You’re a top tier luxury manufacturer that doesn’t have an electric vehicle development program. Suddenly, everyone around you is approving plug-in electrics and pure electric vehicles and you want to get in on the game. What’s the answer?
If you’re Mercedes-Benz (or Toyota), you turn to Tesla. During dark days for Tesla, Daimler provided Tesla the company with an infusion of cash. Chief Executive Elon Musk says the cooperation saved the company. The investment resulted in Daimler taking a small stake in the company, and it began a partnership that could have big implications. The result of that has been the supply of power trains and battery packs for Smart, as well as a limited A-Class E-Cell demonstration program in Germany, France and Holland.
Up until now there hasn’t been a full deployment of electrics by Mercedes-Benz That will be changing with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Concept B-Class Electric Drive which is scheduled for this week’s Paris Motor Show. It is a labeled a “concept” officially, but it really is one in name only. The production vehicle will look very similar. Significant is that Mercedes has given its line of electric vehicles a marketing title. Audi calls its electrics E-Tron.
Prior to the B-Class, Mercedes was using the E-Cell moniker. We think electrics are far better served by less gimmicky naming. In that regard, Electric Drive serves quite nicely. The Concept B-Class has a powertrain developed by Tesla, and it pumps out 134 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. A lithium ion battery pack under the floor wil net a range of about 124 miles. Good – but not great. Mercedes-Benz will be putting a heavy emphasis on electrics at the Paris Motor Show, with the Smart ForTwo Brabus Electric Drive and SLS AMG Electric Drive debuting alongside Concept B-Class. As far as production dates, Mercedes hasn’t given anything concrete but it should be just around the corner.