Mercedes-Benz to start electric van production in US in 2023
Mercedes-Benz is bringing production of its new electric delivery van to the US in the second half of 2023, joining a herd of automakers seeking to capitalize on the greening of e-commerce.
The commercial-van unit of Daimler AG will build the next-generation eSprinter at its plant north of Charleston, South Carolina, alongside a combustion-engine version of the van, Mercedes said Tuesday in a statement. It’s spending about 350 million euros ($410 million) to convert three plants -- the one in South Carolina and two in Germany -- to make the new vehicle.
Amazon.com Inc. helped spark demand for electric commercial vehicles in 2019 when it ordered 100,000 vans from Rivian Automotive Inc. Amazon, which is a Rivian shareholder, also bought 1,800 eSprinter vans from Mercedes last year for use in European markets.
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Electric delivery vans will sell at a rate of about 190,000 a year globally by 2030, according to a forecast from Guidehouse Insights. Electric trucks of all kinds, including work vehicles and garbage trucks, will be 600,000 a year.
Mercedes’s announcement comes a day before President Joe Biden is set to unveil an expansion of government spending, which may include infrastructure investments to combat climate change and support electrification.
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The eSprinter is based on a modular platform that can be used for a larger variety of body types than the current model, Mercedes has said.
The German automaker will have plenty of competition in the electric-van market. Ford Motor Co., the largest commercial-vehicle maker in the US, says it will start selling its E-Transit van later this year. General Motors Co. has said it will launch a new unit called BrightDrop, with plans to sell an EV600 van that can go 250 miles on a charge.
There are also cash-rich startups thanks to the boom in blank-check companies. U.K. upstart Arrival plans to open a second plant in the US to make delivery vans for United Parcel Service Inc., while Electric Last Mile Solutions has confirmed plans to build plug-in vans in a former Hummer factory in Indiana this fall. And Lordstown Motors Corp. has announced a battery-powered van for 2022.