Mercedes-Benz has kicked off production of the new B-class Electric Drive at its plant in Rastatt, Germany – the same site responsible for the production of the German car maker’s more conventional petrol and diesel-powered A-, B- and GLA-class models.
Set for sale in lef-hand-drive guise in selected European markets during the latter half of 2014, the five-seat MPV has been conceived as a rival to the likes of the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf. Unlike the uniquely styled electric car competition, however, the new zero emission Mercedes-Benz is based on an existing model – the second-generation B-class.
Full technical details to the new car are yet to be revealed, although Mercedes-Benz quotes a preliminary all-electric range of 124 miles.
At the heart of the new car is a lithium-ion battery produced by Tesla Motors – a company with which Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed close technical ties ever since its parent company Daimler took a minority ten per cent stake in the California-based electric car maker back in 2009.
The first B-class Electric Drive to roll off the production line reveals the look the Mercedes brand’s first series production electric vehicle will take into showrooms.
While appearing little changed to existing second-generation B-class models, it receives a newly styled front bumper and body-coloured cladding within the wheelarches – features that are expected to be incorporated on the facelifted B-class when it is launched later this year.
The 1750kg B-class Electric Drive is powered by a front mounted electric motor that produces 177bhp and 250lb ft of torque. Preliminary performance figures point to a 0-62mph time of 7.9sec and a limited 100mph top speed.
Although initially planned to be produced in left-hand drive guise only, Mercedes-Benz confirms right-hand-drive versions of its first series production electric vehicle are under development. “We are looking to launch in right-hand drive during 2015,” a source revealed to Autocar, adding, “exact timing has not been set, although we are aware that the UK is shaping up as an important market”.
Read Autocar's first drive of the Mercedes-Benz B-class Electric Drive prototype.