Hot on the heels of Nissan’s announcement this morning that it will open the order books in April for a 7-seat variant of its popular e-NV200 electric minivan across Europe, German automaker Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the V-Class V ision e Plug-in Hybrid Concept minivan, a vehicle which it says offers the perfect blend of performance and efficiency and could become its eleventh planned plug-in model some time in the near future.
Its reveal happened on-stage at Mercedes-Benz’s early-morning press conference, shortly after the official unveiling of the production version of Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class 350 e plug-in hybrid, the second of ten new promised plug-in models the luxury German automaker will bring to market by 2017.
The V ision e could, joked Mercedes-Benz board member Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, become the eleventh.
Based on the same scalable plug-in hybrid drivetrain technology found in the S-class plug-in hybrid and C-Class Plug-in Hybrid, the V-Class V ision e combines a four-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 210 horsepower with a 90 kilowatt electric motor and 13.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to give a theoretical total system output of 33 horsepower, a maximum torque of 442 pound-feet, and a claimed 0-62 mph time of 6.1 seconds.
All that built into the package of Mercedes-Benz’s 2015 V-Class minivan, a vehicle which launched last year in Geneva as the luxury passenger-carrying sibling of the Vito commercial vehicle at a time when minivans were considered out of cashion.
“The Concept V‑ision e demonstrates the potential the Mercedes among MPVs will offer in the future when it comes to accommodating our customers’ wishes — and market demand — by offering greater exclusivity and more personalization options,” said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz’s Van division. “Our pioneering Mercedes-Benz PLUG-IN HYBRID technology has enabled us to increase the output of the most powerful V‑Class at the moment by 105 kW, even as we’ve lowered fuel consumption to the level of a compact. That’s what I call forward-looking performance enhancement.”
Like other plug-in hybrids from Mercedes-Benz, the V ision e comes with the capability to operate in all-electric mode, automatic hybrid mode — where the car’s on-board computer switches automatically between its engine and electric motor as required — charge sustain and charge hold modes. According to the official press release, electric-only range should be somewhere around 30 miles per charge for urban use, with an electronically-limited top speed of 50 mph in electric only mode. Overall top speed when operating as a hybrid is 128 mph.
Combined fuel cycle estimates using the NEDC methodology result in a fuel consumption of 3.0 litres per 100 km ( 78 mpg U.S.) with a total CO2 emissions of 71 grams per kilometer, although we should note that NEDC test cycles are notoriously optimistic compared to real-world figures.
Unlike the 7-seat e-NV200 we covered earlier, the Mercedes-Benz V ision e Plug-in Hybrid concept isn’t a vehicle designed to squeeze as many passengers in as possible. Instead, there’s just two individual executive seats, each furnished in high quality leather and offering full tilt, slide and recline capabilities. Accompanied by a table for each seat, along with USB ports, five-litre cooler and both mains and 12-volt power, the V ision e is clearly designed to offer executive travel through busy cities.
For those lounging in luxury in the rear, there’s entertainment too, courtesy of two iPad displays mounted on the headrests of the driver and front passenger seats, as well as a full-length panoramic sunroof and of course, privacy glass.
That said, Mercedes-Benz says the flexibility of the V-Class platform on which the V ision e is based means a potential production version could replace those two executive seats with standard bench seats, offering seating for up to seven with ease.
We should note that this isn’t the first time Mercedes-Benz has put a plug on a van-based vehicle. Some time ago, it produced a limited number of Vito E-Cell 100% electric vans, primarily for use as delivery vehicles in urban environments or as shuttle vehicles for short-distance travel. With a battery capacity of just 36 kilowatt-hours, a top speed limited to 55 mph and a range of just 80 miles on the NEDC cycle, it wasn’t practical enough for most uses.
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