Mercedes-Benz details eSprinter electric cargo van

With just 104 miles of range, the EV isn't intended for long hauls.

Mercedes-Benz has revealed the new eSprinter, an all-electric cargo van designed for short-haul trips in urban markets.

The van is available with either a 55-kWh or 41-kWh battery, both of which are relatively small for such a large vehicle. Range is consequently sacrificed in favor of higher payload capacity, with the larger battery rated at just 104 miles according to EU test standards. Opting for the smaller pack brings the payload capacity up to around 2,300 pounds, around 340 pounds more than the 55-kWh variant, however range drops to 75 miles.

The electric drive system delivers 114 horsepower and 218 pound-feet of torque, both falling short of the entry-level Sprinter powered by a four-cylinder gasoline engine. The payload specs are also under the 3,854 pounds that can be hauled with the least-powerful internal-combustion configuration, while top speed is limited to just 75 mph.

Certain types of delivery services will presumably exhaust the battery before completing a whole shift, even just driving around a single city. Mercedes-Benz says the eSprinter can charge to 80 percent in just 30 minutes, minimizing downtime for heavy use.

The seemingly lackluster specifications may come as a surprise, as the company could theoretically have installed a much larger battery and more powerful drive system capable of driving for longer distances and hauling much more than a ton. Tesla's Cybertruck boasts 250 miles of range for $39,900 -- in the middle of the Sprinter Cargo Van price range -- with up to 3,500 pounds of payload capacity, presumably for the more expensive configurations with even longer range.

The eSprinter's inaugural configurations might make more sense if the price tag is comparable to the entry-level four-cylinder Sprinter, as most fleet managers are unlikely to embrace electric vans if the cost proposition is not comparable to or better than internal-combustion vehicles in terms of purchase price, maintenance costs and fuel. Mercedes-Benz has not released pricing yet, though the company will offer tools that help buyers determine if the eSprinter will achieve cost savings based on a business's operation details.

As emissions regulations continue to tighten, fleet operators may not have much of a choice in adopting electric "last-mile" delivery vans in cities that have vowed to ban internal-combustion vehicles.

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