Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its all-new Sprinter van, the third-generation of this highly successful commercial vehicle that first came on the scene in 2006. Beyond the model’s updated styling are its many features that mark the Sprinter’s entry into an increasingly connected and environmentally-focused world. The new Sprinter is available for order now in the European market and will be launched there in June, with a gradual introduction into other markets to follow.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of news about the new Sprinter is the coming introduction of an electric variant next year, part of Mercedes-Benz’ efforts to introduce electrification in its commercial fleet. The eSprinter will follow in the footsteps of the eVito van that has been available for order since late last year. Deliveries of the eVito are set to begin during the second half of 2018. The eVito will be followed by the eSprinter in 2019. According to Mercedes, its electric commercial vans will offer operating costs similar to comparable diesel-powered models. Electric eSprinter and eVito models are primarily designed for commercial use in city centers.
An array of important optional driver assistance and safety systems are now available in new Sprinter vans that were only previous offered in Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles. Among these are the automaker’s Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist, and the radar-based DISTRONIC distance control system, When Blind Spot Assist is ordered with the Sprinter’s automatic parking package, traffic and pedestrians crossing behind the van are recognized and autonomous braking will initiate if needed.
"Our new Sprinter is the first van of a new type – a fully connected integral system solution,” shares Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “We have made it even better with regard to its traditional strengths and have supplemented it with intelligent products and services. So, we are unlocking a new dimension in terms of efficiency, flexibility, connectivity, and profitability for our customers.”
The plug-in hybrid Mercedes-Benz S550e is world-class in every way. It’s also environmentally friendly with its efficient powertrain, which integrates a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine and an electric motor with a seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission. The combination provides premium sedan buyers a luxury driving and ownership experience with the benefit of 14 miles of zero-emission electric driving. Overall driving range provided by the S550e’s 141 horsepower electric motor and 329 horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 is a total of 450 miles.
An array of advanced technologies optimize engine performance while reducing emissions, fuel consumption, and noise. These include rapid-multispark ignition that can fire up to four times-per-millisecond, high-pressure direct injection that can fine-tune fuel spray in 0.1 millisecond, a lightweight die-cast alloy block, widely variable valve timing, reduced friction, and on-demand ancillary components that de-activate when unneeded. An E-Boost feature enables the electric motor to raise total torque up to 479 lb-ft for quick 0 to 60 mph acceleration in just 5.2 seconds. The S550e has remarkable efficiency of up to 63 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) on the highway while driving on battery power. A drag coefficient of 0.27 CD contributes toward energy savings.
Four drive modes can be selected: The intelligent Hybrid mode optimizes use of the gasoline and electric motors together based on conditions and terrain, and even uses navigation data about the route. All-electric E-Mode offers emission-free driving around town. E-Save conserves battery power on longer highway trips and allows all-electric driving as desired in urban areas. Charge mode maximizes battery replenishment.
Economy and Sport programs vary the car's performance character while favoring electric or gasoline power. A third Economy+ program activates accelerator pedal tactile feedback that aids more efficient driving. Whenever it’s possible to save fuel by coasting, a double pulse in the pedal encourages lifting off the accelerator. When using all-electric E-Mode, pushing the pedal beyond a distinct pressure point engages the gas engine for an instant boost of power.
Advanced driver assist systems are prevalent in the S550e. These include Distronic Plus with steering assist, BAS Plus with cross-traffic assist, pre-safe brake with pedestrian recognition, blind spot assist, active lane keeping, and speed limit assist. The S550e also features enhanced radar-based regenerative braking. The extremely well-appointed cabin features dual 12.3 inch high resolution screens for driver instrumentation and a center display.
With its sleek styling, refined and accommodating interior, and plethora of advanced on-board electronics, BMW’s $96,600 S550e gives luxury sedan buyers yet another reason to opt for an environmentally-positive plug-in hybrid.
The new-for-the-U.S. midsize Mercedes-Benz Metris aims at filling business needs requiring something a bit smaller than the automaker’s popular Sprinter yet larger than a compact van. It's based on the Mercedes-Benz Vito model that’s been available in Europe and now mildly revised for American buyers. The Metris is definitely not a luxury vehicle, at least by Mercedes-Benz standards. Think of it as downsized version of the popular Sprinter van with the same rugged characteristics, but with a quieter and more compliant ride.
Mercedes-Benz is aiming at the very same need increasingly being fulfilled by an array of compact vans now on American highways – a more manageable physical footprint for business use in crowded urban areas, with the capability of meeting diverse cargo and people moving requirements. Plus, of course, there’s the imperative of accomplishing these goals in the most fuel-efficient way possible.
The Metris is fitted with two sliding side cargo doors and two traditional rear cargo doors. A passenger version with seating for up to eight is also offered. The cargo version can carry 186 cubic feet of cargo, has a 2,502 pound payload capacity, and can tow up to 4,960 pounds. It has a reasonable 38.7 foot turning diameter for in-town maneuverability and it can fit in a standard garage.
Power is supplied by a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine offering 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque. It’s coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission with standard shift paddles. An ECO Start/Stop is optional. The Metris cargo van delivers an EPA estimated 21 city and 24 highway mpg with the passenger version offering a slight drop to 20/23 mpg. The passenger version does offer enhanced functionality since its seats are removable to make way for cargo-hauling duties as needed.
Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, and a load-adaptive Electronic Stability Program are standard on both cargo and passenger versions. The cargo version features six airbags while the passenger van features eight. A long list of advanced options is also available. These include convenience and safety features like Active Parking Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, and Blind Spot Assist, plus parking sensors and a rearview camera.
At 29,945 the Metris cargo van is about $2,500 less than its base Sprinter counterpart, with the $33,495 Metris passenger version coming in about $7,000 fewer greenbacks than its larger sibling. All in all, the Metris presents a pretty compelling case for businesses that like the Sprinter but have wished for something a bit more compact.
Mercedes-Benz says it will be bringing Car-to-X technology to the highway by the end of this year, enabling the exchange of information between similarly-equipped vehicles as well as between vehicles and traffic infrastructure. The move is part of Daimler AG’s ‘Intelligent Drive’ strategy’ that will make use of Car-to-X communication to alert drivers of potential traffic hazards so appropriate action can be taken to avoid accidents at an early stage.
Car-to-X technology expands the scope of existing vehicle sensors, such as radar or camera systems, reducing blind spots and enabling drivers to see around corners or beyond obstacles. According to Daimler, the goal is to expand the telematic horizon with ready-to-market base technology now that will enable a new generation of driver assistance systems to be developed in the future.
Safety and convenience are primary targets for Daimler’s Car-to-X technology. By using precise information on traffic conditions available via Car-to-X communication, the technology can also help improve traffic flow by controlling traffic lights. Plus, looking forward, the technology will also help further development of Daimler’s autonomous driving functions.
Mercedes’ Drive Kit Plus, in combination with a smartphone and the automaker’s Digital DriveStyle app, will provide simultaneous transmission and reception of information. Daimler says it is using a mobile communication-based approach because it promises to offer the quickest way to deploy this future technology and exploit the safety potential of Car-to-X technology. Importantly, a modular approach means that retrofitting Car-to-X technology to many Mercedes-Benz models is possible.
Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Carlsbad, California created the Ener-G-Force concept shown at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show, a civilian version of the Mercedes-Benz entry in the 2012 Los Angeles Design Challenge. Mercedes-Benz was one of six entrants that presented their vision of the Highway Patrol Vehicle 2025, this year’s theme.
The futuristic Ener-G-Force is powered by hydrogen fuel cells supplying electricity to four wheel-hub motors that motivate 20-inch wheels. Advanced electronics adapts power output for each individual wheel to provide precisely the right amount of traction required for the respective terrain. A roof-mounted, 360-degree ‘Terra-Scan’ topography scanner provides a handy read on nearby surroundings, with scan results used to adjust the spring and damping rates as well as other suspension parameters for maximum on- and off-road traction.
Recycled water stored in tanks on the Ener-G-Force roof is transferred to an on-board hydro-tech converter, which in turn electrolyzes water into hydrogen for the fuel cells. This renewable energy could provide an estimated zero-emission operating range of about 500 miles.
The vehicle’s strikingly-styled side skirts are designed to house either energy storage units or hot-swappable battery packs. Color changes in the side skirts’ illumination indicate energy pack operating and charge status.
The police version is differentiated with emergency lights integrated into the roof and other law enforcement equipment and markings. Less glass area is also found on the police variant to provide a safer environment cocoon for police officers.