The world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Vision e Concept provides a look into how the future for these versatile workhorses might look like.
The new plug-in hybrid Mercedes-Benz V-Class van was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva motor show, where the head of the company's van division, Volker Mornhinweg, was keen to emphasise the fact that the German marque hasn’t forgotten to touch all aspects of its product lineup with the high-tech brush and a sense of what might be possible in years to come.
“We only added the letter ‘e’ to the Mercedes-Benz alphabet last year,” Mornhinweg said. “Our V-Class line offers various solutions for customers the Vision e Concept is a look at what is possible when it comes to drivetrain technology.”
He went on to explain that the V-Class is the most efficient vehicle in its segment, but Mercedes-Benz has created a modular hybrid system for their passenger cars and that can be easily adapted to the V-Class.
"This concept has the same powertrain as our C350 e," Mornhinweg said of the plug-in hybrid C-Class: that means a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that tag-teams with an electric motor for a combined total system output of 245kW and 600Nm.
Slightly sportier styling than the current range of vans on offer gives away the identity of the Vision e Concept, including 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels.
Inside, the Vision e Concept is trimmed in two-tone white and silver leather with white nappa leather for the two executive seats. The roof is made largely from glass, and the two integrated iPad holders mounted into the front seat backrests can be rotated through 90 degrees. Mercedes-Benz says there are integrated charging interfaces, and two USB charging ports.
Mercedes-Benz Australia senior manager for public relations, product and corporate affairs, David McCarthy, agrees that the Vision e Concept is a clever offering.
“We know that a significant number of Vianos and Valentes are sold into the hire car market,” McCarthy said. “I think you could make a good case for this vehicle if the efficiency is right on the money because we already know the interior flexibility is fantastic.”
McCarthy was in no doubt that the Vision e Concept would be a hit in Australia, should a production version eventuate.
“If it makes it to production, if it is RHD and if the price is right, I think you could do some good numbers in that niche segment,” he told CarAdvice. “We do love vans in Australia and we use them for work for a variety of tasks. There is certainly an opportunity there, but there is a long way to go.”
McCarthy went on to explain that the concept is a direct look at the mentality of the design team and where the brand is looking for the future.
"There’s no reason you couldn’t build this vehicle,” he said. “The packaging is so much more versatile than a passenger car because of the space on offer.”