The Mercedes-Benz all-electric Urban eTruck is to enter the market this year in small series production following an "outstanding" customer reaction to its debut at IAA in Hannover last year.

Zero-emission, "quiet as a whisper" and with a payload of 12.8 tonnes and a range up to 200km, Mercedes said the Urban eTruck offers an economical, environmentally friendly option for operators.

Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks worldwide, said: “We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs and logistics sectors. With the small series, we are now rapidly taking the next step towards a series product. By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation."

The first few units will go to customers in Germany, followed by additional units elsewhere in Europe.

Mercedes said the aim of the trials was to learn from real-life applications and requirements, coupled with customer feedback, to further optimise the electric truck’s design.

Tests will include use in shift operation, charging times, plus battery and range management.

Buchner added: “When it comes to future technological issues, we have set the standards in the sector, for instance with regard to electric and autonomous driving plus connectivity.

"2017 will now be our year of implementation: step by step we are developing the vehicles and systems to achieve market maturity.”

In order to be able to test the various application possibilities, 18- and 25-tonne models will be equipped with refrigerated, dry box and platform bodies.

Together with a special charger that takes into account the increased demands on a truck, the vehicles will be handed over to the customers to use for a period of 12 months, during which they will be supported by Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ road testing department.

The Urban eTruck is part of a wider electric initiative from Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler Trucks. Its light-duty Fuso eCanter electric truck will be in use in a global small series in 2017: around 150 vehicles will be handed over to selected customers in Europe, Japan and the USA.