The British business unit of parcel service provider Hermes has ordered 168 Mercedes-Benz eSprinters. The order is being handled by the Mercedes dealer Intercounty Truck & Van, and the electric vans will go into operation before the end of the year.

It is the first major investment in battery-powered vans for Hermes UK and follows a trial run with two eSprinters from a depot in north London. Under the deal Hermes will rent the eSprinters through Mercedes-Benz Finance.

Hermes will use the electric vehicles to support its ParcelShop business. ParcelShop is a network of shops that offer themselves as pick-up and delivery locations. According to Hermes, “more than 5,000 shops and other locations are served” by this service and the logistics between the locations are handled by 450 vehicles or more at peak times.

The eSprinter is powered by a 114hp electric motor that drives the front wheels and will travel 95 miles on a single charge.

Its 55kWh high-voltage battery pack is securely mounted beneath the body, so does not impinge on cargo carrying space. As a result, the eSprinter’s 11m3 load volume is identical to that of its diesel-engined, front-wheel drive stablemate, and half a cubic metre larger than its rear-wheel drive equivalent.

Using an 80kW DC fast-charging cable, the eSprinter’s four parallel batteries can be restored from 10% to 80% of maximum capacity in about 30 minutes.

To help electrify its fleet, Hermes has also contracted charging infrastructure company Pod Point to install charging points at its depots. Installation is already underway, with an initial focus on London and other cities with low-emission zones.