Mercedes-Benz Vans and Europcar, the leading car rental company in Europe, today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

The two companies aim at further understanding customer profiles and behaviours involving the use of electric cars in cities, and how rental services can be adapted to cater to this demand. In the course of 2011, Mercedes-Benz Vans will supply a double-digit number of Vito E-CELL vehicles to Europcar for customer trials in Hamburg and Paris.

“Electric mobility is becoming an increasingly important consideration for cities and metropolitan areas,” says Andreas Burkhart, Head of Sales at Mercedes-Benz Vans. “We have to find solutions for enabling low-emission delivery operations as well as low-emission public transit. We are already offering such a solution in the form of the Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL — a full-fledged electric van for everyday use. Together with Europcar we will show how electric vans can optimally be used and rented to customers at fair terms.”

“Europcar has long believed in electric vehicles as a sustainable means of mobility, and is committed to enabling early adoption of this type of vehicle,” said Rafael Girona, Chief Operating Officer of Europcar. “Today, we are proud to announce this partnership with Mercedes-Benz, which will provide us with a better view of future customer needs, and ensure we continue to provide our customers with the greenest possible mobility solutions.”

Innovative operating concept, while maintaining top quality service
Selected Mercedes-Benz dealerships will be responsible for servicing the Vito E-CELLs in Hamburg and Paris. The responsible employees will receive in-depth theoretical and practical training in the vehicles, and services will be provided in the usual top quality. As with any other Vito, the existing diagnostic systems will therefore also be used for servicing the Vito E-CELLs.

Vito E-CELL: Cutting-edge drive technology and powerful lithium-ion batteries
The Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL is the world’s first electric van to roll off the assembly line in series-production operations like any other Vito. With a payload of about 900 kilograms and a fully usable cargo area, the Vito E-CELL can take on all of the usual van tasks for a vehicle of its class.

The batteries of the Vito E-CELL are located underneath the cargo bed, where they are installed in a space-saving manner. The state-of-the-art batteries are very powerful and durable lithium-ion units. They have a capacity of 36 kilowatt-hours, giving the vehicle a range of around 130 kilometers. The Vito E-CELL can therefore easily cover the 50 to 80 kilometers that a van is typically driven by a customer per day and still have a considerable range left.

The Vito E-CELL’s electric motor has an output of 60 kW and 280 Nm of torque. Because all of the torque of an electric motor is available from the very start, the Vito E-CELL’s dynamic driving performance is comparable to the familiar high performance level of today’s diesel engines. The top speed has been limited to 80 km/h due to the vehicle’s typical areas of application and to give the van as long a range as possible.

A pioneer in taking an environmental approach to car rental, Europcar opened its first “environmental agency” in Paris in 1999. It was also the first European company to develop an Environmental Charter, which sets out measurable goals and which was certified by Bureau Veritas in 2008. Europcar received the World’s Leading Green Transport Solution Company award for the second time in 2010.

Source: Daimler AG