Daimler CEO: B-Class ED Comparable To BMW i3, But Mercedes’ “Effort Was Dramatically Smaller”


Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

BMW i3

BMW i3

It’s rare to hear a CEO call out a competing automaker on the grounds of over-investment into development & production of a vehicle, but Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche practically did just that in saying that BMW spent far too much on developing the i3.

Or something to that effect.

When discussing the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive in Spain, Daimler CEO Zetsche stated:

“You can reasonably say that nobody today is making a battery-powered vehicle that’s economically viable in its own right.  Manufacturers will not see a return within a reasonable time on the billions they’re investing now.”

Zetsche then compared the B-Class ED to the BMW i3, saying that both vehicles have comparable specs, though the B-Class ED has more range and seating for 5.

However, it was this statement that caught our attention:

“Despite the purpose-built design of BMW’s i3, its range, performance and interior space are very similar to those of the B class, Zetsche said. “But our effort was dramatically smaller.”

That Zetsche’s way of saying that BMW overspent given the end result, while Daimler was conservative with its spending, yet managed to present a finished vehicle with comparable specs to the i3.

Source: Automotive News

Categories: BMW, Mercedes

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36 Comments on "Daimler CEO: B-Class ED Comparable To BMW i3, But Mercedes’ “Effort Was Dramatically Smaller”"

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That is incredibly short sighted. BMW created manufacturing channels to mass produce CFRP cars. This is applicable to all future gas and EV cars. They’ve worked out their strategies for batteries, motors, inverters, etc. Daimler relies on Tesla.
If this is it for EVs than Daimler certainly wins, but I think we all believe this is only the beginning. In that paradigm Daimler is way behind BMW.

Daimler’s main effort is in PHEV’s where they have umpteen coming out over the next couple of years.

Which may have been better if they had done the R&D that BMW did. We shall see.

I think the design of i3 leaves much to be desired though.


BMW’s commitment and efforts to lightweight, efficient design puts them ahead of all manufacturers.

They don’t need to worry about battery tech since they outsource that part from Samsung, just like Tesla gets theirs from Panasonic, and Chevy from LG Chem. It’s just a matter of whether or not BMW (and other manufacturers) will opt for the higher energy density (more expensive) cells and pass the cost onto the consumer, like Tesla does.

If they do, say, build in i7 full size sedan with the more expensive batteries to directly compete with the Model S, it will be a phenomenal car.

The B EV doesn’t even have DC fast-charging. One can’t tell them Daimler was serious, this is a pure compliance car.

The sales numbers (magnitudes higher for the i3 so far) also show consumers vastly prefer the i3 so far.

I think the i3 is also important for BMW since it gives them a real-world feedback on BEV vs REX order numbers – and preferences for larger batteries in the future.

Finally, many of the investments in the i3/i8 lines will carry over to other BMW models (carbon etc.), the i-series R&D can be recouped by many model lines in the future.

And I’d rather have an i3 10-to-1 over a Mercedez B-Class. Besides my own standards of beauty, to which I think the i3 looks awesome and futuristic and the B-Class looks boring. Beyond that, I feel much better knowing the i3 sells well and I will be able to find support and parts in the future. The Mercedez product is more like a compliance car.

On the flip side, the B-Class is an established model in Europe, so parts are easy to find. This includes tires, which are really expensive (and single-sourced!) on the i3.

Maybe the B-Class is a little boring (I might use the word “conservative”), but I’m surprised that you — a LEAF driver — would concern yourself so much with appearance. 🙂

The B-Class ICE is also established in Canada, but they won’t sell the compliance B-Class Electric in Canada.

The tires the i3 uses are much less expensive than previously thought. TireRack stocks them now.

If the B-class had fast charging, I’d definitely choose it over the i3 BEV. Doesn’t look weird, nicer interior, seats 5, much more cargo space, and better top-end acceleration.

But it doesn’t, and the REx is very useful. So as it is, the i3 wins in my book, and probably in the eyes of most buyers.

(from Car and Driver:
i3 B-Class ED
0–60 6.5s 6.8 sec
0–90 16.4s 14.7 sec )

I don’t see Tony Williams posting, but Quick Charge Power is supposed to be coming out with a Rav4, B-class CHAdeMO.

The range is similar but the Merc has a lot higher capacity than the i3. This means their car is a lot less efficient.

The range is not similar, the 2015 B Class has an available range of 102 miles compared to the i3 range of 81 miles. So 20% more range and seating for 5 for the same price. I think the biggest issue is availability.

102 / 81 is more like a 25% increase, not 20%.

You obviously don’t know math, and 102 miles is only available by paying thousands extra. If I had to pay extra I would get the i3 REx and get a 150 mile range with gas fill up.

“You obviously don’t know math”


21 miles more than 81 miles…
21 / 81 * 100% = 25.9%

102 is 26% greater than 81.

So…who doesn’t know math?

“You can reasonably say that nobody today is making a battery-powered vehicle that’s economically viable in its own right.”

Really? Nissan? It’s well understood the LEAF generates a profit. His statement might be true if he is referring to tax credits and other subsidies.

I would say mercedes is dead on here with the leaf. The nissan/renault spent over $5B on R&D. They may find a way to recoup it, but the leaf volume and profits don’t cover that well at all. Leaf, volt, model S all are profitable on variable cost basis. Only the model S seems to be profitable enough to pay for its own R&D, but is investing in the model 3 and gigafactory. Mercedes should get lower cost parts with the gigafactory.

“I was given a fish, whereas BMW taught themselves to fish”

Never mind all that, in the end, they both got a fish. I do like that MB has the bigger fish. 🙂

Sheesh, I guess it’s just a dig at the competition and nothing more.

Mercedes provided Tesla with cash and contracts when they needed it. In return tesla has shown mercedes how to make a electric car. Seems like a great partnership and highly profitable for both companies.

BMW has taken a big risk and invested a great deal in cfrp. This may pay off in the end.

In the short term Mercedes looks better on the balance sheet when it comes to bevs and bevx, although that i8 looks like a nice phev flagship. Hey both of them look much better than toyota and honda.

This is a no brainer as i3 was designed from the ground up whereas the B class chassis was recycled from an existing ICE vehicle.

No the b-class was designed from the beginning with a sandwich floor to house a battery when available.

One point is correct, the five seats, but for the rest BMW has taken a better start to the electrification movement since they produce in house. This said, the real big difference will come if BMW put the rumored i5 on the market. A true 5 series sized sedan seating 5 and using the same technology as the i3. That is the car that will make Daimler regret not having invested as much as BMW from the start. By the way if the BMW i5 gets a deal with Tesla to have access to the superchargers it could actually become a true competitor to the Tesla Model III.

“You can reasonably say that nobody today is making a battery-powered vehicle that’s economically viable in its own right.”


Depends on yr metrics: Variable costs only or all costs? GAAP or non-GAAP accounting?

And Tesla can’t stand still. It needs/wants to invest billions of USD into battery plants and new assembly lines, car plants to keep up with the Big Boys.

Not to keep up with the Big Boys. He has already trumped them using just his first ground up vehicle.

But, to lead them into the next century of personal automotive transportation…

Nissan already has three battery plants, whereas Tesla has zero. So I’d say it’s at least catch up. If they bet on the right battery chemistry that have a change to leapfrog.

Tesla S should be profitable all on its own. Investments in gigafactory and model 3 should be accounted for differently when mercedes make such a statement. Super chargers are part of the S (needed to drive sales) but should be depretiated over a large number of years.

No one else is close

I guess he meant to said the rest of compliance cars, Tesla is out their league.

Careful, Mercedes. You may be letting your commitment level hang out.

Exactly. BMW is not only showing more commitment to their EVs by building an entire planned product line infrastructure, but by committing to the promotion of those products vigorously. People would hardly know the Mercedes EV existed if it weren’t for sites like Inside EVs talking about it or other sites mentioning it because of the Tesla connection.

Electric Car Guest Drive

Zetsche will change his tune after watching Tesla and BMW walk away with increasingly larger share of former MB customers each year.

Tesla and BMW are innovating, MB is resting on their… laurels.

People are starting to figure out that driving on the equivalent of $1 gallon gas means they can afford a much nicer car than otherwise.

But if it has both limited range and only slow charging and no Rex, it is not competitive in today’s market.

Tesla and BMW solve the problem in different ways, but both have a far more viable product. Sales stats will tell that story.

I’m with ya. B-Class EV = boring old school. BMW = cool, innovative and leading edge.

BTW – I’m a Volt owner but I still think what BMW has done is cool.

If they had quick charging for the b class ed they would be in the game. They really blew it compared to Nissan, GM, Tesla, BMW, and now KIA. VW even has a decent match for the Leaf, 4 years later, but their in the game. Diamlar is with Honda, Toyota and Fiat wineing on the sidelines that evs don’t work. Haha losers.

Call me old school, but I like the Benz. I also like a good cigar and a nice glass of Cognac.

By the way, it is the interior that does it for me. I mean, have you seen it?!?