Cargo vans have, for years, been finding their place in beverage fleets for light delivery and field sales applications. It’s no surprise that they’re becoming a popular target for electrification, and some of the top OEMs have either released commercial electric vans in the past couple of years or recently have announced plans to do so in the very near future.
Mercedes-Benz, which already deploys its eSprinter in European markets, has yet to bring it to the U.S. market. However, parent company Daimler AG late last year hinted, in an Automotive News interview, that it plans to do so as early as 2023.
Mercedes Benz Vans last year announced a 350-million-euro investment in its proprietary Electric Versatility Platform, which will be the technical basis for the next-generation eSprinter. The core elements of the new e-drive system are three modules that enable the greatest flexibility in the design and development of different body types, the company says. The modules will allow for eSprinter body configurations that were only previously available with combustion engines.
As Mercedes Benz Vans leads the electric vehicle market in Europe, with a share of about 30% of the midsize and large vans segment across the continent, Daimler’s “Ambition 2039” initiative, aims to realize fully carbon dioxide-neutral transportation in the next 18 years, the company notes.
In May, Ford opened a registration site for customers to register their intention to buy the new all-electric Ford E-Transit van. The electrified version of the Ford Transit will be built alongside its non-electric counterpart at the company’s Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant. Ford notes that its data shows that about 70% of the U.S. van business will be electric by 2030.
The E-Transit design was based on insight from 30 million miles of customer telematics data showing that the average commercial van drives 74 miles a day, Ford notes. The low-roof E-Transit cargo van, with a usable battery capacity of 67-kilowatt hours, has a targeted driving range of 126 miles. Ford also projects that scheduled maintenance costs during the course of eight years/100,000 miles to be 40% less than for the gas-power version. Interested customers can signify intent/interest in the E-Transit on Ford’s registration site at Fleet.Ford.com.
GM also is making a significant push into the van space. At the beginning of 2021, the automotive giant announced the launch of a new business unit, BrightDrop, which aims to offer “an ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products, software and services to empower delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently,” the company says.
BrightDrop’s second product to market — following the launch of a propulsion-assisted, electric pallet known as the EP1 — will be the EV600, lightweight, purpose-built cargo van with a high-voltage Ultium battery designed to enable routes of up to 250 miles. It also will offer a peak DC fast-charging rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charging.
Because of the space efficiency of the Ultium battery, BrightSpot says it’s been able to maximize cargo space to more than 600 cubic feet, for an available 2,200 pounds of estimated payload capacity. It also offers a number of safety features, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, optional rear pedestrian alert, HD rear-vision camera, front and rear park assist and optional blind zone steering assist. The EV600 is built with lightweight materials to help provide a reliable driving range and features a regenerative braking system.
It’s official that electric delivery now is happening in all shapes and sizes.