2016 Mercedes Urban eTruck concept is the electric delivery lorry of the future

  • Previews future electric truck production technology
  • 124-mile range and just two hours to charge
  • 12.5-tonne payload, on sale in the next decade

Not content with a self-driving bus and a van loaded with drones, Mercedes has one final futuristic surprise in store for anyone heading to the 2016 IAA Commerical Vehicle Show: the Urban eTruck concept.

Now, this is Parkers Vans, so we don't usually go in much for heavy good vehicles - but this one is all-electric, packs a visual punch and points the way to a quieter, less-polluted city centre.

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What is the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck?

Basically it's a showcase for the firm's proposed electric drivetrain for lorries, which was previewed in Stuttgart earlier in 2016.

As the name suggests its aimed at urban delivery services, where the low noise and zero pollution of an e-drive system is especially attractive. And we have to say, it was extremely impressive to hear literally nothing as it drove into the Daimler media evening ahead of the 2016 IAA show proper.

As is usual for such things, the concept is wrapped up in a funky design that emphasises its sleek newness. Of particular note are the lack of visible joins on the outside of the cab, designed to make you understand its aerodynamic efficiency, and details such as the cameras that replace the exterior mirrors and the "black panel grille", which, like the Vision Van concept, the eTruck uses for communication with other road users.

2016 Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck concept

According to Mercedes, the design expresses "positive emotions", but to us that gaping maw of a grille has something of the Cyberman about it, and it's on the verge of giving us the creeps.

What's the spec of the Urban eTruck?

Obivously it's all a bit pie in the sky at the moment, but Mercedes is working on a 200km range for the eTruck. That's around 124 miles, which doesn't sound like much use for a long-haul machine - but we draw your attention once again to the use of the word "urban" in its name. This is a fairly specific kind of solution.

Plus it gets better, as Mercedes is aiming to combine that range with a 25-tonne gross vehicle weight - which means around 12.8-tonnes of payload. And the charging time would be just two hours. In the context of contemporary electric vehicle capability this would be impressive.

Of course, there's a whole bunch of connectivity to help plan the most efficient driving route based on load, traffic conditions and even topography (that's the number and size of hills to the likes of us).

2016 Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck concept

Plus a clearly production-ready interior design that includes a pair of display screens, one of which features a neat scales device intended to reassure the driver that their actual range matches the predicted range, and offers suggested actions if it suddenly doesn't.

When is Mercedes' electric truck going into production?

There's always a catch. It isn't - at least, not immediately. After the fancy silent-running demo and lovingly prepared videos of it in action, Mercedes rather sheepishly acknowledged that the darn thing would cost so much at the present time that it is utterly untenable.

All is not lost, however, as come around about 2025 the cost/performance ratio of the battery and electric motor technology will apparently be feasible. That gives you nearly a decade to grow a second pair of eyes in the back of your head in order to avoid getting run over by the eTruck's production offspring as all 25 tonnes of them move noiselessly around the depot...

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