In the world of electric vehicles, it’s not all motorbikes and subcompact cars. As regular readers would know, battery-powered SUVs, mid-sized cars and even sportscars have already started appearing on showroom floors or are in development. Commercial vehicles, however, have been a little thinner on the ground. As we reported in February, Mercedes-Benz is doing its bit to rectify this with its new Vito E-CELL, and more details are now filtering through as the vehicle moves closer to production.
Mercedes-Benz says the Vito E-Cell will be significantly less expensive to operate than a Vito powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE), with such a vehicle incurring four to seven times the costs of a Vito E-CELL recharged overnight with low-priced off-peak power.
In place of the usual four and six-cylinder engines plus peripheral units of the Vito, the engine cover of the Vito E-CELL conceals the electric motor and its ancillary systems. The electric motor, a permanent synchronous unit, develops a continuous output of 60 kW and a peak output of 70 kW. Maximum torque is 280 Nm. Power is transferred to the front wheels via a single speed transmission.
The electric motor reaches its greatest efficiency at around 30 degrees Celsius (86F) so the batteries, electric motor, converter and other electrical components are water-cooled.
The Vito E-CELL van comes with a heatable driver’s seat, multifunction steering wheel, heatable and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors and a reversing camera with monitor as standard.
To demonstrate that the electric van on its way to series production and not an experimental vehicle or a prototype, the Vito E-CELL will be produced on the same lines, together with all the other Vito models, in its Vitoria plant.
Mercedes-Benz will deliver 100 Vito E-CELL vans to customers between August and December this year. Half each will be taken into operation in Berlin and Stuttgart, and further units will be used in the Basque region of Spain early next year. These customer trials for the Vito E-CELL are scheduled for four years and roughly 80,000 km per vehicle, after which the 100 vans will be returned to Mercedes-Benz. A further 2,000 units are already planned from 2011.
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