Mercedes-Benz Concept B Class Electric Drive, 2012 Paris Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
As early as January officials at Mercedes-Benz were suggesting that a version of the B Class with an alternative powertrain will be sold in the U.S. At the time, Mercedes-Benz was trialing an extended-range electric drivetrain in the sub-compact MPV.
However, by July, it was tipped that Mercedes-Benz would work together with Tesla and develop a pure electric setup for the car. Mercedes’ parent company Daimler is a shareholder of Tesla and the two firms have already collaborated on electric car projects in the past.
Additionally, an all-electric powertrain would mean Mercedes could avoid costly emissions testing in the U.S. (and also meet regulatory demands in some states that require a certain level of electric car sales). That’s why the electric model is expected to be the only B Class variant offered in the U.S., but that's not the only reason.
Speaking with Car and Driver, a spokesman for the automaker said using a unique body, like that of the B Class, is typically more successful for promoting alternative powertrains than simply using a conventional model and converting its powertrain. Probably the best example of this is the popularity of the Toyota Prius over regular models like the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Remember, a lot of eco-conscious buyers want to be seen as being green.
The B Class Electric Drive’s powertrain will likely be similar to the one in the Paris concept. This means a single electric motor rated at 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) and 229 pound-feet of torque, and powered by a lithium-ion battery sourced from Tesla. The driving range could be as high as 125 miles.
Should the vehicle prove successful, we could see an extended-range version launched, as well as the electric powertrain offered in other Mercedes-Benz models. The B Class Electric Drive rides on the same MFA platform that will underpin the upcoming CLA Class four-door coupe and GLA Class crossover, so a transfer of technologies is possible.
There’s been no mention of when the electric B Class might arrive on U.S. shores, though with its European launch pegged for early next year, we’d expect a local arrival within the next year or two.