The latest electric van to enter the fray, is the Mercedes-Benz eVito, which made it’s way to Company Car & Van recently. The Vito range was face lifted in 2019 & the eVito includes all of the updates from the previous version.
The electric eVito, offers customer’s 85 (70) kW of power, 300 Nm of torque, a 91-mile average range, combined with a six hour charging time. This is based on three-phase charging, which is lucky, because CC&V use’s a 7kW Rolec home charger, so we could really find out if this charging time was true.
To keep things simple, the front-wheel drive eVito has been aligned with the current Vito range & offers a standard specification that mirrors the PURE model, in the range line-up. Specification includes a height & rake adjustable steering wheel, Hill Start Assist, electrically adjustable heated exterior mirrors, sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle, wood flooring & an adaptive brake light. In addition to the PURE specification, the eVito exclusively offers Mercedes PRO connect, which adds a heated drivers’ seat, TEMPMATIC air conditioning, a four-metre charging cable, with a CanTrack vehicle tracker.
The eVito is offered in two lengths, L2 or L3. Prices start from £39,895 ex VAT for the eVito Van PURE L2, increasing to £40,415 ex VAT for the eVito Van PURE L3. The eVito is eligible for the Office For Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) Grant. This means that customers can benefit from a 20% reduction on the vehicle purchase price, up to a maximum of £8,000.
As far as storage goes, the L2 model offers 6.0 m3 cargo volume, 2,277 kg kerb weight, 3,200 kg GVW, with a payload of 923 kg. The L3 offers 6.6 m3 cargo volume, 2,302 kg kerb weight, 3,200 kg GVW & a payload of 898 kg.
If you want a bit more on your van, then you can always opt for the eVito PROGRESSIVE. This adds colour coded bumpers, full wheel covers, front fog lights, Headlight Assist, a 75mph speed limiter, Audio 15, lumbar support & electrically foldable mirrors. The eVito PROGRESSIVE van L2 costs from £41,600 ex VAT & £42,120 ex VAT for the L3 variant.
For both specification levels, Mercedes PRO connect, which we first experienced in the new Sprinter, comes as standard & it’s free for the first three years. Benefits for driver & fleet manager, include Remote Access, Digital Drivers’ Log, Drive Style monitoring, real-time variable servicing monitoring, parking time monitor & geo-fence options. As an electric van, the eVito benefits from pre-conditioning of the heaters & highlights the vehicle charging options nearby.
So far so good, but what’s the eVito like to drive & what’s it’s real range ? Well, from the outside it looks just like standard Vito. We were testing the entry level PURE L2 & you’d be hard pressed to know it’s an electric van unless you get up close & read the discreet eVito & eLECTRIC badging. Even the fuel cap is in the same place on the left hand side of the van.
Inside, all seems familiar. You get the 2019 updated Vito interior, which includes 2 USB’s & a heated front driver seat, but not proper AirCon. It was 30 degrees the week I drive the eVito & although AirCon will drain the battery, I was forced to drive with the windows open just to keep vaguely cool.
There’s a 3 seat configuration up front, as well as some top of the dash storage, a decent glove box & two handy deep door pockets, but not anywhere to fit a large bottle or drinks container. The ignition is on the left.
Power steering is standard & the wheel is both rake & reach adjustable. The drivers seat also offers a myriad of adjustment, so getting comfortable was not a problem. The hand brake is located on the floor as it is in Mercedes cars. You push a ‘fourth’ pedal with your left foot to engage the brake & then pull a dash mounted lever to release. I found it straightforward to use, although some may not like it as it doesn’t help you with hill starts.
In the centre of the dash & higher up than in some vans are the Audio 15 infotainment system & heating controls. The infotainment screen is slightly awkward to reach for the driver, as is the USB input’s which are on the left of the dash. For a left hand driven Vito, this location would make perfect sense. The front windows are electric & keeping the cabin quiet is a full width bulkhead. The quality is top-notch but it’s not as practical a cab as some competitors.
The rear load space is easily accessed as the L2 Vito we drove comes with left & right hand slide-opening side doors & twin rear doors that open 180 degrees. To be fair we used it only once, to transport a mountain bike into the Peak District & it was a simple enough task to fix the bike to the hooks located in the rear floorspace, to stop it moving around.
Of more interest I’m sure, is how the eVito drives & how far one can travel in it. For starters it’s easy to drive & very relaxing on the motorway. The gear lever offers Neutral, Reverse or Drive options & even with the battery weight underneath the floor, the eVito handles pretty well for it’s weight.
As with most electric cars, the eVito offers several levels of regenerative braking, which can be adjusted using the paddles on either side of the steering wheel. This enables you in traffic or in town, to utilise D-, the strongest regenerative level, which is also the most noticeable. You can then decrease the strength of regeneration by pulling on the right hand paddle, moving through the options of D, then D+ & as we found for motorway driving the very useful D++.
When driving the eVito, you can choose from three drive modes; E+, E or C. There is dash mounted button in the centre console to select these. E+ offers the most efficient driving style; E is the middle option & the one we preferred or you can select C, which is the least efficient, or the most fun.
The eVito was delivered with a full charge offering a 91 mile range. We drove the eVito to Chester in drive mode E along the M56 at around 70mph, a total distance of 30 miles. On arrival at Tesco, we took advantage of their Podpoint charger whilst we shopped in the store, which allowed us up to 2 hours of free charging. You can access these via the Podpoint App. Our journey had decreased the range from 91 miles to 55 & after an hour charging was back up to 71 miles for the return leg. Thirty miles later & back home, the range now showed 36 miles.
We then repeated the identical journey the following day & we concluded that if driven unladen with just a driver, at mostly motorway speeds, then the eVito offers an 80 mile range. For the remainder of our week we drove locally & once up into the Peaks & back, at lower speeds of up to 50mph. At these speeds as we found, the range is a genuine 90 miles, as you can really take advantage of the regenerative braking to keep that battery topped up.
This may sound like damning with faint praise, but when we have driven other electric car’s or van’s, they are regularly no better than 70-80% accurate on their electric range, so the eVito at 88% or better on our test, was a pleasant surprise.
In comparison to other similar sized electric vans, such as the PSA Group’s Viavro-e, e-Dispatch & e-Expert, the 91 mile range of the eVito, can’t match the PSA Group’s claimed WLTP battery range of 143 miles. We’d be surprised though, if the real range is more than 110 miles
Should my business get one ? If you have a van that only travels locally at 75 miles or under per day, then it’s well worth a look. It’s not as cheap as the diesel Vito, whose entry level model costs £23,900 + vat. In comparison our test eVito which is higher specced as well, retails at £39,895. But, if you subtract the £8000 OLEV grant the price reduces to £31,895, so the gap’s not as large as it first seems.
In conclusion, the eVito was much better than we expected. It performed well above average on our EV mileage range tests, it’s comfortable, quiet to drive & now offers Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, something we really can’t live without. On the negative side, we really would have liked proper AirCon, in lieu of the heated drivers seat & cruise control would have been handy too, as we found the accelerator pedal quite heavy going on the motorway.
You may be reading this & thinking that the 80-91 mile eVito range that we experienced, is nowhere near enough, but we reckon that plenty of businesses, don’t need a complete fleet of long-distance diesel vans. Factor in that charging is about 75% cheaper per mile of range, than filling your Vito with diesel & the gap narrows again. Ultimately, we think it will come down to the buyers confidence in the eVito’s range, their daily mileage, plus their access to charging points. If your business has charging stations, or you have one at home, there really is nothing to fear from an electric Vito.
An eVito Corleone 4/5