As experts in refrigerated vans and specialist commercial vehicles, we like to stay up to date with industry trends and new releases. If you’ve been following our recent blog posts, you’ll have noticed that electric vans have been a particularly hot topic for us recently. This week, we’re looking at one of the latest offerings from Mercedes. The global manufacturer is currently pursuing an ongoing strategy of releasing every one of their commercial vans as an electric variant, and the Mercedes eSprinter is the latest example of their commitment to this goal.
There’s been a lot of fanfare about Mercedes’ latest offering, the eSprinter. Equipped with an electric powertrain, this mid-size high-roof panel van has been available to order for a number of months now. It’s currently still in prototype form, but it’s likely to undergo only very minor changes (if any at all) before production models go on sale in 2019. Its relatively short range indicates its design as a model suited primarily for urban driving, navigating inner-city traffic in areas like Manchester or Preston.
One of the most notable features about the eSprinter is the flexibility that it offers customers, in the form of a choice of battery capacities. Models can be specified with either three battery packs or four, which then affects other important factors like their range, payload and recharge rate.
The eSprinter’s battery pack feeds an electric motor with an output of 84kW, with a torque of up to 300 newton metres. This gives the Mercedes eSprinter the capability of limited top speeds of 80km/h (50mph) to maximise its range, or 120 km/h (75mph) if time is more of a factor. The eSprinter is available in two options; either a three-battery pack option or a four-battery pack. The options most preferable for customers will depend on their individual requirements.
Four-battery pack option
The four-battery pack is the most favoured option amongst customers who use their vehicles over longer distances, but rarely load them all the way up to their top payload limit. The battery pack allows the eSprinter a capacity of 55kWh, giving it a maximum range of 150km (93 miles). This is applicable even under unfavourable conditions such as low ambient temperatures or full loads.
The trade-off, however, is a slightly reduced payload; around 900kg. There’s also a slightly longer recharge time associated with this option, though the emphasis is on ‘slight’. The batteries can be fully charged (from flat) in 8 hours at a charge column or wallbox with a maximum power of 7.2kW, as opposed to the 6 hours of the three-battery pack option.
Three-battery pack option
The three-battery pack option, meanwhile, is ideal for customers where range is of some concern, but payload capacity is the priority. It offers 41 kWh of capacity, making the range of the Mercedes eSprinter about 115km (71 miles). That slightly shorter range allows the payload to increase from 140kg, to a total of 1040kg. As we touched on above, the charging time for this option is about 6 hours from flat.
It’s worth noting that for both options, the eSprinter can be connected to a rapid charger more than once a day, before then being hooked up to slower 7 kWh overnight charges, without there being any related adverse effects. Once connected to a fast charger, 80% of the battery capacity (for either battery pack option) can be refilled in under an hour – offering the potential to be smartly synched with a driver’s lunch break.
So is there an issue with the eSprinter’s range?
The performance figures released to date demonstrate that the standard Sprinter and the eSprinter are eye-to-eye, currently. Though it obviously can’t compete for overall mileage with diesel engine Sprinters, it’s worth remembering that Mercedes’ own research shows that most vans across Europe have a typical daily requirement to cover less than 60 miles. Ultimately then, for the eSprinter’s intended purpose (inner-city traffic and close-range deliveries), both its ranges are likely to be more than sufficient for the majority of its target market. Certainly those of our own customers in the catering & food service or local ice cream sectors are likely to find the refrigerated version useful.
It’s also important to think of the bigger picture. Since the eSprinter is designed to be most efficient in cities, it offers significant cost savings in terms of running costs and emissions regulations – as is the case with many modern electric vans currently being brought to market.
The gross vehicle weight of the eSprinter is 3500kg (3.5 tonnes). As is the case with its diesel equivalents, the battery pack is stored under the floor, which brings its maximum load capacity to 10.5m3. As we’ve already mentioned, the exact payload varies depending on which battery pack option customers choose, ranging from 900kg to 1040kg.
One of the other aspects of the eSprinter currently getting the most attention is the heating and cooling of the cabin. Specifically, the interior can be pre-conditioned (whether that means making it warmer or cooler) while it’s still plugged in before the day’s jobs begin. This only uses about 1.5 kWh of electricity, leaving the driving range untouched while significantly improving driver comfort and satisfaction. Additionally, the driver can also make use of the eSprinter’s heated seat and steering wheel.
Currently, we don’t quite know. As you’d expect, Mercedes are being quite tight-lipped on the exact costs involved. So far, they’ve only indicated that the total cost of ownership will be equal to that of a diesel Sprinter within the first three years of running. Some speculations therefore put the eSprinter roughly in the £45,000 to £50,000 range, but again, we can’t be entirely sure right now!
Here at CoolKit, we’ve been collaborating with vehicle manufacturers for several years, using our specialist engineering skills to create effective refrigerated conversions on existing electric vans. While Mercedes look to broaden their own horizons with by expanding their offering of electric variants on their time-honoured vehicles, equally here at CoolKit we look forward to building on these new vehicles, ultimately offering our customers refrigerated conversions in the form of refrigerated vans and freezer vehicles.
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