BerlKönig, a service created by ViaVan and Berlin's public transport company (BVG), has been up and running in the German city of Berlin since Autumn 2018. BerlKönig's percentage of electric-powered Mercedes-Benz Vans is already greater than 50 percent and they hope to continue expansion. In fact, by the end of 2020, BerlKönig hopes to be operating an all-electric fleet.
What will interest UK taxi and private hire drivers most about this service is the nineteen Mercedes-Benz eVito Tourer’s, the electric powered offspring of the successful Vito, currently being used within the BerlKönig’s fleet. The diesel Mercedes-Benz Vito taxi conversion still remains popular in the UK. Just recently, there has been calls to reintroduce the Euro 6 Vito back into the London black cab market by City Hall officials. The electric eVito offers emission-free driving and low noise emission travelling. That’s coupled with what Mercedes claim is great comfort for passengers in a vehicle that’s tailor-made for transporting people in inner cities.
The vehicle has an installed battery capacity of 41 kWh, and the vehicle offers a total range of between 156 and 186 kilometres. The current downside is that unlike other electric vehicles, you cannot connect the eVito up to a rapid charging point to boost the battery quickly. Mercedes say that after a charging time of six hours, the entire range is again available for use, depended on charging infrastructure. The battery-electric drive system delivers an output of 85 kW and up to 295 Newton metres of torque. The positioning of the battery in the underbody of the eVito Tourer creates a generously spacious interior without any restrictions, and thus allows as many as eight passenger seats, more than ample space for a working taxi, to be fitted. The mid-size van can be ordered with one of two different wheelbases. The basic variant has a total length of 5140 millimetres. Meanwhile, the extra-long version measures 5370 millimetres. The cost of the eVito could however make the vehicle an interesting taxi convert option. Prices currently start at roughly £35,500 before Government plug-in grants. However, there is another Mercedes-Benz van pushing to become the next black cab electric convert. That being the EQV. The new EQV was recently shown to the public for the first time at this year's IAA in September. The most eye catching news surrounding its design is the massive 405 kilometres range, thats 252 miles to us in the UK, although it must be noted that these remain provisional figures from Mercedes. Another impressive feature of the vehicle is the rapid charging of the high-voltage battery from 10 to 80 per cent in less than an hour. That’s a big improvement from the eVito’s 6 hour offering and battery lower range. However the downside, the price. A non-modified EQV is expected to start at £60,000. That price raises questions as to whether the EQV can be an affordable convert to a wheelchair accessible black cab at a cost that drivers are willing to pay. What Mercedes will be most suitable to the UK taxi market? Time will tell.