As Mercedes-Benz speeds toward an all-electric future globally, it is also electrifying its commercial segment in the U.S.
The luxury automaker will bring a battery-powered version of its workhorse Sprinter van to the U.S. and Canada in the second half of the year. The U.S. is the second-largest market for Sprinter vans after Germany.
Mercedes said it has invested about $375 million in developing the new eSprinter, including $161 million at plants in North Charleston, S.C., and Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, Germany, to assemble it.
Auto Forcast Solutions expects Mercedes to build about 15,000 eSprinters globally in its first full calendar year of production. The forecasting firm noted that volume production in Charleston will begin this summer with "just a couple thousand" vehicles projected to be built there in 2024.
The eSprinter, built on Mercedes' Electric Versatility Platform, will be offered with three battery options and can be configured as a delivery van, flatbed truck, people mover or ambulance.
Mercedes initially will bring the longest-range version of the cargo van to the U.S. The high-roof, long-wheelbase model has a 113-kilowatt-hour battery that delivers a driving range of up to 249 miles, based on WLTP estimates. The vehicle has a carrying capacity of 488 cubic feet.
Commercial customers prioritize cargo-hauling capability over driving range, said Jeff Aiosa, owner of Mercedes-Benz of New London in Connecticut. "In urban areas, the range isn't as big of a concern," said Aiosa. "The industry is all-in on electric. It's a good thing we are also transitioning our commercial side to electric."