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New Mercedes-Benz electric van confirmed for 2018

  • Electric van plans revealed at 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show
  • Promises scaleable battery size to balance range and cost
  • Could be based on new 2018 Sprinter, match cost of diesel

Written by CJ Hubbard Published: 20 September 2016 Updated: 27 June 2017

UPDATE: for the latest information on the new Mercedes-Benz electric van click here

Mercedes-Benz is to build a new all-electric van, and will put it into production in 2018.

Speaking at the Daimler media night ahead of the 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Volker Mornhinweg confirmed the new electric van, and stated that a new e-drive initiative was already underway to develop the powertrain.

First details of the new Mercedes electric van

Understandably, Mercedes is keeping details of the new electric van close to its chest at this stage, but Mornhinweg did say that the forthcoming EV would feature a new drivetrain and a “scaleable battery size” – meaning that buyers will be able to balance battery size, cost and payload impact (batteries are heavy…) against their required range.

The vehicle will also be optimised for rapid or overnight charging on a similar basis, depending on individual customer demand. Whether this will also have an influence on the kind of battery technology employed remains to be seen – but some types of electric energy storage are better suited to rapid charging and other are better suited to extended range.

Mornhinweg was also confident that “in certain cases” the total production cost of the new electric vehicle would “come close to” that of an equivalent conventional diesel model.

What will the new Mercedes electric van be based on?

Exactly which Mercedes van will form the basis of the new electric model also remains to be seen at this stage. But there are some clues flying around…

Although Mercedes has previously built an electric version of the Vito – the Vito E-Cell, of which “approximately 1,000” were made starting back in 2011 – the proposed 2018 timing for the new EV would coincide with the expected arrival time of the next Sprinter.

Not only would a larger van have more space for batteries on board, the recently unveiled Mercedes Vision Van concept – pictured here, also at the Daimler media night ahead of the 2016 IAA show – is very much Sprinter rather than Vito-sized. And not only does it presumably hint at what the next Sprinter will look like, the Vision Van is all-electric, too.

You can read more about the Vision Van in our original reveal story by clicking here, but interestingly Mornhinweg has put some numbers on the e-drive system in the concept – saying its electric motor would provide 75kW of power (equivalent to around 102hp) and have a range of between 50 and 168 miles “depending on application”. Which tallies with the scalable battery solution for the proposed production model…

What are the advantages of an electric van?

Mercedes is talking about three main advantages to an electric van:

  • Zero emissions in motion – so good news for the environment, and possibly for your business if you want to operate in future innercity Ultra-Low Emission Zones
  • Noise – electric vehicles are essentially silent, bringing potentially massive advantages in urban areas for both quality of life for residents and out of hours delivery services
  • Cost – theoretically, electric vehicle running costs are signficantly lower than for conventional engines since there are fewer moving parts to service and (according to Mercedes) electricity is around 40 percent cheaper than diesel

2016 Mercedes Vision Van previews the van of the future

Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell road test