Electric vehicles are unarguably the future of the commercial vehicle industry here in the UK. You may have seen our recent post reviewing the Mercedes eSprinter van, its capabilities and what it can offer to our customers. Alongside the eSprinter, the Mercedes eVito van has recently been featured heavily in industry press. As experts in refrigerated vans here at CoolKit, we’ve now taken the opportunity to take an in-depth look at the eVito too, assessing its various specs and capabilities so that you can decide whether or not it’s really worth buying for your business. So then, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
As with all commercial electric vans, this is going to be the key figure that most fleet operators and van drivers are going to look at first. 93 miles isn’t a massive distance, and in the vast majority of cases it’ll limit the Mercedes eVito to short-range operations in tight confines. It’ll excel in a role as a last-mile delivery courier in a city centre, for example, but it’s unlikely to be a top candidate for many cross-country journeys. What’s more, the increasing emissions restrictions in many city centres – such as the Ultra Low Emissions Zone – means that it probably won’t be too long, relatively speaking, before electric vans start to crowd diesel vehicles out of these environments entirely.
According to research carried out by Mercedes, most vans across Europe cover less than 60 miles a day. That means the range, while limited, isn’t likely to pose a problem for most operators. It’s still more than sufficient providing the eVito is used as part of a well-managed fleet. Market analysts predict that operators such as large retail supermarkets are using fully electric fridge vans for urban journeys and petrol or diesel variants for anything further afield.
The Mercedes eVito utilises a trio of lithium ion batteries weighing 125kg, with a total capacity of 41.4kWh. With the most commonplace Type-2 connection, the eVito will generally take about 6 hours to charge overnight. It’s worth noting that it can be hooked up to a quicker ‘rapid charger’ more than once per day without any issues, before then being connected back onto the slower overnight feed. The rapid charge should replenish about 80% of the battery capacity in a speedy 45 minutes – more than sufficient for a quick lunch break.
Right now, the eVito is available in the Vito van’s Long and Extra Long body styles, with a load volume of 6.0 and 6.6 cubic metres, respectively. The batteries are installed under the floor, so no sacrifice has been made in terms of the capacity. That’s always welcome news to fleet operators!
The payload is still rated at over one tonne for both variants: the maximum payload for the Long variant is 1073kg, while the maximum payload for the Extra Long is 1048kg. The gross vehicle weight, meanwhile, is 3.2 tonnes.
Obviously for van drivers, this is the million dollar question! In a word: quiet. It’s much more discreet than a diesel Vito with an automatic gearbox, but otherwise isn’t that dissimilar to drive. It’s certainly rapid off the mark, with decent acceleration. It feels quicker than the Vito diesel, but with broadly the same output.
The drive is engaged with the use of Mercedes’ familiar column-mounted lever. One key feature of the driving experience to take note of is the pair of paddles behind the steering wheel. Essentially, these increase or decrease the amount of energy recuperation by the electric drive train. They range through D++, D+, D and D-, with the final one being the default setting.
D- is the most efficient setting. If you’re using it, you hardly need to touch the brake pedal, really. Simply lifting off the accelerator automatically engages the brakes, for maximum ease and efficiency in urban environments. At the other end of the scale, lifting off in D++ means that the vehicle comfortably rolls along when you lift off the throttle. This will obviously all be up to the discretion of the driver, but it’s certainly useful to bear in mind.
It’ll certainly be more expensive than the diesel eVito – but you likely expected that already. The UK prices haven’t been explicitly revealed as of the time of writing, but based around the German price of €39,990, they’re likely to be around the £35,000 to £40,000 mark (not including VAT).
However, the initial costs aren’t the be-all end-all. Charging the eVito will cost less than refilling the diesel’s fuel tank, which will balance out the costs over a longer period. On top of that, the maintenance costs will also be lower, because there are fewer moving parts that will need servicing. The batteries have an eight-year, 62,500-mile warranty.
The LED headlamps, tail lights and active safety systems like adaptive cruise control will all remain optional, so operators won’t find themselves having to bear any unnecessary costs.
According to reviewers, the eVito is likely to make for a freezer van with a bit of a frosty reputation into the winter months. Keeping the cab warm on a winter’s day will demand a lot of energy, especially if the driver is making regular stops to get in and out of the van. Ultimately, this has the potential to reduce the all-important range of an electric fridge or freezer van, so it’s worth bearing in mind. There is a heat pump on board, but this will again sap valuable energy. In order to preserve the range, we recommend you use the heat pump to precondition the cab in the mornings, before the van is taken off charge.
It’ll be interesting to see the sort of future that the eVito and other electric vehicles like it shape for our commercial vehicle industry here in the UK. Here at CoolKit, we’re certainly keen on doing our own part. Innovation is one of our core values, and we’re always looking to proactively broaden the scope of our offering to customers. We pride ourselves on using our specialist engineering skills to build on market-leading designs, offering our customers the ultimate in refrigerated conversions and refrigerated vans and new freezer vehicles.
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