Parcel company Hermes has placed an order for 168 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter vans, all of which should be on the roads by the end of the year. The vans will operate through the Hermes ParcelShops service, which operates through more than 5,000 convenience stores nationwide. The move follows a successful trial of two eSprinter vans from the firm’s depot in Enfield, north London.
Those vans were supplied by local dealer Intercounty Truck & Van and the dealer will fulfil the larger order too, along with 132 diesel-engined Sprinter vans for longer haul work. Pod Point UK has been commissioned to install charging points at Hermes depots, initially in London and other cities with low emission zones.
“The transition to a zero-emission electric fleet is integral to our environment, social and governance agenda and we’ve been keen to take the next major step forward towards this goal,” said David Landy, head of fleet at Hermes.
”However, we are under no illusions, this will not be an easy journey. From a purely operational standpoint and given the current state of the technology, whichever way you look at it, whether in terms of range, payload or volume, a van with an internal combustion engine beats an electric one hands down.
“Only when it comes to tailpipe emission does the battery-powered vehicle outshine the diesel. So we know there are constraints and compromises to make and we recognise that this is going to put extra pressure and increased demands on those colleagues out in our depots who are doing a difficult job, day in and day out.”
When specifying diesel Sprinters, Hermes takes an L3H2 van, offering 14m3 of load volume. However, the eSprinter is only available as an L2H3, with an 11m3 volume. This means that Hermes will have to allocate the electric vans to those routes best suited to the smaller cargo area and lower operating range. However, the deal with Intercounty not only allows Hermes to swap some of its diesel vans to electric as its charging infrastructure comes on line, but also allows the company to move to newer, longer range electric vans as the technology becomes available.
For now though, service and back-up, from the manufacturer and from a network of experienced dealers, was key to the decision to go with Mercedes-Benz and Intercounty.
“This is a new technology, so product support will be crucial,” said Landy.