Mercedes-Benz Will Build Electric Sprinter Vans in Germany

A Mercedes plant in Düsseldorf, Germany, will build an electric version of the Sprinter.

Daimler AG - Product Communications Mercedes-Benz Vans—Daimler AG

Mercedes-Benz will build an electric version of its next-generation Sprinter van at a factory in Germany.

The Düsseldorf factory, which has been building Sprinters since 1995, is gearing up for production of the upcoming electric version, Mercedes said in a press release. It's the latest move by Mercedes to electrify commercial vehicles as well as passenger cars.

Mercedes said it plans to spend around 150 million euros ($171 million) over the next few years to electrify both the Sprinter and the smaller Vito (sold as the Metris in the United States). As part of an upcoming redesign that will incorporate the electric powertrain option, Mercedes will also spend 300 million euros ($343 million) on factory upgrades.

By the time the next-generation Sprinter arrives, Mercedes will likely be building vans in the U.S. at a new plant in South Carolina. But it's unclear whether the electric Sprinter will be built outside of Germany or even sold on this side of the Atlantic.

So far, automakers have mostly added electric powertrains to smaller vans, and none of these are currently sold in the U.S. Nissan only sells the gasoline-powered NV200 here, not the electric e-NV200. Renault, Peugeot, and Citroën sell electric versions of their small vans in Europe. As far as larger models go, Renault and Volkswagen are expected to launch electric versions of their Master and Crafter vans, respectively, but only for Europe.

Mercedes may target its home market at first. It already has a deal with shipping company Hermes Germany to supply 1,500 electric delivery vans. It's an application that admittedly seems well-suited to electric vehicles, since it keeps vans on short, set routes that never take them far from charging stations. People along those routes will probably appreciate the lack of noise and exhaust fumes, too.

Alongside the electric Sprinter, Mercedes is preparing a commercial truck based on the Urban eTruck concept for production, with sales likely limited to Europe. That's in addition to the range of electric passenger cars the automaker plans to launch over the next few years under its new EQ sub-brand.