Skip to main content

Mercedes’ electric eSprinter isn’t just greener, it’s better

Front three quarter view of a 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric van.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

While best known for luxury cars, Mercedes-Benz is also a prolific maker of commercial vans. Since it first arrived in the U.S. in 2001, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has become a favorite of both delivery fleets and camping enthusiasts. And with Mercedes kicking its electrification plans into high gear, we’re finally getting an all-electric Sprinter van.

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter is an updated version of a model Mercedes was already selling in Europe but was considered unsuitable for the U.S. because of its limited driving range. The updated eSprinter addresses that with a bigger battery pack and features a reengineered electric motor and other components that allow it to be built more easily alongside conventional vans. That’s happening at Mercedes’ factory in North Charleston, South Carolina, which will begin supplying electric vans to customers in the U.S. later this year.

Those customers will have a choice of standard ($74,181) and high-output ($77,611) versions, but not the variety of body styles available for internal-combustion vans, as well as the rival Ford E-Transit. For now, Mercedes is focusing on delivery services and other businesses needing lots of cargo space, but the #VanLife crowd will likely be eyeing the eSprinter as well.

Design and interior

The eSprinter looks like a standard Sprinter van, boasting the same European-style tall-and-narrow look that Mercedes popularized in the U.S. The current Sprinter design has been around since the 2019 model year, but Mercedes has been selling Sprinters in the U.S. for just over two decades. When the Sprinter first arrived, It stood out among the squat Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express vans of the time. But since then, other automakers have followed Mercedes’ lead. Ford replaced the E-Series with the Euro-style Transit, while Stellantis currently sells the Fiat-derived Ram ProMaster.

To make a Sprinter into an eSprinter, Mercedes bolts a battery pack to the underside of the frame, slots in a compact electric motor to power the rear axle, and stuffs ancillary hardware under the hood in the space vacated by the combustion engine. Ford follows a similar formula with its E-Transit, which shares nearly everything but its powertrain with internal-combustion Transit models.

Interior of a 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric van.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

But there’s more creativity happening in the electric van world. Rivian has a purpose-built electric van, while General Motors has launched an entire electric van division called BrightDrop. Kia has even proposed building electric vans with swappable bodies, allowing them to switch from hauling cargo to passengers.

The interior looks vaguely similar to one from a Mercedes car, with fewer luxuries.

Mercedes will offer multiple configurations in other markets, but in the U.S., the eSprinter launches exclusively as a high-roof cargo van with a 170-inch wheelbase. Mercedes claims 488 cubic feet of cargo volume with a maximum payload capacity of 2,624 pounds. For comparison, Ford claims a maximum 3,553-pound payload capacity and 404.3 cubic feet of cargo space for equivalent versions of its E-Transit cargo van, which have a 148.0-inch wheelbase. The two configurations currently available for Rivian’s van land on either side of the eSprinter with a 157.5-inch wheelbase and 2,734-pound payload capacity and a 187.0-inch wheelbase and 2,513-pound payload capacity. GM claims a lower payload capacity but more cargo space for the larger of its two BrightDrop vans, the Zevo 600.

The interior also carries over from the internal combustion version of the Sprinter, meaning it looks vaguely similar to the cabins of Mercedes cars but without most of the creature comforts. Some of the details, such as the steering wheel, round air vents, and some of the dashboard controls, look like they came straight out of a GLC-Class. But this is a work vehicle, so you won’t find any massaging seats, Burmester audio systems, or delicately stitched leather upholstery.

Tech, infotainment, and driver assist

Whether internal combustion or electric, Sprinter vans get a version of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system used in the automaker’s passenger cars, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. In the eSprinter, MBUX runs on a 10.25-inch touchscreen that looks tiny in its plastic perch on the dashboard but is still more than adequate for basic functions like navigation and vehicle settings.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter touchscreen showing battery information.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

The eSprinter features the same excellent voice recognition system as other Mercedes models, which is generally more reliable than equivalent systems from other automakers. An EV-specific navigation feature is also available, incorporating charging stops into the route. We didn’t have an opportunity to test out the latter feature during our short test drive, but voice control worked just as well as in the Mercedes passenger cars we’ve used it in.

Driver-assist features like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and a driver-attention monitor are also available, but you won’t find the more sophisticated driver aids available in Mercedes’ passenger cars. The available rearview camera mirror seems like it should have been deployed in vans before passenger cars rather than the other way around.

Driving experience

All eSprinter models are rear-wheel drive, but as noted above, Mercedes offers two power levels. Buyers get 134 horsepower standard but can also specify 201 hp, with 295 pound-feet of torque in either case.

While automakers often launch electric cars that are more powerful than their internal-combustion counterparts to help sell EV tech, that wasn’t a priority for Mercedes with the eSprinter. The four-cylinder diesel engine that comes standard in the non-electric Sprinter only makes 170 hp, but it matches the eSprinter’s electric motor’s torque. Mercedes offers a more powerful version of the diesel, rated at 211 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque.

Rear three quarter view of a 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric van.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

The eSprinter’s top speed is also limited to a reasonable 75 mph, which is probably just as well for a vehicle that will likely spend most of its working life with a GPS speed tracker installed. Acceleration up to that speed is good for a van but leisurely for an EV. But, for what it’s worth, the eSprinter is overall much nicer to drive than a diesel Sprinter. It felt remarkably nimble for such a large vehicle, something Mercedes attributes to the low-mounted battery pack. And despite the lack of an internal combustion engine to mask wind noise and reverberations from the cavernous cargo hold, the cab was also fairly quiet.

The eSprinter is much nicer to drive than a diesel Sprinter.

Mercedes supplies a selection of drive modes that let you know exactly what kind of vehicle you’re driving. The only choices are Comfort, Eco, and Maximum Range. Comfort mode is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s essentially the default mode, allowing full power from both the motor and climate control, as well as the most immediate accelerator response. Eco and Maximum Range modes dial everything back to save energy, but to the point that acceleration felt too sluggish even for slow traffic.

The eSprinter also has something that should be on every electric passenger car: multiple levels of regenerative braking. Drivers can toggle through multiple settings of regen strength, including one that turns regenerative braking completely off and lets the van coast. An automatic mode lets the van choose the level of regen based on the speed of vehicles in front and the topography of the road.

Range and charging

One of the reasons Mercedes didn’t bring the original eSprinter to the U.S. was what the automaker deemed to be an inadequate range, something that’s been addressed with a bigger battery pack. The 113-kilowatt-hour pack also uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry, also used in certain Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla models. Mercedes claims it is a better fit for light commercial vehicles like vans because it degrades at a slower rate.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter charge port.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

U.S. range figures weren’t available at press time, and because its maximum 9,370-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is past the cutoff for light-duty vehicles, the eSprinter likely won’t undergo formal testing for the U.S. Mercedes estimates a range of about 250 miles, which would put the eSprinter well ahead of the Ford E-Transit, which can only manage 108 miles when comparably configured, as well as Rivian’s vans, but about even with GM’s BrightDrop vans.

DC fast charging at 115 kilowatts can take the battery from 10% to 80% charge in an estimated 42 minutes. A full recharge from a 240-volt AC charger takes 12.5 hours. For public charging, Mercedes also offers connectivity that lets drivers start and pay for charging at three of the biggest networks – ChargePoint, Electrify America, and EVgo — without using each network’s individual app. What Mercedes hasn’t included is any provision for tapping into the battery pack to run appliances or other accessories for camper van conversions. That’s just not a priority, as the initial rollout of the eSprinter is focused on business customers.

How DT would configure this car

If we were speccing an eSprinter, we’d go with the higher-output 201-hp version. It felt merely adequate, so we weren’t exactly eager to drive a less-powerful version.

Front three quarter view of a 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric van.
Stephen Edelstein / Digital Trends

Most eSprinter drivers won’t get to choose what they’re driving, though. While some will likely make it into private hands eventually, the first buyers will be businesses shopping these roughly $70,000 vans against cheaper Ford E-Transits with more configuration options but less range, and pricier Rivians with sleeker styling and the cool factor of one of the hottest EV startups.

The quick growth of the electric van market could be a big win for the environment.

Regardless of which van wins over fleet managers, the quick growth of the electric van market could be a big win for the environment, reducing emissions from vehicles that cover vastly more mileage than the average passenger car and lowering the carbon footprint of the products we buy.

Even Mercedes doesn’t think the eSprinter is the ultimate electric van, though. The automaker is already planning new medium and large vans based on an EV-specific architecture called Van.EA. The first of these vans is scheduled to debut in 2026. For now, the eSprinter is a great first effort, bringing smart tech and electric power to the humble delivery van.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Mercedes EV charging hubs are coming to North America by the end of the decade
What a future Mercedes-Benz EV charging hub might look like.

You can't have more electric cars without more charging stations, so Mercedes-Benz is building a global charging network covering North America, China, Europe, and other major markets to support its goal of going all-electric by the end of the decade where market conditions allow.

Announced at CES 2023, the network should be in place by the end of the decade in line with Mercedes' electrification goal. It's a bold move by the automaker, which has mostly relied on third-party charging networks until now.

Read more
We need more 7-passenger EVs, but the 2023 Mercedes EQS SUV has room to improve
Front three quarter view of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV.

Mercedes-Benz is continuing to expand its EV lineup, this time with a model aimed at (wealthy) families.
As the name states, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is an SUV derivative of the EQS sedan. With the EQS sedan positioned as the electric analog to the Mercedes S-Class, the EQS SUV is the electric version of the GLS-Class. And like that vehicle, the EQS SUV is available with up to seven seats across three rows.
That makes the EQS SUV an important vehicle not just for Mercedes, but for the cause of EV adoption in general. While the Tesla Model X and Rivian R1S also offer three rows for family-hauling duty, there’s a lot more room in the market for another entry. Given the popularity of equivalent gasoline luxury SUVs like the GLS, Land Rover Range Rover, and Cadillac Escalade, the EQS SUV arrives not a moment too soon.
The EQS SUV is scheduled to reach U.S. dealerships this fall in three guises. The base rear-wheel-drive EQS 450+ starts at $105,550 with destination, while the all-wheel drive EQS 450 4Matic and EQS 580 4Matic start at $108,550 and $127,100, respectively. Although it will be built in Alabama, the EQS SUV won’t qualify for the revised federal EV tax credit because it exceeds the $80,000 price cap for SUVs.

Design and interior
A defining feature of Mercedes’ EQ lineup is aerodynamic bodywork aimed at maximizing range. The typical SUV is not aerodynamically ideal, but Mercedes managed to achieve an impressively low drag coefficient for an SUV — at 0.26, it’s close to the Toyota Prius. But function clearly took precedence over form. Mercedes deserves credit for not going in the polarizing direction BMW did with its two-row iX SUV, but the EQS SUV looks like a melting scoop of ice cream.
More disappointing is the third row, which should be the EQS SUV’s defining feature, but seems more like a useless afterthought. Adults will find it difficult to insert themselves into the third-row seats, let alone tolerate riding in them. As in most three-row vehicles, the rear seats also pretty much eliminate cargo space. And if you want to fold them down to create more cargo room, you’ll have to do it manually as Mercedes didn’t include a power-folding system — a bit disappointing for a six-figure car. The EQS SUV also lacks a frunk; like the EQS sedan, the hood is sealed.
The EQS SUV looks like a melting scoop of ice cream.

Read more
Lux and refreshingly livable, Mercedes’ EQE moves EVs mainstream
Front three quarter view of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE sedan.

Mercedes-Benz wants its EQ sub-brand to be an all-electric counterpart to its current lineup of gasoline luxury cars, and it’s working toward that goal by starting at opposite ends of the price spectrum and working toward the middle.
Where the EQS sedan and SUV are the flagships of the lineup, and the EQB serves as an entry-level offering, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE sedan aims for the middle of the market. It’s pitched as an electric equivalent of the Mercedes E-Class, one of the automaker’s bread-and-butter models. And like the E-Class, the EQE will compete against sedans from Mercedes’ German rivals, such as the Audi e-tron GT, BMW i4, and Porsche Taycan. It will likely be cross-shopped against the Genesis Electrified G80, Lucid Air, and Tesla Model S as well.
The EQE sedan arrives at U.S. dealerships in late 2022 in four guises: base rear-wheel drive EQE 350+, all-wheel drive EQE 350 4Matic and EQE 500 4Matic, and an AMG EQE performance version. Mercedes hasn’t disclosed pricing for any of these models, but the EQE 350 4Matic we tested for this first drive will likely be a mid-tier trim level. Like its EQS sibling, the EQE will also get an SUV variant, which will launch sometime after the sedan version.

Design and interior
The EQE has the same lozenge-like shape as the EQS sedan, which is dictated by aerodynamics. The appeal of the design is up for debate, but the smooth shape reduces aerodynamic drag, which helps improve efficiency and range. Under the skin, the EQE is also based on the same EVA2 architecture as the EQS sedan.
But while the two EQ sedans look similar at first glance, the EQE is a bit smaller than its sibling. It’s 10.6 inches shorter than the EQS sedan, with a 3.5-inch shorter wheelbase. Rear-seat passengers might notice the difference, but like its gasoline E-Class counterpart, the EQE is aimed more at drivers than passengers. Its tidier proportions were also a bit more pleasing to our eyes, making the EQE look sleeker than its sibling.
The interior design is minimalist while still maintaining functionality.

Read more