Mercedes Benz announces that production for the upcoming B-Class electric drive has started at the Mercedes plant in Rastatt, Germany. This is the same plant that produces the gasoline and diesel powered A-, B-, and GLA-class models.
The 5 seater B-Class electric drive MPV is set to go on sale in select US states in the second quarter of 2014, and then later this year in select European markets. Mercedes hopes the B-Class will rival the uniquely styled electric vehicle competition including the BMW i3 and the Nissan Leaf, even though the electric drive is based on an existing gasoline powered model.
Mercedes has yet to reveal full technical details. We know the basis, such as a 177 horsepower electric motor, and a quoted ‘preliminary’ electric range of 124 miles on the NEDC test cycle. Preliminary performance figures state a 0-62 mph time of 7.9 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 100 mph.
The B-Class electric drive uses some Tesla technology – namely the lithium-ion battery pack that is produced by Tesla motors (Mercedes Benz parent company Daimler has owned a 10% stake in Tesla since 2009).
The first B-class Electric Drive to roll off the production line reveals the look the Mercedes brand’s first series production electric vehicle will take into showrooms. The electric version of the B-class has a distinct front bumper and body-coloured cladding in the wheel arches.
Mercedes-Benz does confirm that right-hand-drive of their first electric vehicle will be available sometime during 2015. “Exact timing has not been set, although we are aware that the UK is shaping up as an important market.”