Just in time to fend off BMW’s new i3 in the still nascent electric car market is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which is priced at $41,450 before factoring in any subsidies. That compares with pricing for the i3, although the Mercedes misses out on the BMW’s advanced carbon fiber construction and the ability to add a gasoline range-extender.

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Power in the B-Class Electric Drive comes from a 132-kilowatt (177-horsepower) electric motor spinning the front wheels, and the driving range on a single charge of its 28-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is an estimated 85 miles. The setup was developed together with Tesla Motors [NSDQ: TSLA] and should spirit the B-Class Electric Drive from 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to 100 mph.

The vehicle can be charged from any standard domestic power socket, and using a 240-volt charger you’ll be able to top up the batteries with enough juice for a 60-mile drive in just two hours. At the same time, you may experience increased driving range thanks to energy regeneration during coasting and braking.

Being based on the regular B-Class compact MPV sold overseas for the past couple of years, the B-Class Electric Drive features all the premium touches and safety gear typical of a car wearing the three-pointed star. The standard equipment package includes a head unit with 5.8-inch color display, navigation system, and a special function that allows remote interaction and remote configuration of the vehicle.

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The driver, for example, can use their PC or smartphone to access the vehicle via the internet and check metrics such as current state of charge and mapped-out vehicle range. In addition, the planned route can be displayed, showing at a glance where the vehicle can be recharged along the way, should this prove necessary. There’s also a host of Mercedes safety gear including radar-based warning systems, brake assist and a parking assistant.

Sales of the B-Class Electric Drive commence this summer, initially in the U.S. Other markets will receive the car later in the year.


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