- We get to grips with the electric Vito
- 93-mile range restricts it to urban operations
- Simple to drive, but likely to cost more than £35k
Ignore the apparent lack of any tell-tale flamboyance, this is a glimpse into the near-future for urban-centric van operators: it’s the all-electric Mercedes-Benz eVito set to go on sale in Britain during 2019.
Mercedes eVito: what’s its range on a single charge?
Most important: it has a theoretical range of 93 miles between charges. That’s the key figure any fleet operator and van driver will want to know, so clearly the eVito’s only going to suit those who operate in a tight geographical confine at relatively low speeds, such as city centres, such as last-mile delivery companies.
Still, 93 miles sounds low, but according to Mercedes most vans across Europe cover fewer than 60 miles per day, so this is more than ample, particularly if the eVito’s part of a large, managed fleet combining fully electric commercial vehicles for urban journeys and diesel-engined vehicles for trips further afield. Mercedes even has apps and online tools to to educate would-be buyers and leasers about as part of the switchover process.
Even fully loaded and with the heating cranked-up to sweat-inducing levels, the eVito will be able to cover that 60-mile requirement.
How long does the Mercedes eVito take to charge?
An overnight charge with the most commonplace Type-2 connection will take six hours, with the connection located behind the conventional filler flap. The trio of lithium-ion batteries weigh 125kg and have a capacity of 41.4kWh.
Although it’s unlikely to happen in many cases, the eVito can be hooked-up to a quicker rapid charger more than once per day before it’s reconnected to the slower overnight feed back at base without any issues. A rapid charge should replenish around 80% of the battery capacity in around 45 minutes – long enough for a comfortable lunch break.
What is the Mercedes eVito’s load capacity?
As the batteries are housed under the floor, there’s no reduction in the Long and Extra Long models’ load volume (6.0 and 6.6 cubic metres, respectively) (shorter eVito Compacts will come on stream when the market demands them).
Maximum payload is 1,073kg for the eVito Long and 1,048kg for the Extra Long.
Gross vehicle weight is 3.2t, a figure that diesel-engined Vitos will soon match.
How much will the Mercedes eVito cost?
It will be significantly more expensive to buy than a diesel Vito, yes. UK prices have yet to be revealed, but expect them to be around £35,000 to £40,000 plus VAT based on the German market price of €39,990.
But that’s only part of the equation, because charging the eVito will cost significantly less than refilling a diesel’s fuel tank and maintenance costs will be lower because there are few moving parts to service. The batteries have an eight-year, 62,500-mile warranty.
Figures have yet to be provided for British operators, but over a three-year period the eVito will have the same total cost of ownership as a diesel-engine 111CDI in Germany.
In order to keep costs as low as possible features such as LED headlamps and tail lights, as well as active safety systems like Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control will remain optional.
Why does it look the same as a diesel Mercedes Vito?
That’s deliberate as far as Mercedes is concerned, essentially limited to an eVito script on the rear and ‘Electric’ badges on the front wings.
Unlike Nissan, with its blue logos and other stylistic tweaks for the electric e-NV200, the only visual alteration for the eVito is a revised instrument panel with a charging gauge where the rev-counter would ordinarily be situated.
It’s about normalisation of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), meaning things have only changed compared with the diesel Vito where they needed to.
Presumably it doesn’t drive like a diesel Vito?
Well, it’s much quieter, but that aside it’s not at all far removed from a Vito fitted with an automatic gearbox.
Engaging drive is done via Mercedes’ familiar column-mounted lever, defaulting to D- mode. This is the most efficient setting, with maximum braking recuperation of -1.5 metres per second, meaning that you hardly need to touch the brake pedal - simply lifting off the accelerator engages the brakes, making it easy to operate in urban environments. That might sound difficult to get your head around but it soon feels perfectly normal. The braking action as you lift off the accelerator is certainly smoother and less abrupt than the protoyoe version we drove in Berlin in November 2017.
Flick what would ordinarily be the change-up steering wheel paddle to switch to D mode, with moderate braking-energy recuperation of -1.0ms, while another flick up to D+ reduces it to -0.5m/s.
A final flick, to D++ has no braking recuperation at all, meaning that the eVito will continue to roll along when you lift off the throttle.
Is there anything else an eVito driver needs to take into account?
Heating! Keeping the cab of a van warm on a winter’s day where the driver will have to get in and out frequently requires a lot of energy to generate and replenish the heat, meaning a much-reduced range for a BEV.
There is a heat pump on board, but it’s best to use this to pre-condition the cabin when the eVito’s still on charge. It can be used to warm or cool the passenger area in advance of a journey, using approximately 1.5kWh of electricity in the process.
What else is Mercedes doing as part of this education process you mentioned?
Mercedes is keen to illustrate to potential BEV van buyers what the benefits of electric powertrains are, as well as how to use them more efficiently.
Fleet operators will be able to subscribe to Mercedes Vans Pro Connect, allowing them to tap into each vehicle’s battery capacity, how efficiently the driver is going about their business and even display details of deliveries via the eVito’s integrated multimedia system.
For those who are sceptical, even before you buy the eVan Ready app can be installed on drivers’ smartphones where they log every journey, including all the stops for deliveries, giving a clear insight as to how many drives could have been covered by an eVito. This allows fleet managers a better insight into the mix of diesel-engined and electric vans they’d require to cover different journey types.
Mercedes will even advise on how best to future-proof a depot parking lot with charging points for BEV vans.
Electric vans aren’t for everyone, but that somewhat misses the point. What’s important here is that it adds an efficient, zero-emissions alternative to the mix that will suit many van operators who predominantly work in urban environments.