Exclusive: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – Range Mode Increases Electric Range By 15%

APR 18 2014 BY TOM MOLOUGHNEY 52

Unlike the past few New York Auto Shows, this year’s exhibit doesn’t have a lot going on in the electric vehicle segment.

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

After spending some time getting in and out of the back seat of a BMW i8, I wandered over to the Mercedes area, which was right next to BMW’s display.  While there, I spent some time with Michael Schweizer, Daimler’s E-Mobility program manager for Mercedes-Benz USA.

The B-Class Electric Drive will make its US debut this summer and will initially be available only in ten states (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont). However, by early 2015, availability will be expanded to include all fifty states.

Power is derived from a Tesla Motors developed powertrain consisting of a 100-kilowatt (174-horsepower; 250 lb-ft torque) electric motor and battery pack. That’s good enough to propel the electric Benz from zero to sixty miles per hour in under eight seconds. The B-Class Electric Drive can charge at up to 10kWs on a 240V source, but will not have DC Quick charging available, at least initially. This is a relatively big mistake in my opinion. Hopefully, Daimler realizes that soon and adds DCQC availability on future models.

Of course, all of that has been already announced, but I did manage to uncover some good news for those interested in the B-Class Electric Drive. From the time it was first announced, Mercedes has been maintaining the car will have a 28kWh battery pack, and that would be the total pack size. Considering the B-Class Electric Drive is about 3,900lbs, that left many to assume it would be another 80-mile electric car.

If the total pack size was 28kWh, the usable amount of energy would likely be about 25kWh and given its weight, the range wouldn’t be any more than a LEAF or BMW i3.

Now, for the good news. I was able to confirm new details previously unreported:

1) The amount of usable energy is 28kWh; that is not the total pack size.
2) The 28kWh represents what is available in “Standard Charge Mode,” which is what the car defaults to.
3) Like the Tesla Model S, you can select “Range Mode” before you begin charging and in doing so you’ll have more of the battery pack available, which will increase your range by approximately 15%

This means that by using Range Mode, the driver will likely have 33kWh at their disposal. Obviously, this isn’t going to encroach on Tesla-range territory, but it will give the B-Class Electric Drive the ability to claim the longest all-electric range of any electric vehicle (aside from Tesla) available nationwide.

I expect 100 miles per charge should be easily attained using range mode.

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

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52 Comments on "Exclusive: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – Range Mode Increases Electric Range By 15%"

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Cool – thanks for the information!

If this is true, it would definitely set the Mercedes apart from the pack. Now about that DCQC…

Yeah, imagine this car with either Tesla Supercharging or Chademo. That would rock!

Mercedes has agreed to the CCS fast charging standard. There will be no CHAdeMO system. And Tesla will not make available its Supercharger system to any other manufacturer (at least for now).

And wisely so – if you’ve been reading what Mercedes execs have been telling the press at the New York Auto Show about Tesla.

In fact, I believe Tesla keeping it’s charging system proprietary is one of the smartest things they’ve done.

Money changes everything. Pay Tesla $0.50-1.00/kWh (so ~$4-8k per car if it does 10% of 200k lifetime miles on superchargers), and they’ll be glad to accommodate MB or anyone else.

Mercedes will use CCS, and hopefully soon. Not having DC quick charging is 1990’s thinking, and needs to be corrected.

Tesla has said that they will allow other manufactures to buy into their supercharger network, on Tesla’s terms of course.

GSP

How much will it cost?

Hi Tom,

Wow the first 100+ miles car (except Tesla, and the RAV4 compliance car). That is indeed good news. Thanks for the scoop! Of course the other manufacturers will follow in 2015 and 2016, but Merc is the first.

If we take the ‘standard’ range, then i3, eGolf, eUp, and the Renault also go over 100 miles.

If you hyper mile it.

Not if you drive like an average driver.

Woah, that is very nice!

Martin Messer Thomsen

Lack of fastcharge posibility is a big miss with such a big battery 🙁

I wasn’t expecting car companies like BMW and Mercedes to put out wacky looking EV’s… but i was wrong.

The gas version of the B Class has been out awhile and looks exactly the same. It is a mini wagon like the CMax.

Now that you mention it, it has crossed my mind that Futurama design flurries like i3 do contribute to the public mindset that EVs are too weird to be considered “mainstream”. Nissan made the LEAF odd-looking and many, myself included, chalked that up to putting function over form ( great aero cd ). But since Nissan is predominately an ICE-pushing SUV hawker, just like the others, I have had my doubts that Nissan knew the design of the LEAF would limit it’s takers somewhat.

So am I a conspiracy theorist, or do you believe there is some merit to auto companies making their EVs look a bit too different as not to ensure their mass acceptance?

Like the VW’s e-Golf? 😉

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I bet there’s a backroom deal between legacy automakers and Big Oil that EVs either have to be ugly, slow, overpriced, or have onboard gensets (or a combo of the 4).

LOL. But to further my supposition – it would mean that Nissan, BMW and others who plan to do something other than an EV version of an existing ICE model may want to insure only early adopters bite – because we are already so sold on electric vehicles that we may not care as much what they look like as long as the function is there.

Remember, these legacy automakers pay their bills from sales of ICE gas pigs. Nobody has really stepped up to the plate and committed to building EVs in numbers that would make sense to actually make a profit. Their beancounters know what that break-even number is, and so far – I’m certain none of them has reached anywhere near that number. With their negative view on the future of electric propulsion, we know it’ll take Tesla to literally drag all of them into building pure-EVs and PHEVs with adequately-sized battery packs. So it makes sense that they make an i3 look goofy, or LEAF look like a catfish.

Not really efficient… 33 kWh battery pack for 100 miles. I already do the same and even more with my 22 kWh ZoE battery… I really hope drivers could drive more than 130 miles with such a huge pack!

In real life, at normal highway speeds, the range of the Zoe is more like 130 km, not 160. For 160 you need ideal weather and keep your speed around 80-90 km/h.

What will make or break the range of the B-class is not primarily the weight, but aerodynamics. It has a low drag coefficient of 0.26. Perhaps they have shaved off another 0.01 for the electric version. Neither the LEAF nor the Zoe come close (both 0.29 iirc).

Another point is the drivetrain efficiency, which may also be better than the competition. So it might very well beat that 100 mile EPA range.

Those are very valid points Arne! I always make the mistake, just to look at the weight. But of course you are right with the drag (especially at highway speeds) and the efficiency of the drivetrain.

Anybody claiming The B-Class Electric has a better drag coefficient than the LEAF is crocked. I’m sorry, but all the EVs, PHEVs and hybrids on the market that are converted versions of existing car bodies suffer from one huge flaw – that large gaping grille. Sure-slap in shutters or plastic panels to help keep our air – but a flat slab is still a flat slab. Compare LEAF’s body which was designed from the ground up to slice through the air, with B Classe, which was designed from the start to suck in massive amounts of air to cool a radiator. Add the tall profile of a mini-CUV, and there is no way B-Classe is slicker through the air than a LEAF.

Aerodynamics can not be judged by eye. We have wind tunnels for that. The wind tunnel says the B-class is 0.26 and the LEAF is 0.29.

@ Arne NL Arne – I believe one can do a very good job indeed assessing good aero by sight. Case-in-point: The Mercedes “Bionic Car” circa 2005 which was an engineering exercise meant to seek clues from nature – in this case, the Boxfish, which has an extremely efficient, hydronamically-slick shape Mercedes mimicked with the car. I can eyeball the Bionic Mercedes and immediately sense the car is slick and would slip through the air easily just as anyone can tell a shark is slicker through water than a scared puffer fish. The Bionic Mercedes reached an overall cd score of .19. You can see that this B Classe has a distinct disadvantage due to the grille’s shape and width compared to the experimental Mercedes exercise. B Classe was originally designed to possess a typical gas or diesel engine with means it couldn’t have the pointed and sloped nose of the Bionic Car. Also, like it’s inspiration, the Boxfish, the Bionic Mercedes’ tail narrows radically at the rear, insuring less turbulent wind action off the back, which we know causes drag. I see no such similarities with B Classe, yet in Nissan LEAF or Tesla MOdel S I can see… Read more »

Here’s the Mercedes design exercise called, The Bionic Car for comparison.

http://y-mercedes.blogspot.com/2008/02/mercedes-benz-bionic-fish-car-concept.html

“Arne – I believe one can do a very good job indeed assessing good aero by sight”

Please explain why you eyesight clearly fails to recognize the B-class’ 10% lower Cd compared to the LEAF?

The numbers don’t lie, but your eyes clearly do. That’s why engineers trust on measurement, as do all scientists.

OK, I already get 104 miles per charge on my Chevy spark EV with freeway/expressway 60-40 mixed driving.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

In Minnesota?

😉

In many ways I can’t figure out BMW’s obsession with the low weight of carbon fiber. It doesn’t seem to result in appreciably more range and they didn’t bother to put in a bigger battery pack to take advantage of it. The B class sort of shows that “weight” isn’t such a huge deal in th big picture of range (the current big EV drawback for the average Joe). Now, I WILL say that lighter often equals better from a “fun to drive” standpoint, so the i3 should have that going for it (but then, why make it look like a mini-van???). On the upside, the more electric-choice, the better.

I’ve noticed added MPG in my Volt and hybrid when on the freeway when the cars are loaded down with passengers and cargo! I’ve surmised this to be the lower stance, reducing aero cd. I think it also can be the added ability to use momentum. Added weight gives you that downhill momentum to carry you up the other side or longer on a flat after a hill.

That said, imagine a Model S with BMW’s CFRP for it’s bodywork. Coupled with the adjustable ride height, you have to think that would be a big winner.

I can’t visualize ANY EV being considered lightweight due to the batteries, but “lighter weight”, yes.

Just plain physics would seem to predict that something of a lighter mass would take less energy to propel. BMW pulled out all the stops it seems, even equipping i3 with the skinniest tires made. I’m with you on the puzzling i3 sentiment – the whole car doesn’t seem to make sense.

It requires more energy to move a heavier car, but you may see a benefit on trips that are downhill, as you were saying. However, the added energy required on the uphill will result in a net loss.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Not just lighter weight, but the bodywork mass is high up while battery mass is low, so reducing the mass of the bodywork lowers the center of gravity as well.

Presumably Tesla could develop CFRP roofs, hoods, and trunklids for starters, move into fenders later, as long as they don’t compromise safety.

I predict a $60K+ price tag!

Thanks Tom,

Did you see a statement to the effect it would also be sold in MA, and ME?

MB previously said “…B-Class ED will be available starting summer 2014 at authorized Mercedes-Benz dealers in select states — CA, CT, MD, OR, NJ, NY, RI and VT — and then nationwide in early 2015.”

Needs DCQC and a nosecone. 😉

And a serious diet!

This truly is great news, and frankly a bit of a surprise. So, i guess I’ll believe it when I see it.

My estimates for Mercedes B-Class ED battery:

36.0kWh total – 100% SOC
33.2kWh usable- 95.0% SOC
28.0kWh usable- 80.0% SOC
1.0kWh unusable- 2.7% SOC

Rav4 EV with Tesla drivetrain:

45.0kWh total – 100% SOC
41.8kWh usable- 95.1% SOC = [( 41.8 + 1.0) / 45]
35.0kWh usable- 80.0% SOC = [( 35.0 + 1.0) / 45]
1.0kWh unusable- 2.2% SOC = [1.0) / 45]

Estimated range:

Range at 65mph (100km ground speed) on dry, hard surface level road with no wind or cabin climate control with new condition battery at 70F:

B-Class ED – 3.8 miles per kWh (263 wattHours per mile) * 33.2kWh = 126 miles

Rav4 EV – 3.4 miles per kWh (295 wattHours per mile) * 41.8kWh = 142 miles

LEAF – 4 miles per kWh (250 wattHours per mile) * 21.3kWh = 85.2 miles