Mercedes' new 250-mile eSprinter ready to power US electric van life
The all-new Mercedes-Benz eSprinter is here, and it's coming to North America for the first time later this year, bringing up to 249 miles of electric range along with it. Part of Mercedes-Benz Van's plan to electrify its entire lineup, the new eSprinter promises to be a compelling option for businesses that need to venture outside of city centers, as well as around them, and a more practical foundation for electric camper vans built to take on the long road.
Mercedes launched the original eSprinter in 2019 but never offered it on the American market. And with under 100 miles (161 km) of range, it was ill-equipped for much of any US driving beyond city limits, anyway.
The new 2024 eSprinter addresses both those shortcomings. It will launch in the US and Canada before it does in Europe, and it will offer market-leading range for an electric commercial van. The 249-mile (400-km) estimate is based on WLTP standards, and more than doubles the current eSprinter's 98-mile (158-km) WLTP ceiling. In fact, it even surpasses the 226-mile (363-km) range of the smaller EQV midsize electric MPV and 195-mile (314-km) range of the eVito midsize commercial van.
The eSprinter's range might take a big hit when it comes time for EPA testing, but its 113-kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery is more than double the capacity of the current eSprinter's top-tier 55-kWh battery, and much larger than the 68-kWh battery on the eSprinter's closest American competitor, the Ford E-Transit.
To give the eSprinter platform the flexibility it needs to meet the vast diversity of fleet buyer needs, Mercedes constructs it using a three-module architecture. The front end is designed to be uniform across all wheelbase lengths and battery size options, containing the high-voltage electrical components. The central module consists of the battery and housing located under the body between the axles, while the rear module comprises the electric rear axle driven by a 134- or 201-hp (100- or 150-kW) permanent magnet synchronous motor with up to 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque.
The eSprinter will launch in North America with the largest planned 113-kWh LFP battery option for maximum range. That battery can jump from 10 to 80 percent in roughly 42 minutes of DC fast charging, according to Mercedes' estimates.
The eSprinter will be offered in a single 280-in (711-cm) launch configuration with 170-in (432-cm)-long wheelbase, high roof, 488 cubic feet (13.8 cu m) of cargo volume, and a 9,370-lb (4,250-kg) gross vehicle weight rating. The van's MBUX infotainment system will come loaded with the latest software and EV-specific features like navigation with "Electric Intelligence" that develops range estimates based on traffic and topography while recommending the best places to stop for charging along the route. The new van will also include "Hey Mercedes" voice control and Mercedes Me Connect cloud services.
The new eSprinter offers some interesting potential in terms of camper van and small motorhome construction. The Sprinter van may lag well behind the Ford Transit in terms of overall US sales, but it's a very well-respected, oft-preferred camper base option chosen by many camper van manufacturers, custom builders and DIYers. With significantly more range than the Ford E-Transit's 197 mi/317 km WLTP estimate, the eSprinter looks like it should be the de facto choice for US manufacturers and van lifers looking to go electric ... at least until the VW ID. Buzz arrives.
Winnebago, for instance, has more Sprinter-based camper vans and Class C motorhomes in its lineup than Transit models. An eSprinter-based Winnebago eRV3 seems like a natural development that could add a little range and prestige to the brand's ongoing electrification project.
The American eSprinter will launch in the second half of 2023, with the European version to follow before year-end. Mercedes has invested €350 million into the new e-van, much of which is being put into updating three plants for its production: Charleston, South Carolina; Düsseldorf; and Ludwigsfelde, Germany. Mercedes did not release pricing information in this week's announcement – expect that to follow closer to launch.
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As someone who occasionally lives the van life...I'd like to see either a range improvement to 400 miles and/or rooftop solar trickle charging. Convenient power outlets front to back...competent overnight HVAC (especially heat). Needs to be available in windowless cargo trim because real van-lifers don't much care for glass.