The commercial van segment is getting more and more competitive, especially in light of the push to have battery-electric models roaming streets across the globe. Mercedes-Benz is stepping up to the challenge with its new Electric Versatility Platform for its eSprinter.
This new platform, which cost the automaker more than $420 million to develop, provides complete flexibility when it comes to the next generation of eSprinter vans. Not only will this allow the company to cater to a buyer’s specific needs, it’ll make it more competitive in the North American market, where until just recently the eSprinter was not sold.
Mercedes’ new platform uses three modules to allow for maximum flexibility when it comes to design and development of future products. In short, it removes some of the restrictions electric vans faced previously that didn’t allow for certain body configurations offers by gasoline- and diesel-powered models.
“The next generation eSprinter is enabling us to make many more body variants available. This will ensure we meet the requirements of our customers across multiple sectors in the future, while offering the advantages of locally emission- free electric drive,” said Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
“The Sprinter has been demonstrating our competences in the field of transport for a quarter of a century. In the field of electromobility, we have initiated many innovations in recent years. Now, with the implementation of our accelerated electrification strategy, that is exactly what we are relying on – our innovation and expertise!”
Producing a more flexible battery-electric van is important, particularly in Europe where more stringent carbon emissions mandates are looming. The push to move away from vehicles powered with internal combustion engines is no longer limited to passenger cars and utility vehicles.
The new Electric Versatility Platform puts Mercedes-Benz Vans more in line with the long-term goals of its passenger car division, officials noted. It’s created a strategy based on that alignment. The five-point plan includes the following:
- Clear positioning as a premium brand for commercial and private customers
Mercedes-Benz Vans is sharpening its profile as a premium provider of future-oriented transport solutions for commercial and private customers.
- Leveraging growth potential
Central to the new strategy, is a disciplined focus on sales and high margin markets and segments to advance profitable growth worldwide. In parallel with the expansion of its activities in Europe, the company will continue to grow its presence in China and North America.
- Intensifying customer loyalty and grow recurrent revenues
Mercedes-Benz Vans will further intensify its co-operation with its customers to ensure products and services are perfectly tailored to their needs.
- Leading position in electric drives and digital solutions
Mercedes-Benz Vans’ aim is to set new standards in the van segment with customer- and future-oriented solutions. In addition to electromobility, the networking of vehicles and digital solutions are also consistently being further developed.
- Reduced costs
In order to improve profitability and increase competitiveness fixed costs are to be reduced. Profitability also plays a key role against the backdrop of the transformation towards emission-free and connected mobility.
The strategy not only helps its van division keep or expand its 30% share of the European market, it also gives the brand a fighting chance in the U.S., important since it announced earlier this week it would begin selling its eSprinter here, after initially announcing it would not.
However, the overwhelming shift to electric vans in the U.S. for commercial deliveries proved to large to ignore, especially with the introduction of the battery-electric Ford Transit last month. It’s also difficult to ignore when online e-commerce giant Amazon orders 1,800 eSprinters for use in Europe, while it ordered 100,000 vans from Rivian for use in the U.S. — an opportunity missed.
John Simlett, associate partner with the British research firm EY, noted at a conference yesterday that sales of small delivery vans have increased during the pandemic and the trend is expected to continue, going forward as shopping patterns change. “Light commercial vehicle sales have been quite high. This is one of the things that people are going to hang on to,” he added.