Questions and answers on the lithium-ion battery in electrically powered Mercedes-Benz vans.

Anyone toying with the idea of buying an eSprinter or an eVito, will almost certainly have a few questions – above all concerning the lithium-ion battery. We answer the five most fundamental questions here.

Your own electricity provider under your feet.

The most important component of every electric vehicle is located neither beneath the bonnet nor in the cockpit. Without the battery in the vehicle floor the eSprinter and eVito wouldn't move an inch. It forms the basis for the drivetrain of every electric van. And even if they hardly differ in the way they work: the requirements of batteries for an electric vehicle are somewhat more demanding than for a drill or a smartphone battery. It is only as a result of huge battery capacities that electromobility has been able to mature to become an alternative to vehicles equipped with a combustion engine. So what does a customer need to know about these high-performance energy storage devices? Here are the facts.

1. How does the battery in an electric vehicle work?

The battery of an electrically powered vehicle is a collection of battery cells which are combined in several battery modules. These battery cells ensure that chemical energy is transformed into electric energy. Essentially, nothing else happens here other than with conventional household batteries: in the interior of each individual battery cell there are two electrodes – called an anode and a cathode – within a conductive medium. A separator divides the cell in the middle and thus prevents short circuiting. The excess of electrons at the anode makes the electrons move via a cable to the cathode. The result is that electricity flows. In our case through the induction motor of the vehicle. If all the electrons of the lithium-ion battery are used by the motor, the electric "fuel tank" is empty. Once they arrive at the battery cell's other pole, the electrons have to return to their point of origin – in other words, the opposite pole. The electricity supplied during charging ensures that this happens.

2. Which factors determine the range and charging duration?

Driving style, road conditions, outside temperature – many factors influence the range of an electric vehicle. And it is precisely through the optimisation of the driving style that the odd additional kilometre can be gained. But in terms of range, the fundamental issue is of course the size of the battery itself. A larger battery promises more range, but at the same time increases the vehicle weight. In the long term a larger battery can also provide a greater service life than a smaller one. The reason for this is that, due to its size, the battery is used more sparingly than its smaller counterpart when it comes to capacity and electrical power conversion. On the topic of charging duration, let it be said in this context that it depends first and foremost on the battery size and the charging station used. As a general rule: the smaller the battery, the faster it is charged.

3. What lifespan does a battery have?

Lithium-ion batteries are subject to an ageing process that is unavoidable for many technological products. The actual age of the battery also plays a role here. Extremely high or low outside temperatures can also result in a slight decrease in capacity. On the other hand, the long-term capacity of a high-voltage battery also depends on the number of charging cycles. Worries about the battery are nevertheless unfounded where the eSprinter and eVito are concerned. For six years and a mileage of 100,000 km in the case of the eVito and 160,000 km in the case of the eSprinter, Mercedes-Benz guarantees a battery capacity of at least 70%.

4. How is a battery disposed of?

Mercedes-Benz and its partners work tirelessly on existing and new methods of battery disposal. The main focus is on the reuse of the individual components and renewable raw materials. Various chemical and mechanical processes facilitate a separation of the used battery cells into their individual parts. After brief processing they can then be used in new battery cells. For example, the high-voltage battery in the eVito doesn't land in the scrap yard, but becomes part of future batteries. Alternatively, valuable materials such as rare metals can be reclaimed from the discarded batteries and subsequently reused. Sustainable concepts – such as use as energy storage units – offer a second life to used vehicle batteries.

5. Is a van with a battery dangerous?

At Mercedes-Benz, safety has top priority when it comes to both electric motors and combustion engines. In order to make the fascinating technology behind the lithium-ion battery even safer, extensive safety measures are an integral part of the eVito and eSprinter. The crash-safe frame protects the battery, electrical cables and other components against damage during an accident. In such a case, the vehicle immediately recognises the danger and switches off all electrical voltage in the system. This means that even in a severe accident there is no additional danger to vehicle occupants and rescue crews.

The battery in the vehicle floor.

As practical as ever: the eVito also offers a generous load compartment.

Charging made easy.

Mercedes me ensures carefree charging.

Elegant and efficient – the eSprinter.

From the outside only the "e" alludes to this being an electric Sprinter.

Photos:

Daimler Global Media

More links to discover:

The Mercedes-Benz eVan eco-system.

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