Mercedes-Benz Research and Development Chief Says B-Class Electric Drive Will Beat the Competition

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 30

B-Class Electric Drive Due in US in 2014

B-Class Electric Drive Due in US in 2014

Mercedes-Benz research and development boss, Thomas Weber, firmly believes that the upcoming B-Class Electric Drive will give the growing competition a run for their money.

B-Class Electric Drive

B-Class Electric Drive

In an exclusive interview with Automobilwoche, Weber spoke of Mercedes’ plugged-in future, focusing mostly on the electric B-Class.

Here’s how that conversation went down:

Automobilwoche: BMW is launching its i3, a model developed from the ground up as an EV with a carbon skin. Daimler currently has only the electric Smart.

Weber: That will change next year when we bring out the full-electric B-class Electric Drive. In all the key criteria, this vehicle will be at least as competitive as our competitors’ models.

Automobilwoche: Why do you think this?

Weber: With the B class, we are bringing out an electric vehicle with five full-fledged seats and no constraints on trunk space. The B-class Electric Drive has a range of 200km – and that’s not just on paper. The 200km actually can be achieved in normal daily use. The car also has a top speed of 160kph. With torque of significantly more than 300 newton meters and with an acceleration of 0-100kph in 7.9 seconds, we are offering sports car feeling in a compact car. And the batteries are fully charged in three hours.

B-Class Electric Interior

B-Class Electric Interior

Automobilwoche: Won’t it be very expensive?

Weber: The price is not set, but we want to be extremely competitive here, too.

Automobilwoche: What Mercedes tech is in the car?

Weber: Two-stage energy recuperation is an important function that was developed by our engineers. And with the steering paddles, drivers can brake in two stages without having to operate the brakes with their feet. That offers an entirely new, very attractive driving experience.

Automobilwoche: Will you also sell the B class with a range-extending engine?

Weber: That is not currently planned. The hybrid concept is more efficient than a range extender. While I do not want to rule out offering models with range extenders in the future, as an engineer I don’t think much of workarounds. So I clearly prefer direct propulsion with an internal combustion engine for long distances.

Automobilwoche: What’s the launch plan for the B class?

Weber: The electric B class comes out first in the U.S. in the spring of 2014. Unlike Europe, there is a relatively significant demand for such vehicles. The B-class Electric Drive really has no predecessor in the U.S. It is being positioned in that market as a multipurpose vehicle and will only be offered as an electric model. Based on its design and the battery’s location, the car is somewhat elevated, and the 18-inch wheels add to its height. So the B class almost looks like a compact SUV.

Automobilwoche: When will the electric B class debut in Europe?

Weber: In autumn 2014 with the B class model upgrade, since we already have a much sought-after electric vehicle, the two-seat Smart ForTwo Electric Drive.

We definitely think that the B-Class Electric Drive will compete head on with the BMW i3.  If M-B prices it right, says within a couple grand of the i3, then BMW will have a serious competitor to deal with.  On the other hand, if the B-Class is priced above $50,000, then the i3 will still stand alone.

Interesting times are a comin’.

Source: Automotive News Europe

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30 responses to "Mercedes-Benz Research and Development Chief Says B-Class Electric Drive Will Beat the Competition"

  1. Robert says:

    Is anyone else beginning to notice a trend?

    Tesla and BMW both have a winner. Mercedes wants to beat the competition. VW wants to be the leader in electric vehicles. Nissan obviously kiscking ass too.

    This S%&t just got real.

    1. I hope they actually deliver on these promises. Spring 2014 is only six months away.

    2. David says:

      Too early to say BMW has a winner. We’ll see then the test drive reports start coming out.

  2. Spec9 says:

    Uh . . . isn’t the Mercedes EV tech outsourced from Tesla? That’s some R&D there, chief.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Yes. But the clue is in the question “What Mercedes tech is in the car?”

      The implication from the question is that they are aware of the Tesla drivetrain and they want to know about specific MB development.

      It should be understood that MB is a Tesla shareholder and has offer-matching rights on any takeover. They don’t look at Tesla as a threat in the same way others do.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Indeed, the Tesla-MB relationship is a lot deeper than skin deep as it is with Toyota.

        A lot of the development on the Model S was done in conjunction with Daimler’s help…there is/was a lot of back and forth at play here between the two companies.

        Although Daimler seems to have backed off some and gone on their own of late, I would say the two companies had some good give and take and both came away the better for it.

        1. MTN Ranger says:

          For example the Model S uses some Mercedes parts – gear selector/steering column/wheel stalks, and some switches.

  3. Francis L says:

    With 200 km (125 miles) of range and a good network of quick charger, this is the beginning of something interesting! You suddenly can think about making long distance trip with an EV. Meaning a affordable EV can compete with ICE not only as a urban car, but as a primary car!

    1. David says:

      Doubt it will have significantly longer range, battery isn’t that big. It also does NOT have quick charge capability.

  4. squanto says:

    I asked on Frankfurt Motor Show IAA. There will be no quick charge option. What does it help to beat competition without offering quick charge? *fail

  5. miimura says:

    They are claiming 124 miles (200km) real world range. My understanding is that it has 28kWh usable battery. That comes to more than 4.4mi/kWh. That seems awfully optimistic to me. I will be surprised if the EPA range comes back more than 100mi unless I’m wrong about the usable battery capacity.

    @FrancisL – From what I’ve heard, there is no quick charge on this car. It only has the 9.6kW Tesla on-board charger with a J1772 port in US and Type 2 (Mennekes) in EU. Also, 28kWh is not enough for a long distance car, even with DCQC.

    1. I drive a Honda FIT EV and consistently get 4.7 to 4.9 miles/kWh, I do drive conservatively though. 60 MPH on the freeway and Econ mode except for short bursts to have fun. Love that Sport mode. 🙂

      1. miimura says:

        What is your average for a whole month? Does Honda track that for you?

        The B-Class EV is a larger car than the Fit EV, so would naturally have a lower efficiency. That is why I’m skeptical of their claim. Also, if you calculate the mi/kWh for the EPA ranges given for EVs, it’s relatively low compared to what people can get in good conditions. For example, the Fit EV has 82 mile EPA range and 20kWh battery pack, so that gives 4.1mi/kWh. Focus Electric gets a 76 mile rating from a 23kWh pack, giving an efficiency of 3.3mi/kWh. So, in comparison, the B-Class claim which gives a 4.4mi/kWh efficiency is dubious.

  6. philba says:

    While they say “competitive” this sounds like a compliance car. Or, at best a “me too” car. And regen paddles? Ugh. why would I want my hands dealing with braking? In my Model S, I have gotten very used to regen being tied to the accelerator pedal. Foot off the pedal and full regen kicks in. Coasting is done by finding the “null” point and proportional regen braking happens between null and full regen points. This allows the fastest “braking” response (your car starts slowing before you ever touch the brake pedal). One foot driving is a far superior driving experience to anything else.

    Also, I share the disbelief that a 28kWh battery will give real world range of >100 mi. To do so their motor would have to be dramatically more efficient, regen more effective and their weight a lot less than a LEAF.

    Want to bet Herr Weber doesn’t drive an EV?

    1. EV says:

      regen paddles make regening fun, and its still one foot driving, your hands are on the wheel, you are jealous the model s doesnt have paddles

      1. philba says:

        lol, jealous. uh, sure, whatever.

        and to be clear one foot driving means just that – one foot. Not one foot and a hand, just one foot. I also fail to see why having a to whack a paddle to get your car to regen is fun.

        1. GSP says:

          You still use your foot to get regen, just like a Model S. the paddle adjusts the max level. Just leave it where you like it, but some of us want to switch from no regen to max regen quickly. I think it is better than trying to find and hold the “zero torque coasting” position on the accelerator pedal.

          GSP

    2. GSP says:

      The Model S requires going through setup menus to change the maximum regen level. Paddles would be much, much, nicer.

      Of course, the Model S is a much, much, more capable car, with 22 kW 3-phase charging, DC fast charging, and 265 mile EPA range. Not to mention free Supercharging stations.

      GSP

    3. Doug says:

      The 115 miles I’m sure is not an EPA. I’d expect something closer to 75 given the size and presumed weight. No L3 charge port? I wish Nissan would commit to a 36kwh option for 2015.

  7. David says:

    No reports that this will be sold in more the California or CARB states. If its not sold nationwide, then its just a compliance car and not serious.

  8. EV says:

    well out of every EV besides the model s this one has the best range

    1. philba says:

      Since it’s a merely a claim, I suggest you wait for some real world testing before buying their pronouncement.

    2. miimura says:

      It is very unlikely to have more range than its Tesla powered relative, the RAV4 EV. That car has 41.8kWh usable battery. EPA averages the Standard and Extended charge modes to give 103 miles. Using the same efficiency, a full Extended charge on the RAV4 EV gives 112 miles. People routinely get more than this in CA where the car is sold. We will have to wait to see what the EPA number is for the B-Class.

  9. FvanderB says:

    How do you know there is a 28 kWh battery. They stated that before, but they might as well have changed their minds about it. I bet they are planning on something bigger.

    1. miimura says:

      When it was introduced at the New York Auto Show in March, the 28kWh battery size was widely reported.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2013/03/27/2014-mercedes-benz-b-class-electric-drive-new-york/

      It is very unlikely that they changed it less than 1 year before the on-sale date.

        1. FvanderB says:

          But then they said 200 km on paper. Now they say 200 km in real world driving.

  10. Bill Howland says:

    These Germans always mention “3 hour recharge time” with the footnote that that is with a Mennedes 3 – phase charging system. For the American Market only Tesla and Toyota have decided to have faster home charging options. Even the SMARTEV can charge at 22kw – IF you’re in Germany. There are no 90 amp 240 volt Smart EV chargers in the US.

    1. GSP says:

      A 10 kW single phase charger could recharge the 28 kWh battery in 3 hours. I bet US models will have exactly that.

      Hopefully European models will have 11 kW 3-phase chargers, or better yet, the 22 kW charger from the Smart ED for 1.5 hour recharge.

      GSP

  11. Bloggin says:

    The more options the better.

    But remember the Germans are a few years behind GM, Ford and Nissan.

    So as the first gen B-Class Electric Drive is launching with 100+ EV miles in 2014 and over $40k, the next gen Volt with 50+ EV miles, next gen Focus Electric and next gen Leaf with 100+ EV miles will launch in 2015 as 2016 models under $30k.