A new generation of electric vans is coming underpinned by the sophisticated modular VAN.EA architecture.
Mercedes-Benz has announced that from 2026, all new vans will be underpinned by the modular VAN.EA architecture. This platform, developed specifically for electric vans, will form the foundation of future midsize and large vans from the German automaker, regardless of whether they're in the private or commercial segments.
The next generation of electric Mercedes vans will place an emphasis on performance and efficiency, with a strong focus on things such as aerodynamics, chassis, and drivetrain. Mercedes wants to offer buyers a competitive range figure with an optimized battery.
VAN.EA is a scalable and modular platform, which means it's easier to accommodate vans of different sizes at lower costs. The architecture itself can be broken up into three segments, or "blocks." The first contains the front axle and electric powertrain. Regardless of the vehicle, this block will be the same in all vans with the new architecture.
The differences start to take shape in the "center block" which determines the vehicle length. This is where the battery case and batteries are situated. Should you opt for all-wheel drive, an additional electric motor will be positioned in the rear block. Front-wheel drive models will make do with the front-mounted e-motor.
Mercedes will offer commercial and private vehicles based on the VAN.EA platform. The latter, known as VAN.EA-P (P stands for privately positioned), will be aimed at well-to-do families with multiple offspring, VIPs, high-end hotels, and can also be used as a luxury tour bus.
Mercedes is aiming for a range figure of more than 310 miles, which should be more than enough for most consumers. Impressively, these electric vans will debut with Level 2 self-driving capabilities. Level 3 autonomous driving, already available in certain regions (for the EQS and S-Class), will be introduced before 2030.
These premium vans will probably replace the Vito (sold as the Metris locally) and the V-Class, which will still be around for some time based on recent spy shots.
VAN.EA-C (premium commercial vans) can be configured for just about any use, from emergency services (ambulance and police van) to delivery or e-commerce vehicles. There's even potential for customers to create RVs or camper vans. Like their luxury counterparts, the workhorses will also receive the same self-driving capabilities.
Speaking of RVs, the automaker plans to introduce a range of midsize and large camper vans that will be built at the factory. This is part of Mercedes' strategy to attract new customers. In the United States, for example, the manufacturer plans to offer a midsize luxury van to customers for the first time.
The first electric Light Commercial Vehicles plant in Poland will introduce sustainable manufacturing methods. Production sites for large vans based on the VAN.EA architecture will be net carbon neutral, with Mercedes aiming to power these facilities with 100% renewable energy.
Large cab chassis vehicles based on the new platform will be produced in Germany, while midsized vans will be put together in Spain. As a reminder, Mercedes-Benz already produces the Metris in the United States, along with the recently revealed eSprinter commercial van. We anticipate the automaker will retain a van manufacturing plant in the USA if it wants to take advantage of potential incentives.
"According to the 'electric-only' strategy, VAN.EA is developed from scratch as a purpose-built electric vehicle, fully leveraging the advantages of the new technology. Our target of more than 50% BEV share by 2030 goes hand in hand with a significant reduction in CO2 emissions across the entire lifecycle of new vans," said Andreas Zygan, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Development.
Mercedes-Benz hopes to capture the van market with its upcoming VAN.EA-based vehicles. These private and commercial vans will target the upper echelons of their respective segments, which aligns with the automaker's new business strategy.
Currently, Mercedes-Benz Vans enjoys great success in Europe, which accounts for 60% of the company's global sales. Over in the States, the German giant doubled its market share from 8% in 2018 to 16% in 2022, which shows great promise for the future. By 2030, the marque wants to expand the local lineup and increase sales.
The new vans will certainly have the technological edge, especially if they debut with MB.OS as planned. This sophisticated operating software will enable the brand to offer unique functions and features to certain vehicles, such as navigation for larger vans (such as RVs) that need to adhere to size restrictions. Of course, an array of third-party apps will also be made available.
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