Published on August 26th, 2020 |
by Zachary Shahan
August 26th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
A funny thing for an American who moves to Europe or visits for a bit is seeing Mercedes-Benz vans, trucks, and even buses. In the US, we’ve got the luxury cars and SUVs, but Mercedes delivery vans and heavy-duty vehicles is an odd concept. Now, if you go to Belgium, you may even see electric Mercedes delivery vans delivering food boxes (prepared meals). They include a special design for keeping the food cool.
“Battery-electric vans are currently only rarely subject to individual conversions. Especially when the sector concerned is the transport of temperature-sensitive products like food or medicines. Why is that? The energy required for the cooling previously meant concessions in the payload or the range. But as a provider of holistic systems-oriented solutions, Mercedes-Benz Vans has a solution for precisely this field of operation: the refrigerated eVito with a cooling upfit made by Kerstner,” a German company that specializes in doing this.
HelloFresh bought 7 of these new electric vehicles after working with Mercedes-Benz a bit to develop the model.
Zero-emissions fleets are going to be a major trend as the decade advances. Aside from electric vehicles getting much more competitive and automakers needing to sell more electric vehicles in order to meet fuel economy standards, cities will increasingly ban fossil fuel vehicles from their core areas or charge them high fees to drive in.
In order to meet the specific needs of various food and medicine companies, Mercedes-Benz Vans actually met with 40 customers around the world to help develop the refrigerated eVito. But they didn’t just hold meetings with customers in a padded white room.
“Mercedes-Benz Vans joined numerous drivers on their routes in order to see where the sticking points were in the daily life of a delivery driver, as well as to ascertain where processes could be optimized and how locally emission-free vehicles can best show their strengths in this domain. Together with food box provider HelloFresh from Belgium, the company held a series of workshops, created process analyses and, on the basis of accompanying the drivers on their routes, determined the needs and requirements of the customers.”
HelloFresh actually tested out a version of the refrigerated eVito for 4 weeks in September 2019, and found that it could be used for up to 50 deliveries on one route. At an average of 10 minutes per delivery, that’s a bit more than 8 hours of operation.
“The refrigerated eVito were a technical co-creation between Mercedes-Benz Vans and HelloFresh, and it resulted in vehicles that fulfill the specific and complex operational needs of HelloFresh,” explains Thomas Stroo, COO of HelloFresh Benelux. “The long-standing partnership between both organizations has allowed for a space to innovate within the world of transport. … A vehicle designed specifically for the operational needs of HelloFresh. The way in which the engine works together with the cooling unit is tailor-made with the number of stops and the length of our routes, and allows us to drive our routes without disruption.”
Mercedes-Benz notes that electric delivery vehicles for food services have typically meant adding a different power system or passive cooling system to keep the good cool. This vehicle shifts to just using the core batteries from the powertrain for that purpose as well, which cuts down on potential range but simplifies the process, saving money.
What do you think? Do you expect to see the eVito jogging around cities across Europe in the coming years?
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