Delivery company Hermes has ordered 168 electric Mercedes-Benz eSprinter vans for its fleet.

The new vans, expected to be on the road before the end of the year, will be assigned to Hermes’s ParcelShops service, which operates from convenience stores and other locations.

The deal follows a successful trial of a pair of eSprinters supplied by Intercounty Truck & Van, which will be fulfilling Hermes’s entire order, also including 132 diesel Sprinters.

Hermes has also commissioned Pod Point UK to install vehicle chargers at its network of depots.

While the eSprinters will be on long-term Mercedes-Benz Finance contract hire agreements, the diesel vans will be on one-year terms with Athlon UK, allowing Hermes to replace them with EVs as soon as chargers are in place and electric vans with longer ranges and higher carrying capacities are available. 

Hermes head of fleet David Landy said: “The transition to a zero-emission electric fleet is integral to our environment, social and governance agenda, and we’ve been keen to take the next, major step forward towards this goal.

“However, we are under no illusions – this will not be an easy journey. From a purely operational standpoint, and given the current state of the technology, whichever way you look at it – whether in terms of range, payload or volume – a van with an internal combustion engine beats an electric one hands down.

“Only when it comes to tailpipe emissions does the battery-powered vehicle outshine the diesel. So, we know there are constraints and compromises to make, and we recognise that this is going to put extra pressure and increased demands on those colleagues out in our depots who are doing a difficult job, day in, day out.”