Work begins on Project 50 lightweight electric car

Mercedes-Benz has begun studies into a new hi-tech small car to rival the BMW Mega City Vehicle, has learned.

It goes under the name Project 50 and has been described by a company insider as a car with the dimensions of the original A-class, which means it will around 3500mm in length.

However, it won't use the old A-class platform, as it would be too heavy and too expensive to re-engineer for future crash test regs. Although it isn't yet certain, there is a chance it could use the rear-engine/rear-wheel drive platform from the upcoming Smart ForFour.

As with the BMW Mega City, Mercedes is investigating using carbonfibre construction techniques and powering the car with an electric drivetrain.

The Mega City is a zero-emissions electric city car and will be built at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany. It will be launched in the next three years, and will be badged as what BMW calls “ a sub-brand of BMW”. Recent speculation has suggested it will be a Mini.

BMW has formed a joint venture with carbonfibre producer SGL to make carbonfibre-reinforced plastics for the car’s panels at its plant in Landshut.

The firm’s Leipzig plant produces the 1-series and the X1.

Greg Kable

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31 March 2010

So what is the Smart fortwo for then?

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