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Mercedes-Benz Introduces Vito E-CELL Electric Van in Limited Series Production

Vitoecell
The Vito E-CELL van. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz is introducing the Vito E-CELL electric van. Production of a small series of 100 Vito E-CELL vans has already begun, and a further 2,000 units are planned from 2011. The van, targeted for inner-city operations and for particularly environmentally sensitive areas, is based on the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz Vito with a standard roof. The long wheelbase of 3200 mm provides the necessary underbody space for the traction batteries.

With an operating range of around 130 km (81 miles), the Vito E-CELL meets average customer requirements for a daily van mileage of approx. 50-80 km (31-50 miles). Payload is around 900 kg (1,984 lbs) depending on equipment specifications, and the van has a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), making it also suitable for short inter-urban stretches.

Vitoecell2
The Vito E-CELL. Click to enlarge.

The Vito E-CELL is propelled by a permanent synchronous electric motor that develops a continuous output of 60 kW and a peak output of 70 kW. Maximum torque is 280 N·m (207 lb-ft). As the full torque is inherently available right from the start in electric motors, the Vito E-CELL delivers performance at the familiar level of modern diesel engines.

Power is transferred to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission developed specifically for the Vito E-CELL.

To save installation space for the batteries, and in contrast to the other models in the Vito series, the vehicle has front-wheel drive. With the exception of a few suspension components adopted from the Vito 4x4, the front-wheel drive system was specially developed for the Vito E-CELL.

Vitoecell3
Motor and power electronics are packaged under the hood. Click to enlarge.

In addition to the electric motor, other components such as the power electronics, transformer and the grid charging unit are accommodated beneath the engine cover. The 12 V onboard network was also completely newly developed.

The Li-ion batteries are housed under the load compartment floor, where the propshaft and fuel tank are usually located in the Vito. The batteries feature high performance and load capacity, a high energy density and a nominal voltage of 360 volts. Total capacity of the battery pack is 36 kWh, of which 32 kWh (89%) are available to power the vehicle.

The battery pack of the Vito E-CELL consists of 16 modules with a total of 192 cells, each cell being monitored by a battery management system. To avoid unnecessary power losses and the risk of damage caused by unauthorized persons when the vehicle is parked, a safety system (“Watchdog”) deactivates the high-voltage network when not in use.

The batteries, electric motor, converter and other electrical components of the drive system are water-cooled. For driver comfort during the colder months of the year, the Vito E-CELL is equipped with a heater booster. This is connected to the high-voltage network and the standard heating circuit in the instrument panel.

The batteries are charged at charging stations provided to the pilot customers by the two energy providers EnBW and Vattenfall. These companies are participating in the customer trials as cooperation partners in the Berlin (Vattenfall) and Stuttgart (EnBW) regions. The charging stations are installed on the business premises of the fleets involved. The charging socket of the Vito E-CELL is connected to the station using a standard seven-pin charging cable.

The batteries of the Vito E-CELL are charged at 380/400 volts; the onboard chargers have an output of 6.1 kW. Charging takes a maximum of six hours if the batteries are fully discharged. Using an additional charging cable with a conventional domestic power plug, the Vito E-CELL can also be charged from the 230 volt mains if required. In this case the charging time is doubled, however.

The batteries are also charged by energy recuperation while on the move, i.e. by regenerative braking, on the overrun and when reducing speed. All this is in interaction with the new ESP system.

The Vito E-CELL features a Smart Charge Communication Unit (SCCU) as standard, enabling smart charging. The charging units can be individually set at the multifunction steering wheel and in the instrument cluster to charge for times when low-cost electrical power is available. This can also be done centrally on a PC by the scheduler. The SCCU also allows parallel charging of several vehicles in a fleet, without overloading the grid.

Vehicle availability can also be calculated depending on the charge status of the batteries. A scheduler is able to call up the charge status and therefore the available operating range of the Vito E-CELL on a computer screen, and determine whether a particular van is able to carry out an additional assignment at short notice.

More than a dozen Vito E-CELL vans have undergone extended test drives both on enclosed test tracks and on the roads.

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.

Although all densely populated, these areas not only differ in size but also in topographical terms, ensuring different operating conditions and therefore additional findings. Initial customers are predominantly fleet operators.

The customer trials for the Vito E-CELL are scheduled for four years and roughly 80,000 km (49,700 miles) per vehicle, after which the 100 vans will be returned to Mercedes-Benz. For this reason the customers are not purchasing their vehicles, but rather renting and financing them by paying a monthly user charge which also includes all the servicing for the Vito E-CELL.

Ideally the 100 Vito E-CELL vans will cover a total of around eight million kilometers (4.97 million miles) in roughly one dozen fleets during the customer trials, providing data and experience to support the further development of electric drive systems in light commercial vehicles.

In parallel with the practical trials, Mercedes-Benz will evaluate data such as route profiles, operating ranges and other parameters in order to tailor electrically powered vehicles even more precisely to customer requirements.

Comments

Mr Rudi O'Neil

I think that the new E-CELL is a fantastic thing to see on the roads of Britain, and indeed on roads in general. If you take the amount of money that companies have to pay in fuel these days, and the amount of small haulage companies that have gone bust because of no other reason than this, then the development of things like EV and smartgrid technology, especially having the capacity to make money via the process of sending charges back into the grid, and also as well too, charging at off-peak times. Add to this the fact that eventually we may be making electricity with sustainable energy such as windfarms, and you have a future that actually looks a little bit bright. 

SJC

This looks a bit like a Ford Econoline van from the past. Ford, GM and Chrysler could have built something like this, but did not. I think people like to see progress on clean delivery vehicles. They see them when they are driving, they might like it that they are cleaner, more quiet and use domestic energy.

Ziv

Ford has the Electric Transit in Europe and Azure is working with them to build an American version of it this year. Ford is looking good on the electric front with the Electric Focus coming soon. It isn't the best looking car I have seen, but it sure looks better than the Leaf and has comparable performance.
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/03/business/la-fi-ford-electric4-2010mar04

Davemart

@Xiv,
The focus has sacrificed the boot to cram in the batteries.
It's a kludge, and they would have been far better off basing their electric car offering on the C-Max, which is roomier and so could have retained the boot.

SJC

At least they are doing it. Chrysler had the EPIC electric minivan in the 90s that did well using NiMH. It seems like people were working on ZEV until the administration changed hands.

Davemart

AFAIK the Ford Connect is fine, and they haven't hopelessly compromised the load space to fit in the batteries.
What's unclear though is whether anyone will be able to live with the pace of Nissan/Renault as they build their battery production up to 550,000 units.
Their vans should be formidable competition.

van_pire

Hi,

Do you want to see a test drive in the new Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell? Just click on the link below
http://www.myvan.com/2010/08/04/a-test-drive-in-the-new-vito-e-cell/

Driverguy7

I believe Mercedes stock is going to skyrocket. Here's why. "Litroenergy Power Cell" batteries. Take radioactive tritium, add glowing phosporous, roll it into a plastic sheet. It glows for 12 years, ( half life of tritium), actually would only deplete to about 30 percent after 20 years,...
Anyway, make this sheet flexible, and ROLL thin photovoltaic up with it, into "Litroenergy Batteries". IF, the production cost of these two things is around 1.00 per battery, cheaper than current lithium Ion battery. If correct, this lowers the MSRP. The neat thing is, you could drive this vehicle FOR 20 YEARS TO DEPLETE THE BATTERY TO 30 PERCENT OF CHARGE. Nonstop...... No gasoline costs. Lower maintenance costs. No green house gasses. To validate any of this data, google: litrospheres, litroenergy, Michael P.Kohnen. So with this information in mind, do you see why I am bullish on Mercedes Stock? driverguy7.wordpress.com

Account Deleted

The Mercedes-Benz Vito vans are now preferred more than the Volkswagen ones due to the simple reason that they are more sophisticated and refined and also carry the prestigious 3 pointed star on their sloping bonnets. Used Car Prices The van is powered via rear wheel drive and a set of new diesel engines. For 2011, Mercedes-Benz have also introduced their revolutionary BlueEFFICIENCY technology as an option. The varying body styles of the van are Vito panel van, Vito crewbus and the Vito passenger car.

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