-benz has sold an electric version of the sprinter on the other side of the pond for many years, but the van didn't receive clearance to travel to the united states. that's about to change: the battery-powered cargo hauler just received a series of significant powertrain updates, including more driving range, and it's scheduled to reach our shores in the second half of 2023. it will be built here as well. if you're thinking "the new esprinter looks just like the old one," you're right on. mercedes
hasn't made any significant changes to the van's design, and it hasn't done much to differentiate the electric model from its diesel-burning counterpart. i learned that this was intentional. "we said, 'let's keep the outside design as-is and put the new technology in the underbody, that way everyone still knows this is a sprinter,'" benjamin kaehler, the chief engineer of mercedes
-benz's electric vans division, told me. there are other reasons for not making major changes: the sprinter needs to be a lot of things to a lot of people, and keeping the body, body panels, and trim pieces unchanged ensures repair costs stay low for fleet operators and makes the van easier to modify for the numerous companies already working with diesel models. the noteworthy changes are under the body. mercedes
-benz divided the powertrain into three basic modules: the front section includes the high-voltage components, the middle section is essentially the battery pack that's mounted under the floor, and the rear section consists of the electric motor, the axles, and all related hardware. this approach makes the esprinter modular: it's kind of like a lego kit. the company can install different battery pack without having to design different underbodies for each, which in turns brings down production costs. in the united states, the esprinter will only be offered with the largest battery pack in the lineup. it's a 113-kilowatt-hour lithium-iron-phosphate unit that zaps a rear-mounted motor into motion. driving range checks in at up to 248 miles, according to the testing cycle used in europe, and the firm pegs the van's range in city traffic at up to 311 miles. it demonstrated what the new esprinter is capable of by driving a prototype for 295 miles on a single charge in november 2022, though i learned that the the van was carrying merely 88 pounds in the back. the motor is available in two states of tune rated at 134 and 201 horsepower, respectively, and both variants develop 295 pound-feet of torque. the drivetrain is compatible with 115-kilowatt fast-charging, and going from 10% to 80% takes about 42 minutes. buyers in europe will have access to two smaller battery packs with a capacity of 56 and 81 kilowatt-hours, respectively, but these will not be offered in the united states, largely because driving range drops to a level that mercedes
-benz doesn't think is acceptable for our market.