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Mercedes Planning Range-Extended Electric B Class For U.S.

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At this April’s 2012 New York Auto Show Mercedes-Benz is expected to unveil the first of its new compact range destined for sale in the U.S., a four-door coupe based on the latest “MFA” front-wheel drive platform that debuted in the new B Class.

Mercedes has decided against selling the B Class in the U.S. for now, though contradictory to some other reports a version of the car will eventually arrive.

Speaking with Automotive News (subscription required), Mercedes global sales boss Joachim Schmidt said a special version of the B Class complete with a range-extended electric drivetrain will be sold exclusively in the U.S.

He didn’t say when the vehicle would be coming, nor did he mention what type of engine would act as the range-extender, though at last year’s Frankfurt Auto Show the automaker showed off a concept B Class E-Cell range-extended electric car fitted with a small gasoline engine, and this is what we’ll likely see in the production version. Note, Mercedes has experimented with a hydrogen fuel-cell B Class in the U.S. previously though it may still be too early for a fuel-cell range-extended vehicle to come onto the market just yet.

Other compact cars Mercedes plans to offer in the U.S. will include a new A Class hatchback, which launches in Europe later this year and should be in U.S. showrooms early next. It will be followed by a compact SUV and possibly a small sports car.

Mercedes hopes that its new compact car onslaught will help it to boost its U.S. sales by 20 percent over the coming years, with an aim to reach 300,000 annual sales in the mid-term. Last year, BMW outsold Mercedes 247,907 to 245,192 to claim the title of top-selling luxury auto brand in the U.S., ending Lexus’ 11-year hold on the crown.
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