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by Matt Brogan

Mercedes-Benz has today unveiled a battery-powered prototype of its Vito commercial van. The vehicle was prepared for the informal EU Competitiveness Council meeting, which was held in San Sebastián late last week.

During the event, European ministers of economic affairs met to discuss issues concerning the economic viability of future technologies, such as battery-powered EVs (electric vehicles). Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, spoke about the sustainability of EVs in his capacity as current president of the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association).

Based on the Mercedes-Benz Vito commercial van, this experimental vehicle was developed to “start of a new era in local, zero-emission mobility in the van sector”. It is said to be the outcome of R&D activities that focused on three key aspects: optimising combustion engines, boosting efficiency via custom hybrid components and emission-free vehicle operation deploying batteries and fuel cells.

Over the remainder of this year, more than 100 examples of the Vito EV will be delivered to 20 customers, including fleet operators and public institutions. A further 2,000 units are planned following these initial trials.

The Vito EV is designed to run solely on battery power and utilises powerful lithium-ion batteries to supply the van with an operating voltage of 400-volts, 16-amps current and an available capacity of 32kWh. The Vito EV’s range is said to be around 130-kilometres but can be “considerably higher given an appropriate driving style”. The electric motor delivers a peak output of 90kW to see the Vito EV reach an 80km/h electronically limited top-speed.

Safety features are on par with Vito’s traditionally-powered counterparts and include ESC with Traction Control and ABS braking. The number of airbags offered corresponds with Vito model grade, just like petrol- and diesel-powered models do.

Payload and load volume also compare favourably to a conventionally powered Vito with a load capacity in excess of 900kg possible.




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