VW e-Crafter, Mercedes Urban e-truck concept: electric vans for Europe


Volkswagen e-Crafter

Volkswagen e-Crafter

Enlarge Photo

To realize truly significant reductions in carbon emissions, powertrain electrification will have to extend beyond just passenger cars.

But electric commercial vehicles have received relatively little attention from established manufacturers.

That is seemingly about to change, at least in Europe.

DON'T MISS: Road for electric trucks with trolley-like catenary opens in Sweden

At the recent IAA Commercial Vehicles trade show in Hanover, Germany, both Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen unveiled electric commercial-vehicle concepts.

The smaller of the two is set to go on sale in Europe next year.

That would be the Volkswagen e-Crafter, an all-electric version of the automaker's Crafter commercial van.

Volkswagen e-Crafter

Volkswagen e-Crafter

Enlarge Photo

In place of the standard diesel engine, it uses a 100-kilowatt (134-horsepower) electric motor, which produces 213 pound-feet of torque.

A 43-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack provides a claimed 200 kilometers (124 miles) of range, although that's likely as measured on the notoriously-optimistic European testing cycle.

(A comparable figure from the U.S. EPA might be closer to 90 or 100 miles.)

ALSO SEE: Volkswagen electric-car concept teased before Paris Motor Show

The e-Crafter features a DC fast-charging system that can charge the battery pack to 80-percent capacity in 45 minutes, according to Volkswagen.

Because the pack is housed under the floor, cargo space also remains unchanged from the diesel Crafter, VW says.

Visually, the e-Crafter is distinguished form other Crafter models primarily by C-shaped LED daytime running lights—similar to the ones used on the e-Golf electric car.

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck concept, 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck concept, 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles

Enlarge Photo

Mercedes-Benz Urban e-truck concept

First shown in incomplete form in July, the Mercedes-Benz Urban e-truck concept is considerably larger than the Volkswagen, and will likely remain a concept for now.

It's a medium-duty truck designed to shuttle heavier loads around cities.

MORE: Mercedes explores ways to turn its Sprinter van all-electric

Because of its larger size, the Mercedes needs a massive 212-kWh battery pack to achieve the same 124-mile range rating as the VW.

It is powered by two electric motors, both mounted to the rearmost of its three axles.

They produce a combined 250 kW (335 hp) and 737 lb-ft of torque.

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck concept, 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck concept, 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles

Enlarge Photo

Mercedes claims the payload of 28.6 tons is comparable to production diesel trucks of similar size.

The cab features displays that allow the driver to monitor energy flow.

The truck's systems can also predict whether there is enough charge to make it to the next stop on the route, and relays this information to the driver as well.

CHECK OUT: Mercedes electric SUV concept for Paris: teaser video released

Were the Urban e-truck to go into production, Mercedes says it would encourage customers to install energy-storage and charging systems to provide electricity at a vehicle's home base.

The company says a production version of the Urban e-truck couldn't be ready until next decade at the earliest.

In the meantime, Mercedes parent Daimler will continue to deploy its Fuso eCanter (formerly known as the Canter e-Cell) in pilot programs in Europe.

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