles). Even with a full load and in cold weather, it should mange 100 kilometres (65 mph), and a full charge should take six hours. Users will have the option of limiting the top speed to 80 kph (50 mph), which is enough for city use and will preserve battery life.
The eVito’s batteries are fitted under the floor, which means the load area is not compromised in any way. It offers more than six cubic metres of space and a payload of 1,073 Kgs.