Mercedes is using the impending COP26 climate conference to highlight its EV efforts — and show how sustainability can involve more than a switch to battery power. The newly unveiled Sustaineer delivery van concept is fully electric, as you’d guess, but it also improves the environment around it. Fine particulate filters on the front and underbody purify the air around the van no matter what its speed. It even uses cast iron, ceramic-coated disc brakes that both reduce the amount of dust in the air and limit brake wear. The Sustaineer also has solar panels on its roof to extend the range and reduce the need for plug-in charging (this sometimes contributes to CO2 emissions). It can further power devices whether or not the van is running, such as tools and laptops. Solar power on electrified vehicles is nothing new, but Mercedes clearly hopes implementations like this would keep EVs as green as possible.
Other eco-conscious technology includes an energy-saving heating system that hews close to the body (including the seatbelt) and heavy use of recycled materials. The filler is made from household waste, the cab partition is built from natural straw and the underbody includes recycled polypropylene and used tires. Mercedes lowers noise pollution, too, thanks to a quiet electric drivetrain, low rolling resistance tires, and a hushed automatic delivery door. Safety is a concern as well. A camera monitors road conditions to share reports of potholes and other hazards with cities, while digital mirrors provide a clearer field of view than you normally get with cargo vans. A “biologically active” light keeps the driver alert by filling the cab with illumination similar to daylight while maintaining a natural rhythm. There are no mentions of plans to mass-produce the Sustaineer. With that said, Mercedes stressed that all the van’s technology was crafted with large-scale production in mind. You might see this in other vans, not to mention other Mercedes vehicles. The company already has other green tech on the horizon, such as sustainable repairs for EV batteries in 2022, and Sustaineer is ultimately a logical extension of those plans.