The electric van market is expanding rapidly. Fleets are demanding zero-emission vehicles to reduce their carbon footprints and manufacturers are doing their best to provide them.
Volkswagen will shortly launch an electric Transporter, having outsourced the development to specialist ABT. Groupe PSA is also ramping up its electrification effort, with the new Vivaro/Expert/Dispatch trio welcoming electric power from its car range this year.
Mercedes-Benz seemed to be ahead of the game when it confirmed the electric Vito back in 2018. It’s been almost two years since we last drove the eVito and now, a year later than planned, it has finally arrived in the UK.
Fleets can choose from two lengths and two trim levels, with prices starting from £40,495 (CV OTR ex grant).
The front-wheel drive van is powered by a 115PS electric motor and 41kWh battery, providing a range of roughly 93 miles with a six-hour recharge time (three-phase).
In terms of practicality, the Vito offers much the same as its diesel counterpart. The smaller L2 version has the same 6.0 cubic metre cargo capacity, while the L3 offers 6.6 cubic metres. This is due to the battery pack being integrated in the chassis.
There’s a payload advantage – thanks to the eVito’s 3,200kg gross vehicle weight (GVW) – meaning the L2 can carry up to 923kg and the L3 898kg.
From the outside, it’s very much business-as-usual for the eVito. Having benefitted from the same minor facelift as the regular Vito, there is nothing but badging to tell them apart. The eVito’s charging port even sits in the same location as the regular Vito’s fuel filler.
The interior is much the same too; other than the instrument cluster, which features a power usage meter rather than a tachometer.
Driving the eVito is a fairly relaxed affair. There’s no vibration or engine noise to worry about and the van is well sound-proofed for urban trips.
At motorway speeds, assuming you specify the removal of the 50mph speed limiter, the eVito is less happy. Electricity usage is much higher and the motor emits a loud buzzing sound. It’s clearly much more at home in urban settings.
Stick to towns and country lanes and the eVito is much happier. The weight of the batteries in the floor mean it handles well, with less body roll than we were expecting.
Acceleration is more progressive than in some EVs. It doesn’t bolt away from a standstill, but there’s enough grunt to move it along nicely.
We found the range estimation of 93 miles to be quite accurate although, as previously mentioned, the faster you go, the quicker the battery will empty.
All versions come with air conditioning and a heated driver’s seat and Mercedes Pro Connect telematics system. Progressive versions (£1,700 extra) have body-coloured bumpers, an upgraded stereo and electric folding door mirrors.From a running cost perspective, the eVito makes more sense, the more you use it. At five years/100,000 miles (or 76 miles per day) it’s closely matched to a diesel Vito at 37p per mile.