Customers of temperature-controlled vehicle hire and leasing specialist Freezerent can now choose one of the first refrigerated versions of the fully electric Mercedes-Benz eSprinter van.
Available on a ‘spot’ rental or longer-term contract hire basis, the eye-catching vehicle is the result of a partnership between Wolverhampton-based Freezerent and Mercedes-Benz Dealer Midlands Truck & Van. The refrigerated conversion was carried out by Solomon Commercials, while the fridge unit and evaporator are by GAH.
Developed in response to demand from Freezerent customers, the temperature-controlled eSprinter is aimed at operators undertaking multi-drop delivery work in cities, more of which are now following London by introducing their own emissions zones.
Launched last autumn, the 3.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz eSprinter has brought a welcome injection of premium quality, practicality, driver appeal, and safety to the segment for large, zero-emission vans.
It is powered by an electric motor that produces 114 hp and 295 Nm of torque, and drives the front wheels. Research by Mercedes-Benz confirms that at 96 miles (combined WLTP with 80 km/h speed limiter) the eSprinter’s range is ample for the majority of last mile and urban delivery applications.
The 55 kWh high-voltage battery pack is securely mounted beneath the body, so does not impinge on cargo carrying space. Indeed, the eSprinter’s load volume capacity is key to its appeal. Available in a single size – L2 (medium) length, H2 (high) roof – the standard vehicle offers a load volume of 11m3, which is identical to its diesel-engined, front-wheel drive L2 H2 stablemate, and half a cubic metre more than its rear-wheel drive equivalent.
The latest addition to the Freezerent fleet has a single compartment and is designed to operate as a chiller. The fully electric GAH SRF271e refrigeration unit is powered by independent lithium ion batteries, which means it does not impact the vehicle’s range. These batteries are neatly stored behind a chequer plate-protected panel in the bulkhead fitted by Solomon Commercials, so the cargo area available for product is only very marginally reduced.
Payload is compromised by the weight of the additional batteries, as well as the insulation, fridge and evaporator, but the vehicle still offers a very practical allowance of around 500 kg. As Freezerent Managing Director Lee Dorward explained: “There are plenty of environmentally focused operators out there for whom load volume, rather than carrying capacity, is the key requirement in a temperature-controlled delivery vehicle.
“Clearly, this emissions-free technology is still in its infancy, and I’ve no doubt that over time we’ll see payloads and ranges increase as batteries become lighter and more efficient. Nevertheless, customers are asking about what’s available right now, so we felt it was only appropriate that we should draw on the experience of leading suppliers and give them an opportunity to try one of the very first refrigerated eSprinters.”
The decision to base its first electric van on a Mercedes-Benz was an obvious one for Freezerent, which offers temperature-controlled vehicles on flexible short-, medium- and long-term contracts.
Established by Mr Dorward in 2005, the company has since purchased almost 500 Sprinters. Today, the multi-award-winning model accounts for all but a small handful of the vehicles on its 250-strong fleet – it also has another 100 currently on order from Midlands Truck & Van, a Dealer with which it has been working since day one.
Underlining its commitment to the latest technology, Freezerent relies heavily on the latest Sprinter’s intelligently connected Mercedes PRO connect system, which provides operators with access to a wide range of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management services that contribute to improved efficiency, productivity, safety and security.
In the eSprinter, PRO connect can remotely monitor battery status and provide fleet managers with real-time updates, enabling them encourage drivers to adopt a more range-conscious style at the wheel, while also helping them to plan charge stops and minimise downtime.
“PRO connect is brilliant, a great addition to the range,” enthused Mr Dorward. “It allows us proactively to manage maintenance issues and was also instrumental in helping the police to track down three vehicles at different locations in London within a couple of hours of them being reported as stolen.”
He added: “This has been a very exciting project, one that establishes a foothold for Freezerent in a segment that’s bound to grow dramatically over the next few years, while also underscoring our position as a leading provider of advanced, temperature-controlled transport solutions.”
Midlands Truck & Van has taken a share of the risk on the new electric van in the form of a highly attractive lease agreement. Its Fleet Sales Manager Joe Lynock commented: “Freezerent is a loyal and highly valued customer, so we were only too happy to lend our backing to Lee’s initiative. The new vehicle looks fantastic and proves that for the right operator a fully electric, refrigerated van is now a viable and potentially very attractive proposition.”