Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will produce a fully electric version of its popular Sprinter van in North America and Europe from the second half of 2023.
The Mercedes eSprinter will have a large 113 kWh battery that rests under the floor between the axle, giving the van an estimated range of 400 km on highways and 500 km in the city, based on the European WLTP standard. (The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is more conservative in predicting EV range.) No word yet on an MSRP for the van.
The van will enter production later this year at Mercedes’ Charleston, South Carolina, plant, which could make the eSprinter eligible for the $7,500 EV tax credit. The van will also go into production at the company’s German factories in Ludwigsfelde and Düsseldorf. The automaker has said it won’t sell electric vehicles until after 2030.
The Mercedes eSprinter will have a large 113 kWh battery under the floor
There has been a shortage of consumer electric vans in the pipeline in recent years, with most automakers turning their focus to more popular segments such as crossovers, trucks and SUVs. But that looks set to change, as Mercedes’ eSprinter will join the likes of the Volkswagen ID Buzz and an electric version of the Ram ProMaster when it’s released.
Like the Ford E-Transit and BrightDrop Zevo, the Mercedes eSprinter seems tailor-made for delivery operations. But unlike those vans, the eSprinter can also be repurposed for non-commercial use — such as for anyone interested in embracing a nomadic lifestyle, as popularized by influencers using the #vanlife hashtag.
Or, as Mathias Geisen, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, puts it: the eSprinter is “the most versatile Mercedes-Benz eVan ever”.
The inclusion of a larger battery is more evidence that Mercedes hopes to target customers outside of the commercial delivery space. But for those looking to employ this van to deliver packages, the eSprinter offers 488 cubic feet (13.8 cubic meters) of cargo space, equivalent to the Ford E-Transit’s 487 cubic feet, but significantly larger than the 138 cubic feet of the ID Buzz. 3.9 cubic meters) of space.
Still, range is what could give the eSprinter an edge over its competitors. Ford’s E-Transit only manages 125 miles, while BrightDrop’s Zevo recently set a record for the longest electric van journey at 160 miles. Even if the EPA gives it a rating of less than 311 miles, the eSprinter still looks pretty competitive.
The inclusion of a larger battery is more evidence that Mercedes hopes to target customers outside of the commercial delivery space
Mercedes says the van’s software will connect to a cloud-based “digital ecosystem,” which is another way of saying it’s eligible for over-the-air updates. The eSprinter will be built on top of the automaker’s eATS powertrain, marking the first time Mercedes has offered a rear-axle motor for an electric van. The motor is available in two power levels, with a peak power of 100 kW or 150 kW, and delivers a torque of up to 400 Nm.
The eSprinter is capable of both AC and DC charging, with a built-in 9.3kW charger to assist with AC charging. At a DC fast-charging station, the eSprinter can accept a maximum charge rate of 115 kW, which should take the battery from 10 to 80 percent in about 42 minutes.
The infotainment system comes standard with MBUX, the automaker’s voice-activated system, which was previously only available in Mercedes passenger cars. This latest version of the software includes dynamic route planning that takes load stops, traffic and topography into account when planning navigation.
As Mercedes’ first electric van aimed at the North American market and the first product aimed at general consumers, the eSprinter stands out. The company has been making an electric Sprinter and a commercial electric van called eVito for several years now, but only for customers in Europe.
It’s especially interesting coming just months after Mercedes said its partnership with buzzy EV company Rivian would be suspended. Rivian, which makes its EDV (electric van) for Amazon and other customers, was reportedly concerned about spending a lot of money on an expensive new vehicle development project in a slowing economy.