• Auto123 get in a first drive of the new 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter.
Newport Beach, CA - It takes a keen eye to distinguish the new eSprinter from its gasoline-powered counterpart; the two models have near-identical exterior designs. Mercedes-Benz has even left the fuel filler flap on the electric model.
Under the body, however, the company has designed an entirely new architecture housing a 113-kWh battery, located in the eSprinter's belly, and an electric motor driving the rear wheels.
When it goes on sale in the spring, the eSprinter will be offered in a single configuration with a 170-inch wheelbase, raised roof and 113-kWh battery (usable capacity). Otherwise, with the exception of the charging hatch beneath the Mercedes logo in the centre of the grille, there are no marked differences between the gasoline and electric models.
Cargo volume is 13.8 cubic meters, slightly less than the 15.05 of the equivalent gasoline version. Maximum payload for the eSprinter is 1191 kg, less than half the capacity of the gasoline Sprinter, but that's still a lot of cargo.
We have no information on load capacity, but based on towing capacity figures ranging from 5,000 to 7,500 lb for the gasoline model, we have to deduce that this capacity will probably be half for the e-Sprinter.
Technology and safety
The eSprinter features the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz’ multimedia software, which includes the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) voice-control assistant, activated via the "Hey Mercedes" command. The system can also be operated via a touchscreen, touchpad and touch-sensitive buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
A 10.3-inch touchscreen is optional, and cloud-based services will also be available. You'll also find a list of assistance technologies such as Neutral Assist, Crosswind Assist, and Active Brake Assist with Crossing function. The system also warns the driver if it detects signs of drowsiness or inattention.
Versions and configurations
At the California launch event, only the 170-inch wheelbase version with high roof and 113-kWh battery was available to drive. Mercedes claims a range of 440 km on the European WLTP cycle, which is 20 to 25 percent more generous than our own EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) cycle. Our rain-soaked test day in California told us that the real range will be closer to 300 km.
In the future (probably starting next year), Mercedes-Benz will offer other versions with a smaller 64-kWh battery and a range closer to 200 km. This will become the model's entry-level proposition, with less imposing configurations.
The rear-mounted permanent-magnet synchronous motor (PSM, or Programmable Special Module) weighs 286 lb and delivers up to 295 lb-ft of torque and 201 hp.
The battery's lithium iron phosphate (LFP) technology eliminates the use of cobalt or nickel, and its durability makes it ideal for light commercial vehicles. Thermal management improves efficiency, and a heat pump is supplied as standard. This ensures better cabin heating in winter and longer range in cold weather.
Mercedes says the battery can be recharged from 10 to 80 percent in as little as 42 minutes using an optional 115-kW DC fast charger. Total recharging time for a completely discharged battery will be over 12 hours using a conventional 240-volt socket at 9.6 kW.
Driving the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
Let’s agree that nobody buys a van like this for the driving sensation. But we can confirm that the seats are comfortable... and heated. Our test model was equipped with a small window near the ceiling that lets you see through the cargo area and glass doors, making the rearview mirror functional in the cabin. Vision isn't perfect, but it passes the test. Other models offer a camera that transmits an image (captured at the rear) into the rearview mirror.
Our test day began in heavy rain and our eSprinter buffeted by strong winds. We were soon able to see how effective the anti-sway system is in crosswinds, which is very. Our test model was weighed down by 200 lb in the rear area, to soften the ride a little.
There are three driving modes controlled by the Drive Mode button. Driving programs control torque absorption, accelerator pedal curve and power consumption to optimize electric range:
- - Comfort mode offers full performance and torque.
- - Eco mode limits torque and engine power to 100 kW for greater efficiency.
- - Maximum Range mode further reduces torque and engine power (to 80 kW), while limiting the use of functions such as a/c, all to maximize battery efficiency.
There are also five regenerative braking levels. Drivers can switch to automatic mode (D Auto) by pulling on one of the paddles for a few seconds. The advantage of this function is that the vehicle automatically sets the energy recovery rate according to the traffic situation. The system automatically adjusts the recovery force to ensure it’s optimized. This feature is only in some markets and in vehicles equipped with a navigation system.
ECO Assist can also support anticipatory driving: the system analyzes whether there is a vehicle ahead, what the current speed limit is, or whether there is an incline, and indicates in the instrument cluster when to lift off the gas pedal. Depending on the situation, it also selects the appropriate recovery force. Maximum speed is limited to 120 km/h.
Pricing of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
This is where things get sticky. Mercedes charges a base price of $107,273 for the eSprinter. Standard features include a heated driver's seat, two USB-C ports and charge-adaptive electronic stability control, but that doesn't include options like 115 kWh fast-charging capability.
Other options to make delivery life more enjoyable include dual heated and swivelling front seats, heated windscreen, electric folding door mirrors, a/c, electric sliding side door, digital display interior mirror and much more. It's easy to run up the bill to $115,000 or $120,000.
Meanwhile, a model like the Ford E-Transit sells in its fully equipped version for just over $76,000, and offers 266 hp instead of 201. Range, however, is limited to 202 km. All the same, commercial customers might well opt for four Ford E-Transits for the price of three eSprinters...
In our view, the price point will be a serious brake on sales of the model. Many potential buyers might decide to wait for future versions with the smaller battery.
The final word
Although the eSprinter is a good performer, very quiet and offers plenty of space, its price gives us pause. This reflects an industry-wide phenomenon in the EV sector, and we can't wait to see a downward trend. Many small businesses don't have the budget for such a vehicle. Large corporations such as Amazon, DHL or UPS will probably be the main customers.
Questions about the model
Even fitted with LFP batteries that are cheaper to produce, is the eSprinter overpriced?
Will the basic version scheduled for next year really be affordable?
- - Quiet ride
- - Navigation system (optional)
- - Effective side-wind protection
- - The price
- - Too long list of options
- - Cargo capacity could be better