Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive News
Mercedes-Benz promised last year to offer 10 plug-in hybrids before the end of 2017. Now the company is saying it will add four pure electric cars to its lineup by 2020. These tandem goals, if fulfilled, would fill Mercedes dealerships with a wide array of plug-in sedans and SUVs
The mere fact that a car can use grid-supplied energy no longer grabs headlines the way it did just a few years ago. Nonetheless, notable plug-ins from Hyundai, Honda, Audi, Volkswagen, and Mercedes could be found in Detroit.
There's an argument that a bigger battery pack is more important than greater efficiency, when it comes to range. Under “normal” charging, the Mercedes EV fully charges to 28 kilowatt-hours. But when the “range plus package” is employed, it pushes utilization to about 31.4 kilowatt-hours. Using that number compared to the i3’s usable capacity of 18.8, and the delta between the two is 67 percent.
Judging from my brief time behind the wheel of both cars, they will equally deliver the high level of handling and comfort expected from a BMW or Mercedes.
It's a pity Mercedes hasn't green-lighted the development of a fuel cell version of its newer B-class. As the electric version (with a Tesla-sourced powertrain) is coming soon, a fuel cell model would have given the world the exact comparison test that everybody is waiting for. Same car and same motor, with the only difference being in the energy storage: battery or fuel cell.
With the B-Class Electric Drive, Mercedes took a completely different approach than BMW did with the i3. That’s notable because the Mercedes press kit lists the i3 as the chief competition for the electric B-Class. They are both premium electric vehicles from German manufacturers, and will likely have very similar range and price. They are both hatchbacks, although the Benz seats five and is larger than the BMW.
The BMW i3 isn’t due to launch in the U.S. until next year, but with the European launch only a few weeks away, glowing test-drive reports are flooding in. With 8,000 reservations already taken in Europe alone, the i3 could be a winner. That will only raise the stakes for Mercedes, as its all-electric B class competes with the i3 for EV buyers.
It won't be available before late 2014 or early 2015, but the spokesperson I spoke with in Frankfurt quickly added that it will be available at the end of next Spring in America. WHAT? What's this stupid idea that Americans should be served first?
Tesla will show off a new all-electric version of its compact MPV in Paris next week. The car, in a gas version at least, is probably headed for the U.S. The battery car is slated for the road in 2014.
Mercedes-Benz says it will unveil a production-ready version of the B-Class E-Cell at the 2012 New York Auto Show in April, and could add the vehicle to its US lineup in 2013. But based on past statements, we shouldn't expect much from the German automaker.