These first six months of 2013 have really been a rollercoaster ride for Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles, and it seems as though every time something positive happens to the company not long afterwards we hear about it struggling. At the beginning of the year it was announced that the company had been fined by the Office of Fair Trading for breaching competition laws, however since then they seem to have been faring pretty well.
However, even though Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles were celebrating their success at the 2013 Van Fleet World Honours just a few days ago, it has now been revealed that they are putting their electric van project on hold for the indefinite future. Not long ago the company released its Vito E-Cell electric van into the market in order to see how much demand there would be for the vehicle, and unfortunately the answer is not much at all.
Therefore, the head of Mercedes’ van division, Volker Mornhinweg has said that the project has now gone into “hibernation mode”, meaning that the company has no further plans to produce the vehicle or make it available on the general market. The Vito E-Cell was based on the midsize Vito model which is already popular in the commercial vehicle market, and offers a range of 80 miles, a top speed of 50 miles per hour and a 1,873 pound payload.
Even though this is impressive for an electric van, it seems as though customers are still not ready to make the switch. This could be due to the fact that many drivers are concerned that the range of this vehicle may not be enough, especially as there are so little charging points across the UK at this time. Furthermore, electric vans are more expensive to buy, and also cost more in van insurance due to the fact that the technology is still not mainstream.
Now that Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles has officially pulled out of the electric van market there are only two other options – the Citroen Berlingo Electrique or the Renault Kangoo Z.E. The company have said that they will now be focussing on creating cleaner versions of their vehicles, which will include stop-start systems, lightweight construction materials and clean diesel engines, which we hope to see in the near future.