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September 22, 2016 10:50 AM, EDT

Volkswagen Shows Off Electric Commercial Van Concept

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles debuted its electric e-Crafter concept van Sept. 21, with a range of about 124 miles and designed for urban deliveries.

The company said the van can handle loads up to 3,750 pounds and has 400 cubic feet of cargo space. Designed for city deliveries, the concept vehicle has a top speed of only 50 miles per hour.

The e-Crafter is “near production-ready” according to Volkswagen, with the first vehicles expected to be in customers’ hands by 2017. The company showed off the vehicle at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover, Germany.

RELATED: Daimler shows three electric concept vehicles focused on urban transportation

The van’s battery pack is made up of 312 cells and is stored under the cargo space floor. The batteries can be charged up to 80% in 45 minutes. 

“The e-Crafter's design already takes into account future battery developments, with which — depending on customer requirements and specification — freely configurable ranges of up to [250 miles] become possible,” the company said in a statement.

The company also announced at IAA its heavy-duty division MAN has developed a cloud-based platform called RIO, capable of connecting those in the freight transport business, including haulers, dispatchers and receivers, while feeding truck drivers traffic and navigation data. Truck makers are looking for new revenue from connected services that can make vehicles safer and more efficient. For large truck fleets, that can mean big savings.

Through RIO, logistics firms will be able to better use vehicle capacity, reduce empty journeys, save fuel and avoid traffic jams, VW said in a statement published on the eve of the Hanover trucks show. "This is good news for our customers because their business will become more profitable," Volkswagen Truck & Bus head Andreas Renschler said.

The new digital services are a challenge to rivals Daimler and Volvo AB as truck makers are looking for new revenue from connected services that can make vehicles safer and more efficient.