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Mercedes Plugs in with B-Class Electric

German maker enters the battery-car market.

by on Mar.27, 2013

Mercedes rolled out its B-Class Electric at the New York Auto Show.

Slow to embrace the first wave of hybrid power, German luxury makers seem to be in a race to see who can now add more battery-based models to their line-up. We saw a flood of new offerings at the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this month, including the first plug-in hybrid from Audi, the A3 e-Tron, as well as the production version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive supercar.

Mercedes plugs into the New York Auto Show with a decidedly different take on battery propulsion, its new B-Class Electric Drive making its world debut on the German maker’s stand at Jacob Javits Center.

Set to go on sale in the U.S. early next year – likely with a focus on the green-minded California market – the Electric Drive is a battery-electric version of the maker’s compact people-mover, and the only version of the B-Class scheduled for sale in the States.

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This is no stripped down electric. It will be filled with the sort of up-market touches you’d expect from the tri-star brand, asserts Dr. Joachim Schmidt, the Mercedes board member responsible for sales and marketing: “The B-Class Electric Drive meets the wishes of many customers for emission-free driving without foregoing the hallmark attributes of a Mercedes-Benz, namely safety, comfort and, of course, not to forget exhilarating driving pleasure.”

Room for five with a range of 115 miles the B-Class Electric is aimed at the California market.

The heart of the five-seat Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is a lithium-powered electric motor that produces 134 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque. That’s roughly equivalent to a 3.0-liter gas engine, Mercedes suggests, enough to launch the battery car from zero to 60 in less than 10 seconds. Top speed is an electronically limited 100 mph.

Hidden beneath the floor of the passenger compartment, the lithium-ion pack holds 28 kilowatt-hours of energy, enough for as much as 115 miles per charge, Mercedes claims, though final EPA numbers have yet to be released. A two-hour charge at 220 volts should yield about 60 miles of range.

The basic shape of the Electric Drive is all but identical to conventionally powered versions of the Mercedes B-Class, though a few tweaks have been made to enhance range-extending aerodynamics.

The interior also echoes the standard-issue B-Class, including the seemingly free-floating telematics system. But some of the display technology has been updated to track functions specific to the vehicle’s battery drive. That includes a special power display that shows when power is being drawn down – or when it is being recaptured by the Electric Driver’s regenerative braking system.

Like other makers exploring the nascent battery car market, Mercedes plans to keep a close eye on the vehicles it puts into the field and it will permit remote check-up and remote configuration of vehicle operations. Buyers also will be able to use a special smartphone app for the “pre-entry” climate control function – saving energy by pre-heating or cooling the B-Class Electric Drive while it’s still connected to a charger.

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One Response to “Mercedes Plugs in with B-Class Electric”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    I’m not sure this model would even sell in reasonable numbers in Europe with $7/gal. fuel prices?