Mercedes offering virtual test drives of its electric van range

German automotive giant Mercedes-Benz is hoping to convince end users that an electric van should be their next purchase by offering free virtual test drives. Consumers still have many questions about how an electric vehicle will perform in real-world scenarios, so Mercedes is hoping to answer these questions and more with a series of free apps that aim to assist with buying decisions.

The three apps – the EQ Ready App, the eCharging Planner and the eCost Calculator are designed to provide precise information about the economic efficiency and performance of the Mercedes eSprinter, eVito, eVito Touerer and EQV. So, how do they work?

The EQ Ready App aims to demonstrate whether an electrically powered van is appropriate for a particular application by recording the user’s real journeys using data such as speed, acceleration, stops, loads and then gives a detailed assessment and prognosis for how an electric vehicle would perform under these conditions. This app can also calculate how feasible a journey is based on data about traffic, speed limits and uphill and downhill gradients. It can also give the user a list of charging stations in the vicinity of their route.

The eCharging Planner aims to provide the user with all the information they need to ensure their vehicle is always charged sufficiently. The Energy module determines the vehicle's annual energy costs based on operating times, electricity prices and a few other factors and then compares them with those of the respective combustion-engine vehicle. The Charging module provides information about the correct wallbox for charging, while "Installation" allows you to estimate the expenditure involved in its installation. The "Result" module provides a transparent summary of all data including expected operating costs and the break-even point compared with a combustion-engine vehicle.

Lastly, the eCost Calculator helps answer that eternal question: which is cheaper, a battery electric van or a combustion engine. It can compare the annual operating costs of a vehicle currently in use with those of an electric Mercedes-Benz van and take into account everything from leasing instalments, to driving performance and fuel costs, maintenance, taxation and insurance.