Are EVs the future? Most automakers have their doubts, but that hasn’t stopped them from building electric cars that they hope people will buy. Mercedes is revealing its latest electric concept car, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive. The most interesting feature of this Mercedes? A new battery structure that allows for the same amount of interior space as a conventional B-class.
As a luxury brand, Mercedes cannot expect to sell “cheap” electric vehicles (unless they’re Smart Cars…), and their consumer base certainly has the pockets to pay for this new technology. But these same buyers don’t want any vehicle that makes them compromise on things like legroom or versatility.
To that end, Mercedes made what they call an “Energy Space” ahead of the rear axle, beneath the back seats. This means the battery does not eat into the interior space of the B-class compared to petrol-powered versions. Other battery-powered vehicles like the Chevy Volt have had to make compromises to fit the battery; in the case of the Volt, eliminating the rear-middle seat.
The Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive uses a 100 kW/134 horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery of unmentioned size to give the B-Class a range of around 125 miles. Getting over the 100-mile mark should make the Mercedes B-Class much more appealing to wealthy urban dwellers, who could take it on a short road trip without too much worry. Sure, its no Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell electric supercar…but the B-Class Electric Drive should have a much wider, more practical appeal.
With up a 230-volt and 400-volt recharge port, the B-Class Electric drive can be recharged in as little as an hour. However, the B-Class is still 35 miles behind the 160 miles of the base-class Tesla Model S sedan, a car many reviewers call the best EV on the market.
Can Mercedes-Benz be the automaker to bring electric cars to the well-heeled masses? Or is Tesla (whom Mercedes’ parent company Daimler had a working relationship with) too far ahead in the luxury EV Market? For now, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is making its debut at the Paris Auto Show, where hopefully more details will be revealed. From there, who knows?