Mercedes-Benz eVito PURE L2 Panel Van – The newest edition to the Mercedes commercial offering.

Overview

The all-new Mercedes-Benz eVito is the first in a new range of soon to be released all-electric plug-in commercial vehicles. The vans are designed to be super practical and extremely efficient for the environmentally conscious van driver, whilst delivering comfort and a decent sized load space. A little later down the line, you will see the addition of the eSprinter and the eCitan joining the range.

Engine/Gearbox

The electric engine is derived from an existing platform used within the passenger car range. It has an 85Kw electric motor with 295 (Nm) torque. Despite its size, the eVito is quite spritely off the line with the electric motor delivering a smooth and quiet take off. It is very strange at first when you turn the key, pop it into drive and hear no sound at all apart from a gentle whine that lets you know you’re ready to go. The electric motor powers the front wheels which draws the required energy from the high voltage battery. It is noteworthy that, although the battery is primarily charged from a power supply, it can be further bolstered during driving by the use of recuperation thanks to reclaimed energy. The eVito’s gearbox is a fixed transmission ratio (1.13) and has three drive modes Comfort (C), Economy (E) and Economy Plus (E+). I tried all three modes, but found it difficult to decipher a real difference between them.

Ride/Handling

The ride is very similar to the Vito 119CDI Sport we tested a year or so back. It has very smooth steering and a well-judged and balanced ride that doesn’t get over bouncy or shaky in low or higher speeds, particularly when the van is unladen. In low speeds, the steering is light and dexterous making manoeuvrability an easy task. Take it onto A- and B- roads and it really does come alive. It has a solid feeling to the road and sends you plenty of feedback from the surface regarding grip. The extra weight of the batteries helps in this area, they add around 300Kg to the kerb weight and being positioned centrally, they help the eVito feel calmer over bumps.

As mentioned earlier and in near silence, the eVito glides off the line in a spritely manner and feels much quicker than a Vito diesel with a similar output. The main appeal of an electric vehicle apart from the environmental aspect is the instant acceleration it provides and although the eVito is not Porsche Taycan quick, you won’t be disappointed.

Load Space/Practicality

The real purpose of a van is load space and practicality and I am pleased to say that the eVito delivers on both counts. The diesel-powered Vito is provided in three derivatives, but the eVito loses the smallest size in order to fit the battery pack. We tested the L2 which has a length of 5140mm with the L3 (Extra Long Version) coming in at 5370mm. The battery pack is located under the floor, meaning you receive the same 6.0-6.6 cubic meters of load space you would get in the standard van.

Utilising the load space is straightforward, the sliding doors offer accessible and easy loading from the sides, with the rear twin doors offering a 180 degrees opening angle which are secured, enabling you to load and unload so you don’t have to worry about opening the doors each time you return to the vehicle. The L2 we tested, offers a payload of 923Kg, but it is worth noting that the eVito does suffer the same hindrance as the standard van with the lack of a load hatch in the bulkhead, which damages the vans ability to carry long items. However, you buy a van for purpose and to fit your needs, so if you need to carry extra-long cargo, this is not the van for you.

Interior

The inside of the eVito is a pleasant place to be. It combines rational ergonomics with uncomplicated switch gear so you don’t have to pass a Mensa test to operate the vehicle. The steering wheel is multifunctional and lets the driver control the audio system or Sat Nav (if fitted) without removing their hands from the wheel. The TEMPMATIC air conditioning system is easy to operate and in easy reach to adjust whilst on the move. The instruments are clear and concise and positioned between the rev counter and speedometer is an LCD screen that provides information about the all-important battery life and range.

The seats are firm and supportive, so if you find yourself behind the wheel or as a passenger for long trips, they are pretty good. The eVito comes with three seats, although it is worth noting that a large adult may find the middle seat a tight fit. There are plenty of storage areas and a couple of cup holders which is ample, so space wise, the eVito scores well.

Looks

Could you tell the difference between the standard Vito and the eVito at a glance? No, you couldn’t. One of my gripes with electric vehicles is that manufacturers and designers feel they should have a more futuristic look to match the technology. I am pleased to say that, Mercedes hasn’t gone down this route, in fact, the only way of deciphering the two models is by the badge. That’s a big tick in the looks book as I happen to think that the standard vehicle looks great, so why tamper with an already successful recipe just to appear futuristic.

The Garage Verdict

The Mercedes eVito is a good looking and practical offering into the ever growing electric van sector. The build quality is excellent and it is the perfect accompaniment to an existing van fleet. But I must offer a word of caution and to Mercedes credit, they are very open about the fact that the eVito will not suit everyone.  The electric vehicle market is growing rapidly and manufacturers are going to great lengths to convince us that this is the future of motoring and that is something that we wouldn’t disagree with, but you must consider the logistics of transition to electric. We are based in Shropshire which has an urban base surrounded by beautiful countryside and although we are seeing an emergence of electric vehicle charging points, there just aren’t enough currently spread around the County that would enable a business to justify adding an electric van to its fleet.

Mercedes do recommend that you download and use an application they call the eVan ready app. By downloading this app, activating the tracking function and driving your normal route, the app will then analyse your driving behaviour and will then supply you a report with results as to whether you could manage your daily route with an electric vehicle.

The eVito has a full capacity of 93miles which sounds plenty for local runs, but you have to take into account a variety of scenarios that could greatly reduce this distance. The actual range will be determined by a multitude of things, driving style, traffic conditions, outside temperature and the use of internal climate control, so you would have to make sure that your route is planned perfectly to accommodate any potential range issues.

If you have the right infrastructure or fit a charging point at your offices, then The Garage would have no problem in recommending the eVito to you. If local charging is an issue, then this van is not for you and The Garage would recommend the standard Vito as an excellent alternative.

See more about the eVito