The 2013 New York International Auto Show hosted the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive in final production trim. With a driving range of around 115 miles (200 km), the electric B-Class will first launch in the USA at the beginning of 2014 as the brand’s first luxury electric car on the market.
Based on the conventionally powered B-Class, the Electric Drive version will in fact be the only B-Class model available in the United States. Powered by an electric motor generating more than 100 kW (134 HP) and 310 Nm (228.6 lb-ft) of peak torque, the B-Class Electric Drive covers the 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) sprint in “considerably less than 10 seconds,” according to Mercedes’ press release. Top speed is limited to 100 mph (160 km/h).
The engine draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery that is placed in the vehicle’s underfloor, in the so-called “Energy Space”, a solution that helps save space and make the car safer in case of an impact. Thanks to this solution, the B-Class Electric Drive has the same interior and luggage space as the regular model.
The electric hatch can be recharged at any standard household power socket, with charging time for a range of about 60 miles (96 km) standing at less than 2 hours at 240V/40A in the USA (1.5 hours at 400V in Europe).
One of the highlights of the B-Class EV is the Vehicle Homepage, which allows the driver to easily access the vehicle via the Internet, using a PC or smartphone. With this feature, it is possible to check the current charge status of the lithium-ion battery or to verify the vehicle’s current range on a map. The driver can also set pre-heating or cooling of the vehicle’s interior.
The exterior and interior are almost identical to those of the conventionally-powered B-Class models sold in Europe, except for the EV-specific features. The new B-Class Electric Drive will be available in the USA in early 2014 with Europe to follow later in the year.
By Dan Mihalascu