Van, Truck, Trailer, Bus and Coach Aftermarket News in Ireland

Mercedes-Benz all-electric Vito proves the business in London

Within three months of commissioning its first all-electric Mercedes-Benz Vito E-cell van, zero-emission final mile delivery specialist Gnewt Cargo had returned with an order for three more.

The vehicles are assigned to the award-winning company’s prestigious contract with TNT Express, and are now operating primarily within London’s Congestion Zone.


Gnewt – the name is an acronym for Green New Transport – was launched in 2009 and utilises a fleet of electric cargocycles and minivans to provide deliveries and collections across Central London.

Co-founder Sam Clarke said, “Our customers include third-party logistics companies, large retailers and other forward-thinking organisations who recognise that freight can be moved around cities in more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly ways.

“Our service, vehicles and micro consolidation hubs are precision-targeted to each client’s needs and locations, we create fulfilling work for local people, and best of all we have been independently verified to cut CO2 emissions per parcel delivered by upwards of 62%.”

Supplied by Dealer S & B Commercials, Gnewt Cargo’s Vito E-Cells are the subject of CharterWay contract hire agreements with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, for which the operator receives funding support via the government’s Plug-in Van Grant. Two charging points by Charging Solutions, part of Chargemaster plc, the UK’s leading provider of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, have been installed at the company’s base in the City.

Key to the ground-breaking vehicle’s appeal for Sam Clarke and his colleagues, is its size and carrying capacity. “We have a lot of electric vans by other manufacturers but they are much smaller and can’t match the Vito E-Cell in terms of load volume and payload potential,” he explained.

“The Mercedes-Benz is a genuinely practical proposition with a very respectable range, while the feedback from those at the wheel has been brilliant too. Jose Britto drives our first E-Cell and he loves it for its comfort and high specification – it’s a proper van, and there’s nothing bigger when it comes to fully electric drivelines.”

The Vito E-Cell is the world’s first battery-powered light commercial vehicle to be built on line at a mainstream production facility. An 82 hp electric motor drives the front wheels, so the space beneath the load floor can be used to store the lithium-ion batteries without impinging on the passenger or cargo areas.

The whisper-quiet E-Cell also employs a regenerative system, which captures the energy that would otherwise be lost in braking. As well as increasing range, this is used to power the heating and ventilation system and standard-fit heated seats, making the vehicle suitable for use on the coldest of days.

The Vito E-Cell is free from the Congestion Charge and VED fees, and meets the requirements of the Mayor of London’s intended Ultra Low Emissions Zone, which is due to be introduced by 2020.

It offers similar cargo carrying capacities to standard models and will cover an average of 80 miles between recharges – to maximise operating range top speed is electronically limited to 56 mph. A completely empty battery can be recharged from a 380/400 volt input in a maximum of six hours. Charging is quick and entirely safe, as the smart cable cannot be removed during charging, nor the vehicle driven off while it is attached.