Mercedes took the wraps off its all-new electric eSprinter van today and we like what we see. The second-generation plug-in cargo hauler is better in every regard than the previous version, and, surprisingly, it's coming to US and Canadian markets before Europe. North American deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of 2023.
The first generation eSprinter was launched in 2019 and is still offered in select European markets with two battery options, a 41 kWh battery with 71 miles of WLTP-rated driving range, and a 55 kWh pack with 93 miles of WLTP-rated range. Mercedes never offered the eSprinter in North America as the limited range really handcuffed its usefulness for anything other than short, urban delivery tasks.
Last November, without releasing any of the vehicle's specifications, Mercedes shared the results of an officially-monitored efficiency test completed by the new eSprinter. Under TÜV SÜD supervision, a Mercedes employee was able to drive the new eSprinter from Stuggart to Munich and back, covering a total of 295 miles (475 km). When they arrived back in Stuggart, the van still had three percent state of charge remaining.
We speculated at the time the new eSprinter's battery pack must have a usable capacity of at least 110 kWh. We were pretty close, as we now know the usable capacity is 113 kWh. That's more than twice the size of the largest battery pack option offered in the current eSprinter.
While Mercedes didn't offer any EPA-range estimates, they did provide WLTP estimates of 400 km (248.5 mi) combined, and 500 kilometers (311 mi) using the WLTP city cycle. We would expect EPA range figures to be roughly 12% to 14% less, based on our observations of the average conversion of existing models.
The 113 kWh battery pack will be the only offering for the North American market, initially at least, but smaller pack options will be available when the vehicle becomes available in Europe. The pack's cell chemistry is lithium/iron phosphate (LFP). Therefore, the battery doesn't use any nickel or cobalt, which is a controversial mineral due to controversial mining methods in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But range alone doesn't determine how useful an electric vehicle can be, particularly one that's built for business. How quickly you can recharge the vehicle and get it back into service can also be considered paramount.
The eSprinter will come standard with a 40-amp onboard charger capable of accepting 9.6 kW from a 240-v level 2 charging source. That should be good enough to replenish the eSprinter's battery at the depot overnight in most use cases.
If it's not, the eSprinter comes standard with 50 kW DC fast charging. For those customers that have the highest usage and charging demands, 115 kW DC fast charging is optional, which will replenish the battery from 10% to 80% in 42 minutes.
With the new eSprinter, we are taking the electric large van segment to a new level. The triad of efficiency, range and load capacity with simultaneous TCO optimization makes the new eSprinter the most versatile Mercedes-Benz eVan ever. - Mathias Geisen, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans
There's also an all-new thermal management system with higher efficiency with pre-conditioning options for both the battery and the cabin. Operators will enjoy the latest Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) with the latest software. The new software is faster, offers extensive personalization options, and employs the "Hey Mercedes" voice control assistant.
Gallery: 2023 Mercedes eSprinter
The eSprinter's Electric Powertrain (eATS)
The eSprinter's new electric powertrain, dubbed eATS by Mercedes is comprised of two main components, the ultra-efficient motor and the innovative electric rear axle, both of which are being employed for the first time in an electric Mercedes van.
The lightweight permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) weighs only 286 lbs and is highly efficient and optimized for thermal management. The motor is available in two power levels; with 134 hp (100 kW) and 201 (150 kW), and delivers a torque of up to 295 lb-ft (400 nm) to the rear wheels. There will not be an all-wheel-drive option, at least initially.
The eSprinter can haul up to 488 cu-ft of cargo and has a maximum payload of 2,624 lbs.
Mercedes has invested about $375 million (350 million euros) in the all-new second-generation eSprinter. It will also invest close to $53 million (50 million euros) in each of the three eSprinter manufacturing plants located in Charleston, South Carolina, and Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde Germany to adjust the lines for eSprinter production.
Pricing for the eSprinter will be announced closer to the vehicle's launch in the second half of this year. We also don't have any projected production figures, but if Mercedes can manage to scale up production quickly, they could get a sizeable piece of the pie in the electric van segment in North America.
Currently, the eSprinter's main electric competition will be the Ford Transit Connect, the Rivian Delivery Van, and the BrightDrop electric van. The E-Transit is currently the only offering that is available to retail customers. However, it has a small, 68 kWh battery and an EPA-range rating of only 126 miles per charge. The short driving range really limits its usefulness.
The offerings from Rivian and BrightDrop appear to be only available to large fleet operators like Amazon, DHL, Walmart, FedEx, Hertz, and Verizon. Therefore, Mercedes has the opportunity to capture a large swath of the small and medium-sized business market if the price is reasonable and it has the capacity to produce enough eSprinters to meet what will most likely be solid demand.
2024 Mercedes eSprinter