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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.”

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Is BMW Going Front-Wheel Drive?

1-Series GT reportedly due to debut in Paris next autumn.

by on Jun.11, 2012

Is BMW ready to adopt front-wheel-drive? Apparently on at least one new model to come.

While it’s probably not the end of the world some might see another sign of the apocalypse in BMW’s apparent plan to introduce its first front-wheel-drive model at the upcoming Paris Motor Show.

The new offering will bear the badge of a 1-Series GT and is reportedly going to share the same platform as the next-generation Mini, according to our friends at Autoblog and Britain’s Autocar.

Other sources suggest it will also be dubbed the new Compact Activity Tourer, or CAV, reflecting its tall, crossover-like shape.  It would complement, rather than replace the new X1 Sport Activity Vehicle, or SAV.  It’s expected to feature a higher seating position than other 1-Series models, much like BMW’s current 5-Series GT.

The new 1-er GT is apparently being developed to compete with the latest-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class line.

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BMW Chairman Norbert Reithof first signaled the possibility of a front-driver back in 2010 and the upcoming update of the Mini was a perfect opportunity.  Like all automakers, BMW is intent on improving its economies of scale by sharing components wherever possible.  Nonetheless, purists were hoping the maker would back away from that strategy and retain its focus on rear- or all-wheel-drive across the line-up.

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Economic Turmoil? Where? Not at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Despite worries of a global double-dip recession, biennial German show draws the crowds.

by on Sep.27, 2011

The Ford Evos was one of an estimated 100 new cars, crossovers and concepts to make a debut at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show.

With one of the biggest displays of new cars, crossovers and concept vehicles ever, the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show saw public attendance surge by 10%, according to the show’s organizers, suggesting the auto industry’s future is brighter than the turmoil in the financial markets might suggest.

The Frankfurt show, which describes itself as the world’s “most important mobility trade fair” opened on September 15 and closed its gates 10 days later, with a preliminary count of 928,000 paying visitors, organizers reported.

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“This stream of visitors demonstrates that for many people the fascination exerted by cars continues unabated” proclaimed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, in a statement summing up the show.

“In these times of turbulence on the finance markets, the IAA has sent out strong signals of stability in manufacturing and of automotive growth. For the politicians, here it has become visible and comprehensible, just how strong the manufacturing sector is, and the innovative drive for the future that characterizes this industry,” Wissman added.

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Daimler Chief Zetsche Facing Involuntary Manslaughter Probe

Exec was not behind wheel when accident occurred.

by on Sep.16, 2011

Daimler Chief Dieter Zetsche (l), with Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week.

Daimler AG Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche is facing an involuntary manslaughter probe over the death of an engineer at a company test track in northern Germany, Stuttgarter Zeitung has reported.

The possible charges are considered unusual in that Zetsche was Zetsche was not behind the wheel of the car that crashed and, Daimler AG said in a statement, one court has already cleared the executive, of any charges of gross negligence.

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“In legal proceedings against the perpetrator of the accident before the Papenburg District Court on July 12, both the judge and the public prosecutor explicitly stated that the company Daimler, and consequently also the Chairman of the Board of Management, were in no way to blame,” the company said Friday.

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First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Small cars are big in luxury.

by on Sep.15, 2011

Mercedes-Benz is betting the new version of its B-Class will help it gain ground in the market for small luxury cars.

Small cars are big these days, as the posters for the Frankfurt Motor Show declare.  And while that’s probably no surprise among mainstream brands like Volkswagen, which focused much of its news conference on the micro-sized Up! line, even luxury makers are getting into the downsizing game.

This year’s big European auto show brings out a variety of models designed to show that luxury doesn’t have to be measured by the pounds and inches – er, kilograms and meters – though many of the offerings on display, such as the Audi A2, are glimpses of products yet to come.  Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, says the time is now with the remake of its compact B-Class people-mover.

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Adopting an all-new chassis and a significantly refined look, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class is one of roughly a half-dozen new small car models the German luxury icon is planning to bring to market in the next year or so.

The B-Car will start rolling into showrooms by autumn, in fact.  And Mercedes will have a lot riding on it as the maker’s earlier take on the compact luxury class generated only moderate sales, at best when compared to rivals like BMW and Audi.

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