Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to offer all its commercial van model lines with electric drive. This will start with the mid-size eVito in the second half of 2018. Further model ranges will follow, starting in 2019. The leading van manufacturer presented its holistic electric drive strategy at the eDrive@VANs 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. 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 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.
Mercedes-Benz electric vans suitable for everyday use, economical and sector specific
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.
Launch programme for the eVito mid-size van
Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to electrify all its commercial model ranges over the next few years, starting with the eVito; the second all-electric production model from Mercedes-Benz Vans after the 2010 Vito E-Cell. The eVito will be followed in 2019 by the eSprinter. The line-up will then be rounded off by the Citan. The commercial model ranges with electric drive will thus cover all requirements from people moving to goods transport.
The Mercedes-Benz Vans electric mobility strategy is based on five cornerstones a holistic ecosystem, sector focus, commercial feasibility, co-creation and technology transfer:
Holistic ecosystem augments vehicle development
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 tailormade total-system solutions based on expert advice. Dialogue between customers and the specialists at Mercedes-Benz Vans will enable the individual adaptation of operating concepts to meet sector needs, fleet size and driving profile as well as the structural prerequisites for creating a dedicated charging infrastructure on company premises. The advice provided thus extends well beyond choosing the right vehicle variants and sector-specific equipment details. The use of connectivity solutions specific to electric vehicles as well as financing and mobility concepts will also be addressed at the early planning stages.
High level of sector expertise for precisely the right product fit
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 Vans combines experience garnered over two decades with comprehensive sector expertise from its everyday sales and marketing activities. 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-Benz Vans will offer versatile and flexible base electric vehicles that can be adapted during the purchasing process in their range and load facilities to suit their specific usage scenarios. The new eVito will embody this very variability from market launch.
Focus on commercial feasibility and low TCO
When it comes to operating costs, the newcomer 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 is the appropriate framework, such as attractive electricity pricing. Rapid developments in battery technology promise that, going forward, electric-drive vehicles will be amortised faster than those with conventional engines and will offer distinct commercial and environmental benefits. Furthermore, the holistic approach and the provision of a complete eDrive ecosystem significantly reduces operating costs across the entire lifecycle compared with piecemeal, isolated solutions, and offers customers of the eVito significant efficiency benefits and thus commercial added value.
Customer co-creation a new focal point of development
The electrification of the model line-up is accompanied by a paradigm shift in development with customer co-creation taking centre stage. For instance, strategic customers such as 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 by 2020. The strategic cooperation also 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 automated loading and unloading of packages.
Mercedes-Benz Vans is working with its customers to drive the innovation process in last-mile solutions, and not only with a view to 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”, explains Mornhinweg.
Expertise and technology transfer from the Daimler Group
The core brand promises of Mercedes-Benz Vans apply regardless of the type of drive 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 150m in the electrification of its commercial line-up over the next years.
The new eVito range of around 150km, top speed of up to 120km/h, payload of more than 1,000kg and cargo volume of up to 6.6m3
With an installed battery capacity of 41.4kWh, the range of the new eVito will be around 150km. Even in unfavourable conditions such as low outside temperatures and with a full load, it will have a range of 100km. 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 84kW and up to 300Nm of torque deliver dynamic performance. When it comes to top speed, the customer can choose between two options: A maximum speed of 80km/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 120km/h.
The electric model demonstrates its suitability for everyday use not least with a generous load space. It can accommodate a maximum payload of 1,073kg and a maximum load volume of 6.6 m3. Installation of the battery beneath the vehicle contributes to the unrestricted usability of the entire load space. The maximum gross vehicle weight stands at 3,200kg.
Next milestone in the adVANce strategic future initiative
Mercedes-Benz Vans is driving the transition from pure vehicle manufacturer to provider of holistic mobility solutions with the adVANce strategic future initiative launched in autumn 2016. The strategic reorientation is also a response to the core challenges of current megatrends 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 with the three-pointed star will have invested around 500m 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.