Mercedes-Benz Debuts Future of Delivery

By Staff
4 Min Read

Mercedes-Benz on Thursday announced a new logistics concept: a demonstrator that combines its eSprinter vans with e-cargo bikes to sustainably solve the last-mile riddle.

The Sustaineer (sustainability pioneer) tech demonstrator promises a look at delivery transport of the future. So what does that look like? 

The electric van is based on the automaker’s eSprinter. Mercedes already has fully electric versions of every commercial and private van, and the company expects them to make up more than half of total sales by 2030. 

The company didn’t just develop a tech demonstrator to show what’s possible. Mercedes wanted something more make-able, with series production in mind. 

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The concept was created in partnership with Onomotion, a German cargo bike manufacturer. The eSprinter acts as a mobile micro-depot that brings rectangular containers filled with pre-packaged goods and transfers them to cargo bikes that take them to the front door. 

The transfer takes a few minutes, so the eSprinter isn’t idling for too long, and, afterward, the van continues to the next bike or back to the warehouse for a refill. The concept makes sense for several industries, but Mercedes specifically identified opportunities for express delivery and parcel services, bakeries, food suppliers, and companies that provide uniforms and other business textiles. 

The Sustaineer uses an integrated hydraulic lifting arm controlled by a handheld device to quickly load and unload the containers. The wheeled containers have a volume of more than two cubic meters and a payload of up to 200 kilograms (about 440 pounds). The vans can hold up to two containers, but they also have shelving to transport bulkier products.

The Ono e-cargo bike cabin is weatherproof. Riders can use bike paths and pull up directly to the doorstep, which speeds delivery. The packages are sorted according to the delivery route, so no searching or rearranging is necessary, and the bike has a 25-km (15.5-mile) range. The bikes have replaceable 1.4 kWh batteries that offer pedal assist up to 6 km/h (about 4 mph), and an onboard backup battery doubles the range. Finally, because it’s a bike, a driver’s license isn’t required, which really helps expand the available workforce. 

The vans have an innovative driver heating and cooling concept that only moderates the temp close to the driver’s body. Mercedes has been testing the method, and it has thus far proven to significantly reduce the energy required to heat the cab, which could have a significant impact on range. 

The company also worked with filtration specialist Mann+Hummel to add a particulate filter that significantly minimizes the ingress of particulates from tire wear, braking and asphalt. The van even has a rooftop solar panel and components made from recycled materials. 

Whether or not the Sustaineer is the future of delivery, it will undoubtedly help Mercedes in its efforts to make its entire fleet of vans net carbon-neutral along the whole value chain and the entire life cycle by 2039.

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