Vans for the Environment - PART VI


Stuttgart, Germany, Jul 14, 2008

Innovation based on tradition

  • First modern electric van already presented in 1972
  • Electric van available in series production since 1988
  • MB 100 was the world's first fuel cell powered vehicle in 1994
  • Sprinter NGT with natural gas drive already in series production in 1997
  • 2003: practical trials with fuel cell vans
  • First hybrid-drive Sprinter already introduced in 2004
Innovation is what drives Mercedes-Benz - from the invention of the automobile to the determined and constant progress that will lead to emissions-free driving. Even very early on, development effort was not only restricted to petrol and diesel power unit - the engineers were also concerned with alternative drive systems, and some of these even entered series production. No fundamental decision had yet been taken about the drive system when the automobile was in its infancy. In 1899, for example, "Motorfahrzeug- und Motorenfabrik Berlin-Marienfelde" produced a range of electrically powered vans, compact buses and passenger cars. Nowadays a major impetus for the development of new drive systems is environmental compatibility and conservation of resources, and vans bearing the Mercedes star are always to be found at the cutting edge of any progress.


Mercedes-Benz presents the LE 306 van with exchangeable battery technology, and therefore the first concept for a modern electric van. The motor has an output of 31 kW, enough for a top speed of 70 km/h. The operating range is 65 km. In subsequent years 89 electric vans cover a total of 2.9 million kilometres.


Mercedes-Benz presents the world's first hydrogen-powered van with hydride-based storage as an experimental vehicle.


Mercedes-Benz 208 vans enter practical trials with M15 fuel (85 % premium petrol, 15 % methanol).


Mercedes-Benz displays the 307 E electric van at the "Drive Electric ’80" fair. As part of a large-scale trial, 18 of these vans are tested under day-to-day operating conditions in Berlin and Stuttgart. Large-scale trials with the German Post Office using 22 electric vans in Bonn show that the energy costs are roughly twice as high as for vehicles with a diesel engine.


Mercedes-Benz introduces the first vans with electric drive as the standard configuration, one of them the 308 E. Its DC motor has an output of 18 kW. Maximum speed is 46 km/h, with a maximum operating range of 60 km. The MB 100 E and the large-capacity T2 van are also offered with electric drive. All these vehicles are equipped with lead-gel batteries.


The Mercedes-Benz MB 100 E is used as a backup and transport vehicle at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Its motor has an outout of 28 kW. On the German island of Rügen, a demonstration project is started to test the latest-generation electric vehicles, including the MB 100 E van. The vehicles are recharged at special electric charging stations whose energy is partly obtained from solar power.

From 1993:

More than 60 experimental vehicles with AEG Zebra high-performance batteries are in operation, among them versions of the Vito 108 E with a 600 kg payload.


The Mercedes-Benz NECAR 1 (New Electric Car) undergoes its first tests as the world's first fuel cell powered vehicle. The drive system occupies the entire load compartment of the MB 100 van.


The NECAR 2 fuel cell vehicle is presented. It is based on the large-capacity Mercedes-Benz V-Class van.


The Sprinter NGT (Natural Gas Technology) is introduced following extensive tests. It develops an output of 95 kW (129 hp) and a maximum torque of 185 Nm. Operating range is between 180 and 370 km


A fuel cell powered Mercedes-Benz Sprinter enters practical day-to-day trials with the Hermes despatch service. The prototype is initially used in the Stuttgart area, then in Hamburg.


Mercedes-Benz delivers ten Sprinters powered by liquified gas to the Dortmund company Progas as part of a long-term study.


DaimlerChrysler, the Environ­mental Protection Agency (EPA) in America and UPS (United Parcel Service) begin practical day-to-day trials of fuel cell powered vehicles.


Mercedes-Benz presents the hybrid-drive Sprinter at the International Commercial Vehicle Show (IAA). Two variants are shown: with and without a "plug-in" feature for recharging from the mains. The electric motor of the plug-in hybrid develops 70 kW, that of the Sprinter with no charging socket 30 kW. In each case the power is stored by nickel/metal hydride batteries (NiMH).


The first-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with plug-in hybrid drive enters customer trials.


Trials of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with bifuel natural gas drive commence. The company presents the Sprinter NGT as an almost production-ready study at the International Commercial Vehicle Show (IAA). In the same year, customer trials of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with plug-in hybrid drive and a diesel engine commence with the FedEx express service in Paris.


In the early summer Mercedes-Benz commences series production of the Sprinter 316 NGT with natural gas drive. Customer trials with eleven second-generation Sprinter Plug-In Hybrid vans commence in the USA in the summer.

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