An electric variant of the third-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is set for production, and Mercedes-Benz Australia is hopeful the eco-friendly load lugger will make it Down Under.
While technical details are yet to be revealed, Mercedes-Benz confirmed at the launch of the new Sprinter in Germany last night the eSprinter would go on sale in Europe later in 2019, following the smaller eVito, revealed last year and on sale in Europe in 2018.
“We are electrifying our entire commercial vehicle portfolio step-by-step. We already presented the eCanter and the eVito in 2017. And they will be followed this year by the electric Citaro,” said Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG at the launch of the new Sprinter in Duisburg, Germany last night.
Mercedes-Benz is developing a strategy alongside its customer-base to offer tailor made mobility solutions for fleet operators.
Areas such as fleet size, or even the ability to offer complete infrastructure solutions, such as creating an in-house charging platform on the fleet operator’s premises, have been discussed, in what's dubbed an end-to-end eco-system.
Additionally, the eSprinter’s electric drivetrain can be tailor-made to meet the range and payload requirements of fleet operators – many of whom, according to Mercedes-Benz, already know their precise requirements.
Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, told assembled media, including CarAdvice, the company opted for pure-electric mobility over hybrid technology because of the physical and economic constraints of hybrid powertrains.
“I have to say that some years ago we made some big research about which kind of drivetrain when it comes to electric cars,” said Mornhinweg. “Is it hybrid, or should it be full electric?
“We made some research with customers and also looked at cities and regions and what might be an appropriate approach.
“We had a look at our huge markets at what are the circumstances there. Therefore, we saw that it's difficult for the hybrid. The hybrid is quite expensive, on the one hand. On the other hand, you have then two powertrains inboard which means you will lose payload for our customers… therefore we said it makes not a lot of sense.
“We will go 100 per cent for full electric.”
While technical specifications for the eSprinter are yet to be confirmed, we do know the eVito (due to go on sale in Europe later this year) is powered by an electric motor with 84kW of power and 300Nm of torque.
Mercedes-Benz says the eVito has a range of 100-150km on a single charge, depending on payload, and a top speed of 120km/h. Charging the 41.4kWh battery pack to full capacity takes around six hours.
Whether or not both the eVito and the eSprinter make their way Down Under is still unclear. However, a Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesperson told CarAdvice late last year: “We expect there to be significant interest in both Australia and New Zealand. We already regularly receive enquiries about electric vans from major fleet companies who are looking to improve efficiency and sustainability in their operations.
“Initially only one electric van was planned, but now both Sprinter and Vito will be available, which only strengthens the potential and our interest in launching locally.”