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Mercedes-Benz premiering Sprinter E-CELL large van battery-electric prototype

Chassis version of the Sprinter E-CELL prototype. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz is staging the world premier of a Sprinter E-CELL battery-electric van at the 2012 International Motor Show (IAA) for commercial vehicles. The prototype of the Sprinter E-CELL at the IAA is a chassis version with driver’s cab and the middle wheelbase of 3665 mm. The premiere at the IAA will serve as a test of customer reactions before a decision is made about possible series production.

Mercedes-Benz used the expertise gained from the small van Vito E-CELL (earlier post) for the development of the large van Sprinter E-CELL. After beginning deliveries two years ago, approximately 500 Vito E-CELL vehicles are now already in use; the electric van is now available in more than fifteen European countries. The recent introduction of the Vito E-CELL crewbus, which has space to seat seven, increased the vehicle’s potential fields of operation.

The Sprinter E-CELL multiplies the possibilities for electric transport, because it is just as suited to use as a chassis cab as it is for use in conjunction with attachment bodies. This is of particular importance to spacious delivery vans for supplying inner cities, pedestrian precincts, or towns with restricted vehicle access, Mercedes-Benz notes. The Sprinter E-CELL is equally suited to use as a drop-side body with double cab for use in landscape gardening within green zones.

The technology of the Sprinter E-CELL is similar to that of the Vito E-CELL. However, it had to be adapted to the specific characteristics of this weight class as well as to a completely different chassis with rear-wheel drive.

The permanent magnet synchronous motor of the Sprinter E-CELL can reach a constant output of 70 kW (short-term peak output of 100 kW); torque is 220 N·m (162 lb-ft) torque (short-term 270 N·m / 199 lb-ft). The Sprinter E-CELL is powered by two lithium-ion battery packs, each with 93 cells and a combined capacity of 35.2 kWh.

The charger of the Sprinter E-CELL supplies 22 kW at a current of 32 amps. When connected to a 400-volt power source, the batteries can be charged in less than two hours. This considerably extends the possible areas of use of the Sprinter E-CELL, as it does not require time-consuming overnight charging. The battery charging socket is located on the driver’s side, at the bottom of the B pillar instead of the usual tank filler neck.

The developers of the Sprinter E-CELL have made use of synergies within the company: for example, in the Sprinter E-CELL the batteries of the smart electric drive are used.

The top speed of the Sprinter E-CELL is limited to 80 km/h (50 mph) in favor of an extended range. This means it is not only suitable for inner city areas but can also be used for inter-city journeys or short motorway stretches. Its preferred area of use, however, is inner cities and towns. The range was designed with this in mind.

With an NEDC energy consumption of 27 kW/h, the range is approximately 135 km (84 miles). This is sufficient for most uses, as customer tests with the Vito E-CELL have shown. Daily journeys of up to around 100 km (62 miles), as are most common in short-radius distribution, the trades and the service sector, can be completed risk-free by the Sprinter E-CELL.

As the batteries are located in containers between the axles and below the frame, neither the luggage compartment of the closed Sprinter nor its good body-mounting ability are impaired. With a maximum permissible gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tonnes, the payload of the Sprinter E-CELL can be up to 1200 kg, depending on the body. Ground clearance and angle of approach are not restricted.

The Sprinter E-CELL, like every other Sprinter, will be fitted with the newest generation of the ESP Electronic Stability Program with all its functions. In addition there is a high level of protection of the high-voltage power system.

The design of the Sprinter E-CELL is suitable for many other variants: with the long wheelbase, as a double cab and with a number of bodies. There are also the closed versions, equally with a wide variety of bodies. Other weight variants might also be considered.



Euro ranges make EVs more and more viable.


If there was a charging port on the passenger side, an extension cable could be plugged in during curbside delivery stops.  At the stated charging rate, a 20-minute stop could supply enough juice for another 14 miles of range.  Keep up that kind of recharging rate and the truck could run two shifts a day on local deliveries with no threat of running out of power.


Inductive charging would do the job far easier for trucks and buses, as used in Italy.


Induction chargers are also a lot more expensive than a cable with some circuit protection.


Good observations Davemart and E-P.

There is a very strong potential future market for this type of vehicle. Installing priority charging stations (cabled or wireless) adjacent or in front of their regular delivery and pick up loading points should not be a major challenge.

The same would apply to future e-cabs? These already have priority parking places that could be equipped with quick chargers.

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