Mercedes-Benz has revealed VAN.EA, a modular, scalable, architecture for its electric vans. Short for Van Electric Architecture, the new platform will be used to build all newly-developed vans from Mercedes-Benz starting in 2026.
Here, the OEM’s Mercedes-Benz Vans division confirmed that all future midsize and large vans, for both private and commercial purposes, will be built on VAN.EA. Ultimately, it is aiming for these vans, and others built on the platform, to add value for its customers and to their individual needs from it. In integrating VAN.EA more closely into its product portfolio, Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to reduce the complexity of its current portfolio of purpose-built EVs. Through this activity, the company expects to reduce the number of portfolio variants by more than 50%, when compared to its current line-up of ICE vans while covering the same set of use cases for its customers.
VAN.EA itself will focus on helping electric vans achieve enhanced efficiency and performance across numerous elements – including aerodynamics, drivetrain, tires, and the chassis. Focusing on these areas will similarly support a key goal for Mercedes-Benz Vans has for the platform – to help the vehicle built on it reach a high all-electric driving range with an optimal battery capacity. Another key quality of VAN.EA is its modularity and scalability, which will enable enhanced scale effects and synergies through the introduction of more efficient process across the development and production cycles.
The platform is made up of three key modules, with one located at the front, another at the center, and another at the rear. Its front module houses the van’s powertrain and front axle – both of which are retained across all variants of VAN.EA in an optimized common parts strategy. The center module scales the vehicle length and is where the standardized battery case can be found. Inside the case, high-voltage batteries of different capacities can be installed according to the customer’s requirements. The rear module will be available in two versions – one of which offers an electric motor tailored for the platform’s AWD variants, and another without this motor works to support its FWD variants. The customization offered to customers through these modules aims to provide a clear differentiation between the vans built for private and commercial use, while maximizing synergies.
In its VAN.EA-P variant, the platform caters for privately positioned vans in the midsize segment and targets a broad range of consumers, including lifestyle-oriented customers, those looking for a mobile office, and families travelling to leisure-active activities. In supporting such activities, both inside and outside cities, VAN.EA-P is expected to offer more than 310 miles (500 kilometers) of electric driving range. The variant’s integrated chip-to-cloud architecture, MB.OS, leverages its ‘always on’ functionality to further serve this purpose and handle a variety of everyday challenges. At market launch, Mercedes-Benz has said that this version will provide assisted driving capabilities rated at SAE Level 2, while it plans for additional capabilities rated at SAE Level 3 to be realized before the end of the decade.
For commercial customers, the VAN.EA-C variant offers benefits in functionality, reach, payload, and cargo space. Designed as a base for premium commercial vans in the midsize and large segments, it serves a more precise set of purposes than its private counterpart – offering various configurations and upfitter solutions for courier, express, and parcel (CEP) delivery vehicles; ambulances; eGrocery vans; municipal vans; flatbed vans; lifting platforms; RVs, and more. The version of MB.OS found in VAN.EA-C offers additional digital features, including access to third-party apps. While offering the same SAE Level 2 functions at market launch as VAN.EA-P, Mercedes-Benz is looking to realize SAE Level 4 functionality for this variant by the end of the decade. In doing so, it hopes to highlight the business potential of driverless transportation. In addition to these two variants, Mercedes-Benz Vans also plans to develop a variant of the platform tailored to the CEP industry focused on its upper price bands.
While offering a flexible, modular, solution to electric van architecture, VAN.EA will also play a key role in the strategies and goals of Mercedes-Benz Vans. Here, it will help the division increase its sales by 2030 and expand its product portfolio through the addition of new, VAN.EA-based, commercial vans. In the U.S. and China, it plans to provide private vans based on the platform in a luxury positioning to meet the expectations of its customers in both regions. For the U.S. market in particular, Mercedes-Benz Vans will use VAN.EA to develop an all-new privately positioned midsize luxury van. In addition to these vehicles, it will also use the platform to expand its portfolio of ex-factory camper vans, with plans to develop a new line of all-electric large and midsize models that use it as a base.
The platform’s production and manufacturing operations will take place at different plants across Europe. The Mercedes-Benz Vans plant in Jawor, Poland will act as a production site for large vans based on VAN.EA and operate as a net carbon neutral facility. At the Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf, Germany, a large cab chassis based on the platform will be built – while its plant in Ludwigsfelde will shift its focus and become a competence center for eVan customization. Supporting these operations is the Mercedes-Benz Vans plant in Vitoria, Spain, which will build VAN.EA-based midsize vans. While the company confirmed that other plants will follow, details of these plans have yet to be shared.