Cargo & People Hauling To Became Cleaner in 2019
Mercedes-Benz pulled the covers off its new Sprinter van line this week at the company’s logistics center on the Mercator Island in Duisburg, Germany. In addition to the usual diesel- and gasoline-powered models, the truck and carmaker Daimler revealed an all-electric Mercedes-Benz eSprinter. The eSpritner goes on sale in Europe in 2019 and will be offered eventually in the U.S., said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Few Electric Drivetrain Details
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter will be front-wheel drive only and at this point Mercedes says the new van will have a 41.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack and a driving range of around 100 miles. The exact specifications could change before the vehicle comes to market, including the battery size.
It’s a big electric box
According to Mercedes, the pairing of the electric battery with dedicated front-wheel drive lowers the load floor by 80mm and may end up as a slightly lighter drivetrain. Both low load floors and lighter vehicle weight are important factors not only for fleet purchasers, but for the drivers who end up running delivery routes in them.
Mercedes says the eSprinter will primarily be used in large metropolitan areas, where range isn’t critical, but emissions are. European cities like London, where electric-vehicles are exempt from a congestion charge, will likely make the electric van a popular choice for small and large trucking fleets. Mercedes says operating an eSprinter will cost about the same as a diesel-powered Sprinter. These electric vans can be tailored for specific payload requirements.
In Profile, Still A Sprinter Van
The 2019 Sprinter van’s exterior hasn’t changed much since its 1995 introduction. In profile, the new third-generation model remains with its boxy design, but the front and rear have some nips and tucks to look fresher. Of note, the new look up front adapts the latest Mercedes design direction that applies to both its latest vans and passenger cars.
The Sprinter dash ups the tech quotient
Inside, the story is much the same. That means the Sprinter retains its durable, everything-is-hard plastic. But changes were made to bring the van into the 21st century, such as incorporating the display screen into a semi-floating part of the dashboard that tilts upward. There’s also a plethora of storage from under-seat cubbies to large slots and bins on the dashboard. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mercedes-Benz without door-mounted seat controls.
It’s not known what tech gear will be offered on the eSprinter when it arrives, but the standard van is lousy with new=fangled tech, whether it’s intended for driver convenience, safety or the fleet company.
In terms of safety equipment, the Sprinter’s tried-and-true Crosswind Assist system returns to help mitigate the effects strong wind has on a slab-sided van. Distronic will guide the van in its lane on the highway, keeping distance between the Sprinter and any traffic ahead. It’ll brake on its own if something gets in the way, and traffic-sign recognition will help drivers navigate unfamiliar areas.
The Sprinter will come in several different configurations
LED headlights will keep the road ahead nice and bright, while a new “Wet Wiper” system puts the wiper fluid nozzles inside the wiper arms for better dispersal and less spray-related mess. USB Type C connections allow you to charge devices at amperages up to 1.5A, but there’s a traditional 12-volt port in there, too, if you need that.
The infotainment screen can display both the backup camera and a top-down view of the world around the van when navigating gets a little tight.
Speaking of infotainment, the Sprinter can also be optioned with Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX infotainment system. With a 10.25-inch screen, MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) brings new connectivity to the table thanks to a new digital assistant that understands natural-language requests like, “I’m cold” or “The gas tank is empty.” Paired with the MBUX system is the new Mercedes Pro internet connectivity system. It connects customers to help with efficient fleet management, improved navigation, analysis of driving style, digitalized recording and remote vehicle operations.
Regular Sprinter vans will arrive in the U.S. before the end of this year and will be offered for the first time with a gasoline engine in addition to diesel engines. It will have configurations that work for nearly every commercial van use as well as serve as a recreational vehicle platform. It will come as a regular cab—the most popular body for a delivery van—as well as a crew cab.
As for the eSprinter, we’ll just have to wait (hopefully not too long) for details.
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For the most part, anyone interested in electric vehicle (EV) technology has been focused on the evolution of passenger vehicles. Automakers like Tesla and GM have been front and center, feeling the love for their Model 3 and Bolt EV offerings. But is there another segment of the auto world that should be feeling some EV love? German auto giant Daimler thinks it may have the answer.
Daimler’s Fuso eCanter is the first all-electric truck
Recently, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), part of Daimler Trucks, launched its new Fuso eCanter truck in New York City. According to Daimler, the Fuso eCanter is the world’s first series-produced all-electric medium-duty truck.
When they arrive in North America, eCanter trucks will have a range of about 62 miles and a load capacity of three-and-a-half tons, according to Daimler. The powertrain will draw its power from six high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs with 420V and 13.8 kWh each. The battery packs are built by Daimler’s Accumotive subsidiary.
Compared to Diesel
According to Daimler, in comparison with a conventional diesel truck, eCanter trucks offer savings of up to €1,000 ($1,182) per 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) on operating costs. In addition to North America, eCanter trucks will be sold in Europe and Japan. While Daimler is only planning to produce about 500 trucks in the next year, it intends to start higher-volume production by 2019.
First on the list to buy three eCanter trucks is the United Parcel Service (UPS). Daimler is also offering eight of its trucks to New York City-based non-profits, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the New York Botanical Garden, Habitat for Humanity New York City, and Big Reuse Brooklyn.
Trucks can plug in, too, now
“Our new Fuso eCanter now addresses the increasing global demand for products to meet and exceed high CO2 emission standards,” said Marc Llistosella, president and CEO MFTBC and head of Daimler Trucks Asia. “It offers an attractive and cost-effective alternative to combustion engines and makes electric trucks key to the future of inner city distribution.”
In fact, electrified commercial vehicles have been a hot topic this past year. With the launch of all-electric vans from Chinese-backed California startup Chanje; Tesla’s announcement that they will build a fully electric long-haul semi; and diesel engine maker Cummins announcing that it will starting offering an electric powertrain option; there seems to be a general consensus that demand for electrified commercial vehicles is out there. And then there are the fuel cell electric trucks like Toyota’s prototype.
Despite being called “cost-effective,” pricing for eCanter trucks is still vague, but should be clarified sometime next year.
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Another Manufacturer Joins Electric Car Racing Series
Mercedes is ditching the roar of four-liter fire-breathing V-8 engines for the hum and whine of electric motors. This isn’t a new product announcement (though they’re doing that, too), but it is related to future products. Daimler, Mercedes-Benz parent company, announced this week that it is pulling out of DTM racing, where it competes on mainly European tracks against its German luxury car rivals. The motorsports efforts will migrate starting in season six (2019/20) of the Formula E electric car racing series.
The roar of the gas V-8 will be replaced by electric motor whine
Patterned after the high-end Formula 1 series (in which Mercedes also competes), with which it shares a governing board, Formula E currently consists of 20 cars from 10 teams using standardized battery packs and cars. Over the years participants have gradually been allowed more innovations on their powertrains, something the race series has promised to open up even more in the coming years.
That is part of the attraction for Daimler, which has announced the launch of its electric EQ sub-brand. “Formula E is a significant step in order to demonstrate the performance of our attractive battery-powered electric vehicles under the EQ technology brand,” said Dr. Jens Thiemer, vice president of marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars. “It is time to start a new path.”
The race commitment will mean Mercedes is joining Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Renault among major automakers already in the series. Given two German luxury marques are already involved, the Mercedes move should be looked at as almost a forgone conclusion.
Part of the Launch of the EQ Label
“Mercedes-Benz will market future battery powered electric vehicles using the EQ label,” explained Thiemer. “Formula E (gives) an emotional spin to our EQ technology brand through motorsport and marketing.”
Toto Wolff, managing partner of both the Formula 1 and Formula E teams, views Formula E as a brand new form of racing that reflects a rapidly changing automotive landscape.
Expect to see the Mercedes-Benz EQ brand in Formula E
“In motorsport like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects,” he said. “The combination of Formula 1 and Formula E delivers that. Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture: it offers a brand new format, combining racing with a strong event character, in order to promote current and future technologies. Electrification is happening in the road car world and Formula E offers manufacturers an interesting platform to bring this technology to a new audience – and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series.”
It’s clear that Mercedes will be spending the next two seasons scoping out the competition and planning to make its entry in a forceful way. Given its track record in Formula 1 and DTM, in motorsports “the best or nothing” translates into a quest for trophies.
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