The Vito E-Cell took pride of place on the manufacturer’s stand.

Van sales and marketing boss Steve Bridge claims the E-Cell will be the first electric van produced by a volume manufacturer complete with an integrated warranty like the rest of the line-up. The E-Cell has an 80 mile range and can be recharged in six hours for less than £5, he says.

Initial volumes will be low with just 50 units coming to the UK this year.

The first two RHD models arrive in June and Mercedes is anxious to ensure the vans are placed beneficially for customers and manufacturer alike. With no real charging infrastructure established this means with “urban back to base operators”.

As Bridge told What Van? “The change from diesel to electric will take place on our watch, but not in the flick of a switch.”

He emphasised early adapters must work closely with the manufacturer – the priority being to get the first 50 placements right.

“It will boil down to ‘do they work in real life?’” he said.

Bridge predicted Mercedes would establish a network of alternative fuel specialist dealers in conurbations and also sell directly to major fleets and operators connected to the London Olympics.

“The Olympics is plugged as the zero emissions games,” he said.

In order to upgrade E-Cell vans for customers as technology advances, Bridge said leasing the vans was the best solution, for example over a four-year period for £1300 a month.

But he stressed: “We need to be flexible and provide bespoke solutions.”