The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is very different from the norm for Mercedes. Instead of the big V-8s featured across the network, this little car hums along silently on batteries driving its front wheels. It will be the first all-electric vehicle from Mercedes-Benz, and the first of any B-Class to cross the pond. This matches the latest company strategy to fatten the range of models from all sides.
Most of the systems that charge and run the little B-Class will be shared with its bright-yellow sibling: the upcoming SLS AMG Coupe E-Cell . Both systems are part of a deep tech partnership between Mercedes parent company Daimler and Tesla. Fruit from this sharing agreement has been limited to date, and arguably, some of the most sour fruit on the branch via the Smart ED . That car ran Tesla Roadster parts, but downsized. The resulting “car” was appallingly slow. Tesla didn’t seem to be sharing the good, M5-beating stuff yet.
This is set to change when the B-Class Electric Drive hits U.S. showrooms in January 2014. The model will arrive in dealers first before a limited roll-out in Europe.
As Mercedes’ first viable EV, the B-Class Electric is a complete package that excels in its mission of effortless city efficiency plus Mercedes-levels safety, durability, luxury and ownership experience.
Click past the jump for the full review.
The exterior of the B-Class Electric Drive looks mature and refined, and echoes the latest Mercedes’ nose treatment for its small car family. This includes the large “soft nose” grille and bumper combo, oversized star logo front and center, and ultra-modern headlamps. The headlamps are a particularly nice feature in this application; they dress up the car’s nose delightfully with white LED daytime running lights and LED turn signals – both swooping up the headlamp’s top edge almost like an eyebrow. Pleasing enough. But that eyebrow line continues nicely up the doors and gives some much-needed shape to the car’s profile.
From the side, the B-Class is plainly a small utility wagon. The relatively high roofline leaves it desiring some of its siblings’ style. The window line is completely functional and would be perfect for small families or light-taxi duty. All models feature a large, all-caps “Electric Drive” across the hatch.
Some nice detailing sets the car ahead of the Prius V plug-ins and Ford C-Max Energis of the world. Large wheels and body-colored fender flares add appeal and give the functional box a pretty ‘slammed’ appearance. No doubt for aerodynamics over style, but the good end result is the same.
2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive — Standard Exterior Features
- COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST w/ Adaptive Brake Assist
- LED daytime running lamp
The interior of this plucky little Benz is decidedly modern and will appeal to Mercedes devotees and newcomers alike. It features the latest Mercedes leather-trimmed steering wheel, familiar switchgear and quality materials at every touch point.
The seating position is much more upright and van-like than an E350 Sport and the tall wagon proportions make the dash pad and footwells seem very compact indeed. Driver visibility past the heavy-duty A-pillars is very poor. Luckily, the broad windshield and semi-elevated driving position helps overcome that.
Moving rearward, the car features belts for three in the backseat. Headroom appears outstanding and the seat promises spacious accommodation for two adults. For families, the bench will easily seat three kids or two rear-facing child seats. It splits and folds to enlarge the cargo area for transporting Ikea furniture.
On the move, the electric B-Class is a revolution. In the typical electric way, the car is eerily silent, making bumps, thunks and tire rumble are about the only noticeable noises in city driving. Addressing an electric car weakness, the B-Class also isolates occupants from louder cars in traffic. This is credited to Mercedes’ expertise in the luxury segment with expertly designed glazed glass, triple sealed doors and thick insulation.
The B-Class shares core dash hardware with the CLA-Class, including the five round SLS-style air vents embedded in the swooping middle dash panel. Featuring a muted wood trim on the debut model, it doesn’t quite excite as well as the CLA 250’s technical patterns or shiny aluminum look.
We start seeing some references to the B-Class’s efficient mission as soon as the displays power up. Charging and consumption displays are visible on the chrome-trimmed, tablet-style navigation unit and also the TFT info screen between the main dials. Similar to the Tesla Model S, the electric B-Class utilizes the column-mounted gear selector from the current S-Class. This allows a smooth center armrest area in the Model S, but the center console is decidedly more cramped in the B-Class.
The B-Class also features on-board 3G connectivity, the tech that Tesla has used extensively to push software updates wirelessly to each car. At its core, the car basically has its own cell phone data plan, with monthly subscription fees. (The services are expected to remain free to drivers for the time being).
With the B-Class’s connective features, owners can manage their vehicle remotely from a tablet, smartphone or desktop. Functions will include scheduled charging intervals, letting users check the charge status or pre-warm the car on chilly days. All features will be built into a Mercedes-branded application, something familiar to Volt and Leaf owners, or will be available via a unique vehicle homepage.
The B-Class Electric Drive ticks almost all the boxes of modern car buyers, including voice control and full smartphone audio integration via USB. Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming is expected as well but remains unconfirmed.
The COMAND suite of technology features in-car internet access, social features and integrated route planning that highlights charging stations on the way.
The B-Class Electric Drive is deceptively simple in its technical layout. In contrast to most Mercedes technical drawings, even the detailed press image has only a few labels here and there describing what’s what.
The B-Class’ electric powertrain delivers unexpectedly lively performance, as it whirrs out more that 174 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. This is enough to sprint the tiny electro-hatch to 60 mpg in just 7.9 seconds.
Top speed is electronically limited to 100 mph but most drivers will give up by 75 or so. They’ll notice some pressure on the accelerator pedal and range warnings as the car almost actively discourages fast lane cruising. Even the supercar-fast Tesla Model S Performance feels happiest below 80 mph.
Keeping with the simplicity selling strategy, Mercedes has simplified the charging promises for the electric B-Class. Using a 240-volt/40-amp outlet, the company quotes a 2-hour-period to 50-percent charge, which nets the B-Class about 60 miles of range. On a full charge (estimated to be 6 hours), the car has a better-than-most driving range of 100 miles.
Mercedes follows the latest electric car thinking by building a special high-power charger unit into the car itself. This saves buyers the need to install a big charging box on their garage wall, and instead works with normal power outlets to charge its on-board batteries as fast as it can.
While unconfirmed, the B-Class Electric Drive might be the first non-Tesla that is both compatible with, and allowed to charge at, the company’s so-called “Supercharger” stations that dot the California coast and are planned to expand across the country.
Drivetrain Specifications (Preliminary)
|Outpu||more than 174 hp (130 kW)|
|Range||100+ miles [US City], 200 km [NEFZ]|
|Charging time for a range of 60 miles||USA: 2 hours 40 A/240 V (ECE: 1.5 hours 400V)|
|Acceleration 0-60 MPH||7.9 Sec.|
|Top speed||100 mph (160 km/h), electronically limited|
Suspension and Braking
The electric Benz uses standard components for its suspension and braking systems. It dips into the top range B-Class units and then tailors them to the B-Class Electric’s unique dynamic properties.
Despite being designed with a flexible “energy space” under the cabin floor and a lightweight Lithium Ion battery pack, the B-Class gets special tuning by Mercedes chassis teams. The company seems focused on comfortable suspension settings to match the laid-back EV driving experience.
Ever a concern for safety pioneer Mercedes, the B-Class Electric has undergone some of the world’s most rigorous safety and durability tests ever conducted. The B200 cousin of this car achieved a 5-Star Euro NCAP performance and Mercedes will try for top crash-safety scores from the NHTSA and IIHS for the Electric Drive model.
Regenerative braking is a large part of any EV’s tech package, and the electric B-Class follows suit. The brake heat is recaptured and converted into battery power. The braking package will also help safety efforts via traction and stability control systems.
On the road, the silent little wagon has a shy but plucky personality that is actually pretty refreshing from the joyless Germans. Being based on the work-a-day B-Class platform is a big benefit here. That car is tuned for a dynamic responsiveness that matches its mission as a commercial vehicle in many European cities.
The electric B-Class will likely mute most of the harshness of euro city cars, but keep some agility via the quick steering rack and responsive throttle.
Mercedes has not decided final prices for the B-Class Electric Drive. It will be juggling the need to pay for the cutting-edge Lithium Ion batteries and the desire to actually sell in good numbers. Considering its mechanical package, promised range, and competition, prices in the mid $40s seem most likely. Mercedes plans to deliver the B-Class Electric Drive in mid 2014.
As the first pure EV model for the brand, with special need to monitor electricity consumption, the B-Class ED will feature fewer option packs than most Mercedes models. Instead, the car is expected to ship in a just a handful of well-equipped specifications. More details as they become available.
The competitive set for the electric B-Class is a study in contrasts In one sense, it matches the Ford C-Max Energi (plugin hybrid) in size, seating layout and more. On the other hand, Mercedes is all-too-aware that BMW’s upcoming i3 is a game changer. Secondary competition comes from the Prius V Plug-in, the Nissan Leaf and upcoming Ford Focus Electric . Despite lacking badge kudos, all the pure electric cars above are pretty pricey.
The Leaf broke new ground for a major manufacturer as the first modern mass-produced EV. It was recently updated with better batteries and a lightly refreshed nose. The core vehicle stays the same, with its amazing silent drive but ugly-duckling looks and mouse fur interior.
gallery: Nissan Leaf
The upcoming BMW i3 is slowly breaking cover in production form. Final specifications are expected to be released in autumn 2013 ahead of its mid-2014 U.S. launch. The details to date are tantalizing. It includes a futuristic carbon-fiber chassis and pure EV running in base trim. A range-extending 1.5-liter gasoline three-cylinder will be optional. It is predicted to launch as a 2-door, but it will be followed by a 5-door version shortly after.
The B-Class Electric Drive is interesting for a few reasons but likely will be made in such small volumes that the B-Class will remain an oddity stateside.
Ultimately, the most exciting thing about this car is that it exists at all. Coming from Mercedes, buyers can feel confident that the technology is mature enough for easy, safe operation day in and day out.
This confidence will be critical in luring potential buyers. Will AMG fans like it? No. But looking at city families and aging boomers, a market niche is clearly visible.
Mercedes-Benz luxury and zero gasoline: the loudest sound you’ll hear is your own calm heartbeat.
Promising Tesla EV technology
Luxurious and silent interior
Flexible cargo and seating space for families
Decent acceleration for an EV
Dowdy ’tall wagon’ styling
The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive: Zero emissions – with star
Stuttgart/New York – A new-generation electric car is celebrating its world premiere at the 2013 New York International Auto Show: the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive makes its debut with a dynamic design, high-quality interior and a high-torque electric motor for local emission-free driving. This makes for lively and effortless driving pleasure over a range of around 115 miles (200 km). In addition, the
B-Class Electric Drive is digitally networked. Thanks to its connected services, it can be conveniently checked and configured via the internet. As a true Mercedes it also sets high standards in terms of comfort, quality and safety. Bearing the Mercedes star as an unmistakable trademark, the B-Class Electric Drive will be launched first in the USA at the beginning of 2014, where it will be the first luxury battery electric car from Mercedes-Benz in the market.
The new B-Class Electric Drive surprises with a particularly dynamic driving experience, delivering decidedly powerful acceleration while gliding along the road practically silently. The driver and passengers in this new electric Mercedes will enjoy the familiar comfort of a well designed, high-quality interior offering a generous amount of space. The B-Class Electric Drive thus combines dynamism and driving pleasure with zero local emissions – in short, electric driving at the premium level.
According to Dr. Joachim Schmidt, member of the Mercedes-Benz Cars Board of Management 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."
Powerful and lively drive system
The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is based on the conventionally powered B-Class, which has become a bestseller in many countries since its market debut in 2011. As a particularly versatile vehicle concept, the B-Class also allows environmentally friendly motoring at the Mercedes level thanks to its innovative electric drive. In the USA, the vehicle is being introduced onto the market exclusively as the electric variant.
Quiet and local emission-free drive power is provided by an electric motor generating more than 100 kW. Typically for an electric drive, the maximum torque of 310 Nm is available right from the first tap on the accelerator pedal – this roughly corresponds to the torque delivery of a modern petrol engine with a displacement of 3.0 litres. This results in decidedly powerful acceleration from a standing start. For the standard sprint from 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h), the electric-powered B-Class requires considerably less than ten seconds. This guarantees superior driving performance and highly dynamic, exhilarating driving pleasure in any situation.
A powerful lithium-ion battery feeds energy to the electric drive and is accommodated in the so-called "Energy Space" in the vehicle’s underfloor – a solution which is both space-saving and safe. Thanks to this intelligent packaging, the five-seater retains the familiar, generous interior space and luggage space of the B-Class.
Emission-free even over longer distances
The maximum speed is electronically limited to 100 mph (160 km/h) in the interests of operating range. Depending on the respective driving cycle, the range is around 115 miles (200 km). This means that in addition to emission-free driving in urban traffic and on short-range trips, longer journeys can also be undertaken without any problems – such as the distances covered on a daily basis by commuters going to work, for example. The B-Class Electric Drive can be recharged at any standard household power socket. In the USA, the charging time for a range of about 60 miles (100 km) is less than 2 hours at 240 V/40 A.
While the car is on the move, the electric drive itself contributes to a favourable energy balance through recuperation, by converting kinetic energy into electric current in deceleration mode and during braking and feeding this energy into the battery.
Dynamic Mercedes-Benz design
Refined sportiness together with aesthetic visual appeal – the B-Class Electric Drive is another example of the self-assured and dynamic Mercedes design, with powerful, tense lines and finely styled details. Both the front and rear set the tone for the vehicle’s width, which comes courtesy of the wide, prominent grille and headlamps extending into the vehicle sides, as well as the wide rear window, two-piece rear lamp cluster and the large tailgate with low boot sill. The side sill panels and striking bumpers with bar-shaped LED daytime driving lights exude dynamism. The charging socket is inconspicuously installed behind the charging flap.
Sporty interior with premium details
The interior underscores the high comfort standards of Mercedes-Benz. High-quality materials and finely structured surfaces, premium details, and precise finishing all highlight the fact that electric driving is defined at a very high level according to the philosophy of Mercedes-Benz.
The three large, round air vents in the centre with their distinctively designed cross-form nozzles are sporty features that contribute to the emotional design idiom of the interior. Above the air vents is the display screen for the telematics system which appears to be free-floating – a modern, eye-catching feature of the cockpit.
When it comes to information and communication systems, the electric B-Class offers levels of convenience and functionality that were previously reserved for higher classes of vehicles. Standard onboard features include the Audio 20 with a 14.7 cm colour screen, a twin tuner, an MP3-capable CD player and a USB connection. Navigation is provided for by the Becker® MAP PILOT. The multimedia system COMAND Online with internet access, navigation and LINGUATRONIC voice control is also available as an optional extra.
Functions specific to electric vehicles have been added to the instrumentation of the B-Class Electric Drive. The power display in the dial instrument on the right is immediately obvious. When power is being consumed, its pointer rises in a clockwise direction from the green to the red area, and drops back below the zero line when the vehicle is feeding recuperative energy back into the battery.
Fully networked: connected services
Its cutting-edge technology ensures that the B-Class Electric Drive is not only sustainable (because it offers local emission-free driving) and agile (because of its high torque and acceleration), but also fully networked. Remote checking and remote configuration of the vehicle are conveniently possible via the Vehicle Homepage, for example. The driver can easily access his vehicle via the internet, using a PC or smartphone. In this way, 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 planned route can also be displayed, immediately showing where the vehicle can be recharged along the way, if necessary. The range of connected services is rounded off with a pre-entry climate control option offering individually timed pre-heating or cooling. This pre-entry climate control system makes the B-Class Electric Drive unique in its segment.
Big on safety
Mercedes-Benz applies its familiar, high safety standards to the B-Class Electric Drive. Thanks to the innovative "Energy Space", the battery is safely accommodated in the underfloor of the vehicle for crash protection. In addition, Mercedes-Benz has already equipped this innovative electric car with the radar-based collision warning system COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST with adaptive Brake Assist as standard. This assistance system gives the driver a visual and acoustic warning of recognized obstacles, prepares him for braking action and assists him with the braking process as the situation requires. In this way it significantly reduces the danger of a rear-end collision. Additional, more up-to-date driver assistance systems are also available – among them Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Active Parking Assist.
Electric motoring made by Mercedes-Benz
Local emission-free electric vehicles such as the new B-Class Electric Drive are a major part of the Mercedes-Benz strategy for sustainable mobility. The Stuttgart-based premium manufacturer is reasserting its claim to leadership in this sector with electric vehicles which are fully suitable for everyday use. These include the A-Class E-CELL, the B-Class F-CELL, the Vito E-CELL van, and the SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive. The smart fortwo electric drive - of which well over 1000 units have been produced and delivered since the middle of last year - has enjoyed an extremely positive response from our customers, too. The new B-Class Electric Drive will be available initially in the USA from the beginning of 2014, and will be launched in European markets subsequently.