The new electric car joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and BYD will be based on the outgoing B-class.
A lightly modified version of the car’s front-wheel drive platform will be used, according to insiders involved in the early stages of its conception.
To be sold exclusively in BYD’s domestic Chinese market, the new zero-emissions hatchback will be marketed under an as-yet-undisclosed brand.
It will be the first of a new range of all-electric models collectively being planned by both the German and Chinese car manufacturers.
In a move aimed at taking advantage of the B-class’s layout, Mercedes and BYD plan to use the soon-to-be-superseded model’s flat-floor structure for the stowage of lithium ion batteries.
The floor was originally designed for that purpose, but was never utilised in series production.
Placing the batteries low down within the platform provides for a lower centre of gravity than in more conventional applications, where they are usually mounted beneath the rear seat and boot floor.
The underfloor space taken up by the standard B-class’s petrol and diesel engines will be dedicated to an electric motor that will be used to power the front wheels.
Despite utilising the B-class platform, Mercedes and BYD’s joint-venture electric car will receive its own styling and interior.