Mercedes explores ways to turn its Sprinter van all-electric


2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Worker

2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Worker

Enlarge Photo

Spurred by Tesla Motors and competitor German luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz is planning a handful of new electric cars.

The first is likely to be a crossover, to be previewed by a concept that will debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show this fall, set to be followed by another crossover and two sedans.

But Mercedes may also be planning an electric vehicle that is a little less luxurious.

DON'T MISS: Will Mercedes start an electric-only sub-brand (like BMW i)?

The company's Sprinter van could get an all-electric powertrain option around the end of the decade, according to Trucks.com.

The electric Sprinter would likely be added as part of the van's next full redesign.

By the time it arrives, Mercedes may be building vans in the U.S.

2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Worker

2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Worker

Enlarge Photo

The company recently broke ground on a new $500 million van plant in Charleston, South Carolina, replacing a facility there that assembles vans from imported kits.

Currently, Sprinter vans for the North American market are built at plants in Germany, and then partially disassembled for import to avoid tariffs.

Mercedes is showing more interest in electric commercial vehicles.

ALSO SEE: Mercedes electric SUV concept for Paris: what we know so far

It recently unveiled a prototype all-electric truck called the Urban eTruck, and already sells an electric version of the Canter box truck produced by its Fuso commercial-vehicle division in some markets.

While these vehicles use largely bespoke components, Mercedes believes the electric Sprinter can borrow technology from its passenger-car line.

That is the approach Nissan took with its electric van, the e-NV200.

2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Worker

2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Worker

Enlarge Photo

This model essentially combines the body of an NV200 small van with the powertrain of a Leaf electric car.

Nissan sells the e-NV200 in Europe and Japan, but will not bring it to the U.S. despite two years of North American testing.

MORE: Mercedes-Benz electric cars: more details of 4 models for 2020 emerge

Renault, Peugeot, and Citroën sell electric versions of their small vans in Europe as well.

The Sprinter would likely be the first full-size van produced by a major manufacturer to go all-electric, though.

Given Mercedes' plans to build Sprinters in the U.S., perhaps the carmaker will see fit to sell the electric version here as well.

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