Mercedes wasn't originally planning to sell the electric delivery van in the US.
Last month, Ford unveiled the E-Transit van as its first-ever commercial electric vehicle. Starting at less than $45,000, the Ford E-Transit van rides on a dedicated electric platform and packs a 57-kWh battery enabling it to travel 126 miles on a charge, while an electric motor produces an estimated 266 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque.
Ford could face some stiff competition from Germany, however, because Mercedes is considering launching the eSprinter in the US, an electric version of the popular Sprinter Cargo Van. Mercedes already sells the electric van in Europe, but insiders have told Automotive News that Mercedes is planning to bring it to the US market in Q3 2023.
This means Ford will get a head start since the E-Transit will start hauling deliveries on US streets in late 2021. Initially, Mercedes wasn't planning to sell the eSprinter in the US when the electric van was revealed for Europe in 2018.
With a maximum range of 93 miles, the eSprinter's range falls short of the E-Transit and Mercedes didn't think it could justify the steep cost of homologating it for the US market. But with e-commerce sales continuing to rise and increasing pressure for manufacturers to reduce emissions, demand for electric delivery vans is increasing rapidly.
Amazon is joining forces with Rivian to build a bespoke electric delivery van and has already placed an order for 100,000 units. General Motors is also developing an electric van for business owners. According to industry analysts at Guidehouse Insights, electric commercial van sales are expected to rise from 56,000 sales per year to around 623,000 by 2030, so it's not surprising that Mercedes wants to capitalize on the demand.
While the European eSprinter is offered with either a 41- or 55-kWh battery pack, the US version is expected to pack a larger 120-kWh battery to increase the range significantly, which would give it a major advantage over the E-Transit. As standard, the European eSprinter has an electric motor producing 112 hp and 221 lb-ft, but it's not known if the US version will get a power boost.