The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – the company’s first volume production electric car, with five seats and a 142 mile range – is now available to order from £26,950.
Split into two model lines – Sport and Electric Art – the B-Class Electric Drive is capable of travelling up to 142 miles on a single charge and can accelerate from rest to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds thanks to its 180 hp and 340 NM of torque generated by an electric motor. Yet it retains all the versatility of the B-Class on which it’s based, including the ability to carry five adults and a 501-litre boot – rising to 1,456-litres if you fold the seats down.
The B-Class Electric Drive has Tesla-developed technology, resulting in it being the fastest accelerating five-seat electric car in its class, as well as the most powerful, and has the greatest theoretical range on a single charge.
Prices for the B-Class Electric Drive start at £31,950 for the Sport model. Subject to approval, an OLEV grant (£5,000) can be applied, bringing the on-the-road price to £26,950. The Electric Art is priced at £32,245 – reduced to £27,245 should the OLEV grant be applied.
The Sport model features a unique design for the front and rear bumpers, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a seven-inch central display, Artico trim, automatic climate control, a reversing camera and cruise control. The Sport model is available in a choice of eight colours.
The Electric Art model – available in either Cirrus White or South Seas Blue – features contrasting mirrors and radiator grille elements, 18-inch dual colour alloy wheels, automatic climate control, contrast blue stitching for the seats and aluminium trim.
The lithium-ion batteries that power the B-Class Electric Drive are packaged under the floor of the car, meaning the car retains its cabin room and boot space. Charging via a wall box or public charging station is made easier through a fast charging cable supplied with the car, which takes between three and four hours and brings the battery from a completely empty state to fully charged. A conventional home supply raises the charge time to around nine hours.
Making the very most of the capabilities of the B-Class Electric Drive is the optional Energy Assist Package (£945). The package features adaptive energy recuperation systems to sense – via the forward facing radar – road conditions. When traffic is identified, increased recuperation is employed to make the most of any deceleration. Likewise, it can use signals from the COMAND system (when specified) to read the topography of the road ahead and adapt accordingly. The driver can override the regenerative cycle via the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel to alter the level of retardation – reducing the likelihood of any energy being wasted.
Further measures fitted as part of the Energy Assist Package include privacy glass and a heated windscreen to reduce loading on the air conditioning system, increased insulation around the doors and windows and the addition of a ‘Range Plus’ button for occasional use, adding extra range to the battery capacity than would normally be feasible. Finally, the car will emit a subtle but audible signal at speeds of up to 18 mph to warn pedestrians of the presence of the car.
The B-Class Electric Drive joins a range of cutting-edge new cars from Mercedes-Benz being launched in 2015. These include the S 500 Plug-in Hybrid – an S-Class with the power of an eight-cylinder car, the economy of a four-cylinder model and zero emissions around town. It will be joined by the C 350 Plug-in Hybrid during the course of the year – forming part of a range of Hybrids, extending from the C-Class to the S-Class.