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Network Rail goes green with Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELLs
The eight-seat all-electric Vito E-CELL Traveliners make dozens of daily journeys and produce no pollutant emissions

TWO Mercedes-Benz E-CELL Vito Traveliners have gone into service with Network Rail. They’ll be used to ferry employees between its residential leadership development centre and the local railway station.

Network Rail goes green with Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELLs
A completely discharged Vito E-CELL battery can be recharged from a 380/400volt input in a maximum of six hours.

The eight-seat all-electric Vito E-CELL Traveliners make dozens of daily journeys from Westwood, on the outskirts of Coventry, to the Tile Hill railway station less than a mile away. It’s a perfect application for emisions-free electric vehicles.

The Vito E-CELL is also available as a panel van. It’s the world’s first battery-powered light commercial vehicle to be built on line at a mainstream production facility.

The front wheels are driven by an 82hp (60kW) electric motor, allowing the space beneath the load floor to be used to store the vehicle’s lithium-ion batteries without encroaching into the passenger or cargo area.

The E-CELL uses a regenerative system to capture the energy that would otherwise be lost in braking. In addition to increasing range, this is used to power the heating and ventilation system and also the standard-fit heated seats.

The Vito E-CELL will cover an average of 80 miles between recharges.

A completely discharged battery can be recharged from a 380/400volt input in a maximum of six hours. And for safety, the ‘smart’ cable can’t be removed during charging, and nor can the Vito inadvertantly be driven off.

Network Rail goes green with Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELLs
Green team: Mercedes-Benz corporate sales key account manager Jo Corbett, flanked by Network Rail’s David Williams, left, and Steve Duffy. Behind – with their Vito E-CELLs – are head concierge Tony Dudley, left, and senior concierge Steve Bailey

To maximise range, the vans have an electronically limited top speed of 56mph.

The batteries are protected by a shock element and the high-tech voltage network is switched off when the airbag control unit activates in the event of a collision.

Volume and payload capacities are in line with those of standard models. The vans are also free from Congestion Charge and VED fees.

The factory-built Vito E-CELL mini-buses were commissioned after a year-long evaluation exercise led by Steve Duffy, Network Rail’s business support manager, national delivery service.

He told Business Vans: “The decision to invest in these vehicles was not taken lightly. The journey began a year ago, when we visited the Mercedes-Benz stand at the Commercial Vehicle Show.

“Since then we have [considered] all sorts of alternatively fuelled vehicles before  coming down in favour of an all-electric solution.

“The Vito E-CELL is  a fantastic piece of kit and meets all of our targets in terms of sustainability, so I’d like to think that before long we’ll have more electric Vito models in service in other parts of our business.”

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