By Simon Halford
Published: Monday, May 22, 2023
Late last year Mercedes released its all-electric eVito Panel Van, making it only the second EV van to enter the Australian market.
Electric vehicles aren’t known for their grunt and ability to carry heavy loads, so how does the eVito rate? We put the van through its paces to see how it holds up against its internal combustion engine (ICE) counterpart.
At first sight the eVito looks very similar to the ICE vans at the car dealership, with a discreet eVito badge being the only distinguishing feature on the EV. The similarities stopped once I was behind the wheel.
I’ve driven a lot of vans during my time in the automotive industry and expected a similar experience in the eVito. However, as I pulled out of the dealership, I was surprised by the lack of noise.
In fact, it was the quietest van I’ve ever driven, with the electric powertrain making a slight hum as I accelerated. One drawback of quiet vehicles is that you hear rattles and squeaks that would usually go unnoticed due to engine noises.
While driving the eVito, I noticed the fitted cargo barrier vibrating against the passenger seat, causing a rattle. Thankfully, a slight seat adjustment quickly fixed this problem, and we were in business.
While the van was quiet during the initial drive, I did notice at higher speeds the electric powertrain was nosier. When carrying a 600kg load in the cargo area, there was a high-pitched noise from the motor which became slightly annoying.
Although the vehicle isn’t sluggish, with 85kW electric motor and 360Nm of torque, its acceleration is very flat, and I found myself pushing the accelerator flat to the floor.
Unlike other EVs, the eVito doesn’t accelerate with any great urgency. This is especially noticeable when there’s weight in the back. My decision to negotiate Britannia roundabout in peak-hour traffic while in economy mode highlighted this problem. Flicking to sports mode, I overcame the acceleration problem.
Carrying heavy loads
The eVito was tested while empty and with a 600kg payload to compare its range and driving characteristics. It was driven in metropolitan Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills, with a quick trip down the freeway for good measure. There are three driving modes – comfort, economy and economy+ – which offer varying motor output, air-conditioning and heater performance to get the best out of the vehicle. The economy mode also has a sports setting which provides full power and maximum torque.
During the test drive, we used the economy mode to optimise the van’s range, which is about 260km when fully charged, but this did impact performance.
Without a load, power consumption averaged 23.8kWh/100km, which was positively below the manufacturer’s quoted 27.36kWh/100km.
With 600kg in the cargo area, power consumption increased to 25kWh/100km, surprisingly still under what was stated in the Mercedes’ specifications. The extra weight did make a dent on the overall performance of the eVito when it was in economy mode.
When carrying a heavy load, sports mode is the best option, as it increases power but reduces the vehicle’s range.
A final word
The Mercedes eVito may look like other vans out there, but it has clear differences you’ll notice when behind the wheel. It can carry a decent load and the range is practical for most drivers, so if you’re looking for an EV van, then the Mercedes eVito is worth a test drive.
|66kWh/h battery, mounted underneath the cargo area
|85kW, 360Nm electric motor
|up to 260km driving range
|27.36kWh/100km electric consumption
|Speed limited to 120km/h
|882kg payload 3200kg GVM