Munich: Mercedes-Benz is ramping up its offering of electric delivery vans after Deutsche Post AG switched from customer to competitor with the successful rollout of a no-frills battery-powered vehicle.

In the second half of 2018, the Daimler AG unit will start deliveries of the €39,990 ($33,100) eVito, which offers a driving range of 150km (94 miles), the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said Monday in a statement. An electric version of the larger Mercedes Sprinter will follow in 2019.

“We are convinced by the necessity of electric drive in our vans," especially amid growing concerns over air quality in city centers, Volker Mornhinweg, who heads Mercedes’s van division, said in the statement. “The eVito is the starting point" and will be followed by the Sprinter and the smaller Citan.

Deutsche Post has teamed up with Ford Motor Co. on the StreetScooter, a bare-bones van without air conditioning and radio. Daimler balked at producing a similar vehicle because of the standards associated with Mercedes vehicles. The move by Europe’s largest postal service shows the risks facing traditional vehicle makers as the advent of new technology opens the doors to new competitors.

To support the rollout of the battery-powered vans, Mercedes plans to flank the vehicles with offers to provide driver training and advise customers about on-site charging stations. Parcel delivery service Hermes will in turn provide Daimler feedback on future vans as part of a cooperation agreement that includes plans for a fleet of 1,500 electric Vito and Sprinter models by 2020. Bloomberg