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PHOTO CAPTION: It looks like a conventional Vito van -- except for the plug

Mercedes Announces a For-Real Electric Van

Mercedes-Benz is manufacturing its own electric van.

Published: 10-Feb-2010

Written by: Martin Schwoerer

Based on recent history, one might be forgiven for thinking that Mercedes is only interested in zero-emission technology when it involves collecting funds for Hydrogen boondoggles. But on Tuesday, Mercedes announced it has actually developed something that has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life of people who live in cities.

Premiering to an audience of European economics ministers at the Basque city of San Sebastian, Daimler unveiled the prototype of a battery-powered van based on the Mercedes-Benz Vito. The van which might have been named after a minor figure in a Mafia movie is the world’s first with electric drive system ex factory. That means, it is not a vehicle that is converted to electric propulsion after leaving the factory in Vitoria, Spain; instead, Mercedes installs the Lithium-ion battery system on the assembly line.

The battery-powered Vito will enter low-volume production in 2010. During 2010, around 100 Mercedes-Benz Vito vans will be delivered to 20 customers, primarily fleet operators and public institutions. The customers will be able to transport items in environmentally sensitive zones with zero emissions, including no CO2 emissions, and low noise. Deployment scenarios therefore typically involve short distances and making many stops in urban areas.

With an operating voltage of 400 V, 16 A current and an available capacity of 32 kWh, the Vito’s range averages 130 km. The peak output of the electric motor is 90 kW; the topc speed is limited electronically to 80 km/h. Mercedes says there is no loss in terms of payload or load volume compared to a conventionally powered Vito as a load capacity in excess of 900 kg is possible.

Mercedes plans to make 2,000 units of the electric Vito "in the near future", which one would hope would be within the decade, since logistics, staff training and production technology are receiving financial support from the regional Basque government.

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