Mercedes is to show a trio of environmentally friendly concepts at the Detroit motor show that will go into limited production next year.
The cars in the new BlueZero range will use a combination of lithium-ion battery power, fuel cell and conventional internal combustion engine.
The BlueZero E-Cell has a fast charging lithium-ion battery capable of covering up to 120 miles between charges, while the E-Cell Plus incorporates a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine to create a hybrid with a range of up to 370 miles. The third vehicle, the F-Cell, uses a fuel cell.
All three cars share the same design and sandwich-floor architecture that allows the weight of the battery to be placed lower in the car, improving handling and minimising the space it uses, freeing up room in the cabin.
This floorpan is based on the current A-class platform, which Mercedes will recycle and use for production versions of these cars, which will be front-wheel drive.
The green concepts will all be capable of 93mph, and will accelerate to 62mph in under 11 seconds. Practicality will be retained thanks to five seats and a 500-litre luggage capacity.
Mercedes claims its new liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries are capable of providing a 30 mile range with just 30 minutes of charging, with a complete charge taking two hours and giving 240 miles.
Fuel-cell vehicles will enter the Mercedes product line-up next year “on a small scale,” according to the firm. Electric cars will follow in 2010.