- The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive will debut in the U.S. in mid-2014, with sales in Europe following a few months later.
- Thanks to a partnership with Tesla, the 177-horsepower Mercedes five-passenger hatchback's drivetrain is derived from the Model S.
- Mercedes says the B-Class Electric Drive will only take two hours to fully recharge, using a standard 40-amp Level 2 charger.
STUTTGART, Germany — The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive will debut in the U.S. in mid-2014, with sales in Europe following a few months later.
Thanks to a partnership with Tesla, the Mercedes five-passenger hatchback's drivetrain is derived from the Model S, producing 177 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque.
The B-Class will carry a smaller lithium-ion battery pack than the Model S, expected to deliver 115 miles of range (132 miles with extended range selected). Mercedes claims a 0-60-mph time of 7.9 seconds with a top speed of 100 mph. Mercedes also says the B-Class Electric Drive will only take two hours to fully recharge, using a standard 40-amp Level 2 charger.
Earlier today, we were among a select few to get an exclusive ride in the B-Class around Stuttgart, Germany. Oddly enough, there are "shift" paddles on the steering wheel, but rather than controlling actual gearchanges, the paddles regulate the amount of regenerative braking.
For the most part, it simulates upshifts and downshifts quite well. In a departure from other EVs, the Mercedes regenerative braking will not slow the car dramatically enough to trigger the mandated brake-light illumination threshold.
According to Dr. Joachim Schmidt, former Mercedes executive vice president of sales and marketing now turned advisor, the main obstacle to mating a Tesla drivetrain to a B-Class was not in the packaging of the components, as one might assume. No, Schmidt revealed that the greatest challenge came when they strove to give the EV the feel of a Mercedes behind the wheel, which came down to "tuning" the software.
Sadly, Schmidt admits there are no plans for an AMG variant, pointing out that the SLS AMG Electric Drive fills that void.
While Mercedes touts the electric B-Class as a true five-passenger hatchback, it's worth noting that three adults would feel cramped in the rear seat.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but we were told it would carry a premium price, despite its rather humble origins. The B-Class Electric Drive will still come packaged with typical Mercedes niceties and safety features including a dressed-up cabin with convincing faux leather coverings, collision prevention assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and active parking assist.
Edmunds says: If you ask us, the Mercedes-Benz and Tesla union is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.