Mercedes-Benz plans production of electric B-Class

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that an electric version of its B-Class compact is to go into production in 2014.

The luxury German automaker showcased the new B-Class at this week's Frankfurt Motor Show, offering visitors the chance to see both standard gasoline and an extended-range version named the 'Concept B-Class E-CELL PLUS'.

While the name may not be overly alluring, the idea behind the vehicle is attractive enough - the concept boasts a range of up to 600 kilometers thanks to a combination of both electric and gasoline powertrains.

Like the Chevrolet Volt, the Concept B-Class E-CELL PLUS uses a range extender that kicks in when the batteries near depletion, some 100 kilometers into the journey.

However, unlike the Volt, Mercedes-Benz's newly developed transmission allows the gasoline engine to act as a direct driving engine (rather than a generator), which propels the car in roughly the same manner as the Toyota Prius.

Because the vehicle needs the gasoline engine to achieve speeds of over 60km/h, the Concept B-Class E-CELL PLUS is unlikely to satisfy many hard-core electric vehicle fans - the Volt came in for significant criticism when it was suggested that at some points, the generator may directly feed power to the wheels.

It also sends a signal that, like many other automakers, Mercedes-Benz may not be fully convinced of the sales potential of 100 percent electric models - the company is also intensively testing fuel-cell powered vehicles, including a B-Class which uses a hydrogen cell.

Put these models alongside the hybrid S 400 and the all-electric A-Class E-CELL, and it seems the brand still has a long way to go before it comes down firmly on one side of the electric vehicle debate.

The Frankfurt Motor Show runs through September 25 in Frankfurt, Germany.

http://www.iaa.de/en

 

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