Mercedes-Benz has taken its first step towards the production of an electric car with the BlueZero E-cell Plus concept.
Riding on a modified version of the existing A-class platform, the third in a series of BlueZero concept cars features a range-extender petrol/electric powertrain like the Vauxhall Ampera’s, and it will go into limited production next year.
Using the A-class’s sandwich floor to house an 18kWh lithium ion battery pack, as in the first BlueZero E-cell concept shown in Detroit in January, the Plus adds a 50kW (67bhp) petrol engine.
Taken from the Smart, the three-cylinder unit is also rear-mounted in the E-cell Plus. It is mated to a generator to provide energy for an electric motor, the sole drive for the front wheels.
Producing 70kW (94bhp) and 236lb ft, the electric motor is said to push the E-cell Plus to 62mph in under 11sec and on to a top speed of 93mph.
The 4200mm-long five-door hatch, whose styling provides clues to the appearance of the next B-class (due in 2012), is claimed to have a range on a single charge of 62 miles, which extends to 373 miles on a single tank of fuel when the range extender starts operating. The batteries take less than 30 minutes to recharge.
The Blue Zero will keep Mercedes’ patented flat-floor sandwich body architecture in production, but the next A-class and B-class models will make a dramatic switch to a more conventional and cheaper-to-make platform that eschews a flat floor for conventional footwells.