Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Vans

Mercedes Plans One Electric Van Platform To Rule Them All

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Mercedes-Benz Vans has created a new battery electric platform specifically for its van customers. A van is a box on wheels that can perform many tasks. It can be a portable workshop for plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and other tradespeople. It can deliver everything from groceries to packages. It can function as an ambulance, a pet hospital, or an airport shuttle. A van can also be a luxuriously appointed camper for those who like to carry all their worldly possessions with them when they travel.

To meet the needs of so many customers, van manufacturers need to offer a dizzying array of configurations. Short, medium, or long wheelbase? Low roof, medium roof, or high roof? Light duty, medium duty, or heavy duty? Some vans leave the factory with nothing more than a chassis and cab, so the space behind the driver can be fitted with a specialized body, such as a passenger shuttle or ambulance.

As the transition to electric vehicles moves forward, van manufacturers are realizing that they will need to adapt their electric van offerings to the needs of various customers while keeping them affordable. Some vans need longer range which will cost more money. Some will only require a shorter range — especially electric work vans. They will cost less because they can be fitted with smaller batteries.

The Mercedes VAN.EA Platform

This week, Mercedes announced that, starting in 2026, all its newly developed vans will be based on just one single innovative, modular, and scalable architecture called VAN.EA, which is short for Van Electric Architecture, an all-new purpose-built platform developed from scratch for its future electric vans.

All future midsize and large vans will be built on it, both commercial and private, the company says. Those vans will focus on added value for the customers and their individual needs, whether for a commercial application as a versatile premium all-rounder or as a private luxury van. Notice the emphasis on high-end products. Mercedes-Benz will not get down and grovel with the likes of Nissan and Peugeot, which are lucky if they break even on their electric vans. That is not the market Mercedes is aiming for.

The VAN.EA architecture strategy will reduce the complexity of the company’s purpose-built electric van portfolio, which is expected to result in significant economies of scale. The number of variants will be reduced by more than 50% compared to the company’s current van lineup.

“Starting 2026, we will introduce our purpose-built EV architecture VAN.EA. This enables us to consolidate our midsize and large vans down to only one architecture and significantly reduce the complexity of our product portfolio. Maximum added value for customers with sustainable profitability at the same time — VAN.EA clearly underscores our aspiration to ‘Lead in Electric’,” said Mathias Geisen, the head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.

The VAN.EA products will focus on efficiency and performance in every aspect of the vehicle — including aerodynamics, drivetrain, tires, and chassis. The goal is to achieve a high range with an optimal battery capacity, which is directly related to vehicle weight and costs.

An Electric Van Platform With Three Parts

Mercedes VAN.EA platform
Image courtesy of Mercedes Benz Vans

The VAN.EA platform will have three distinct components. The front portion contains the front axle and electric powertrain, which will be identical in all variants built on the platform, which is part of the plan to focus on using the same parts as the basis for multiple models.

The central section can scale to accommodate the length of various models and provide a place to mount batteries of varying sizes. The rear module provides space for the rear axle and will also be standardized, with one exception. It can be fitted with a second electric motor for customers who want all-wheel drive capability.

Variations On VAN.EA

The platform for private luxury will be known as VAN.EA-P and will be oriented toward customers with the highest standards. It will be suitable for a VIP shuttle, an emissions-free mobile office, or for active families who want the ultimate in leisure travel. It will have a range of more than 500 km, which is ideal for travelers. SAE Level 2 automated driving is planned for market launch, while SAE Level 3 is planned to be available by the end of the decade.

VAN.EA-C denotes the electric van platform intended for premium commercial vans in the midsize and large segments. Mercedes claims it will be the ideal base for customers who value functionality, range, payload, and cargo space. With its modular and scalable design, the architecture is tailored for different configurations, from last mile delivery vehicles to ambulances to recreational vehicles, almost everything is conceivable. Mercedes plans to offer Level 4 autonomy for commercial customers who are able to operate in geofenced areas by the end of this decade.

Mercedes is the sales leader in vans in the European market and sees the potential for substantial growth in the United States for premium commercial large vans that are based on the VAN.EA architecture. The company expects its new vans to cater to the expectations of its sophisticated customers more strongly by offering a privately positioned midsize luxury van in the United States. It foresees annual sales growth of 6% to 8% annually.

It also will expand its portfolio of RV vans ”built from factory” with a new line of fully electric midsize and large camper vans based on VAN.EA chassis. The division aims to define the new industry standard with its international RV business partners around the world.

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Reconfiguring The Production Network

Beginning in 2026, all midsize and large vans based on the new modular architecture will be electric only. Mercedes-Benz Vans is reorganizing its global production network, starting with its first pure electric light commercial vehicles plant in Jawor, Poland. That factory aims to set new standards in terms of productivity, lean operations, and sustainability for the manufacturing of premium eLCVs worldwide.

All production sites for the VAN.EA based large vans will be net carbon neutral, as will all owned plants of Mercedes-Benz Vans. The company plans to cover 100% of the energy needs for its factories by using renewable energy from solar panels and wind power. Heat pumps will be utilized for heating in combination with geothermal and solar thermal energy. During times of peak energy usage, a small amount of biogas may be utilized.

The large cab chassis based on VAN.EA will be built in Düsseldorf, Germany. The factory in Ludwigsfelde, Germany, which today produces Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Mercedes-Benz eSprinter vans, will become a competence center for eVan customization, particularly recreational vehicles. In addition, Mercedes-Benz Vans will build VAN.EA-based midsize vans in its plant in Vitoria, Spain.

Today, Mercedes-Benz Vans offers fully electric variants in every segment, from small and midsize to large vans. With VAN.EA, Mercedes-Benz Vans is implementing the next stage of its electrification strategy. For you “van life” enthusiasts, the prospect of more electric models coming to market in the next few years is an answer to your prayers. Mercedes expects to be a leader in that market once the new VAN.EA platform is in full production.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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