Unveiled at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz Concept B-Class E-Cell Plus was meant to be a preview of the German automaker's first range-extended electric vehicle. Along with a battery pack to power it for 100 kilometers (62 miles), it was also to feature a 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline-burning engine to give it an additional 400 kilometers (248.5 miles). Indeed, a production version was to be shown this past April at the New York Auto Show.

Well, scratch all that. Maybe. If a report over at Automobilwoche is correct, the E-Cell Plus is losing the dino-juice burner and going all-electric. Not only that, they say that the entire powertrain will be supplied by the Tesla Motors.

The reason for pulling the plug on the engine? According to an unnamed spokesperson, zero-emissions vehicles get better ratings and higher incentives than vehicles with a range extender. As the B-Class E-Cell is supposed to be sold in the U.S., this is an important point.

News of a deal with Daimler to supply an entire powertrain for an upcoming vehicle came to light last November, but there have been rumors it might be for an A-Class. One thing we do know: Tesla expects this program to be much larger than its previous Smart ED arrangement or it supply agreement for the Toyota Rav4 EV.

While we wait for an official announcement from Daimler to clear up the situation, let us know in the comments if you'd prefer a Mercedes E-Cell or a Tesla Model S with similar range.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      res-holder
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would prefer a full Tesla version of a small hatchback. I love the Model S and really like the B-Class but if there was a choice, and I could have it soon, I would prefer a Tesla developed (from the ground up with the battery in the bottom) car over a modified B-Class.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Any word yet on the release of the 'actual' memorandum? The actual document may have target dates or explicit numbers that press releases don't cover.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Well, they ARE more specific than highlights and media blurbs. The 2009 MoU was more specific.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        MoU's don't usually get very specific. It will be followed up with an actual contract that deals with the specifics. An MoU just lets you know what they're thinking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorandum_of_understanding
      GSP
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would pick a 265-mile E-cell over the Model S, since it is more compact and maneuverable around town. A compact B or C segment EV with 265 mile range also beats the crop of sub-100 mile range EVs for utility, and it would beat the Chevy Volt by not needing a range extender. GSP
        Marco Polo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @GSP
        GSP "it would beat the Chevy Volt by not needing a range extender." But at three times the price, and needs a garage of it's own to recharge.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          The vast majority of BEV charging will occur at night, at the owner's home. While a garage might not be specifically required, some sort of charging outlet is, and that charging outlet coupled with a reserved defined space to park the BEV in while being charged equates in all practical aspects to a "garage." Whether there is a roof overhead is kind of irrelevant to the practical situation.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          You don't need a garage to recharge.
      spacycake
      • 2 Years Ago
      This news was confirmed by Daimler some days ago. They also claimed soaring demand for BEVs, because many people have ordered the new Smart electric Drive.
      christianii
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wouldn't buy a mercedes...i'd just get the Tesla...no need to pay mercedes mark up when i can get the original
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am surprised that Mercedes decided they needed to outsource the power-train after years of fuel cell vehicle development which required electric drive-train development. Perhaps they were totally unprepared to bring a full EV to market(with battery management) and they need a compliance vehicle. My guess is that this car, along with the Toyota Rav4 EV will end up as overpriced offerings and will be lease only at just few thousand units. I don't particularly care for the styling, it looks really boring - the huge gaping hole in the front is not be necessary. I am glad that Mercedes will be helping to finance the development of Tesla's Bluestar drive-train which should be about the same size, but with better styling & interior.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Compliance EVs are outsourced, it's the way to make a few cars without investing too much money. GM did it with the EV1, Toyota with the new RAV 4 EV, Ford with the Focus EV and now M-B with this. Get ready for the announcement of the closed-end release and 1,000 unit availability in only 3 states.
        throwback
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Not surprised MB is using Tesla tech. They might as well use a company that they have a vested interest in.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        "Perhaps they were totally unprepared to bring a full EV to market(with battery management)..." That might be a bit extreme of a statement to make, considering that they also have the Smart EV (Bosch and Evonik), and the A-Class E-Cell - and I almost forgot, the awesome SLS AMG E-Cell!
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Most FCVs today are actually hybrids (battery is designed as a buffer for the fuel cell, which acts like a generator in a typical hybrid). The power control is different (not to mention the charging system), so it's not a drop-in replacement.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @DaveMart, But you ignore that you need some serious modification to the body in order to get rid of the awkwardly shaped hydrogen tank. It actually changes the design of the car rather significantly.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Anne - please illustrate the "serious modification to the body" and how it "changes the design of the car rather significantly." in the case of the B-Class Mercedes, which is available already as an FCV.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @krisztiant Not sure what you mean by that. I was never a "fanboi" and there was no point at which I didn't "understand things". I think I have a better grasp of how FCVs are designed and operate than most FCV fans do.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @JakeY: I agree that you are no fan-boy. To the substance of your post: You can't simply drop in the other power train, but the complexity of going from a battery car to a FCEV should in no way be compared with what GM have done with the Volt. The drive train remains all electric, and the engine does not care where it's electrons come from. A PHEV ICE uses two entirely different systems.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Congratulation JakeY! Looks like you are starting to understand things (instead of just being a 'fanboi'). #congrats
        Chris M
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I don't think it was a case of "had to", more like a case of "Tesla is better". Tesla Motors has an excellent battery pack design, with the highest available energy density and the lowest price per Kwh stored currently available. Tesla Motors also has an excellent design for their motor and controller. M-B may end up using battery packs and motors similar if not identical to the ones used for Model S. The big question will be performance - will M-B use an expensive lightweight chassis, or go with a cheaper but heavier steel chassis? That could make a big difference in price, performance, and range.
          GSP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          Rotation, Tesla does have the most kWh per $ or kg. Just look up the cell specs, none of the large format cells are competitive. Pack specs are available for the Tesla Roadster, and you can substitute 3100 mAh cells for the Roadster's 2200 mAh cells to get a good estimate of the Model S pack's specific energy. GSP GSP
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          "The big question will be performance - will M-B use an expensive lightweight chassis, or go with a cheaper but heavier steel chassis?" Mercedes has looked into carbon fiber as an option: "For its part, Mercedes-Benz has signed a cooperation deal with Toray, a Japanese carbon fiber provider. Both SGL and Toray are seasoned material specialists that have also acquired strong know-how in terms of vehicle architectures, manufacturing processes, and cost-cutting methods." "E Superlight, a four-door notchback loosely based on the footprint of the next-generation E-class. A sedan may not have the marketing impact of a supercar or the deep green luster of a subcompact, but the E-class segment is Mercedes heartland and it harbors all the core brand values." "Mercedes will go one step further by creating a full carbon fiber architecture that does without an aluminum chassis. This is said to not only reduce cost and complexity, it also brings the weight down further. In all, the E superlight is said to undercut the current steel-bodied E-class by nearly 800 pounds. Powertrain and Production The sole initially intended source of propulsion is a 150-hp fuel cell that drives the rear wheels in sync with a 50-hp electric motor. At a later stage, Mercedes may add a conventional gasoline or diesel engine, or a plug-in hybrid application. Although the timing is still provisional, low-volume production is expected to commence in late 2015. By then, Mercedes will have gained plenty of carbon fiber experience by manufacturing body panels, suspension elements, and structural parts from the new material. By 2017, insiders expect an annual output of close to 20,000 E Superlight units, which is remarkably similar in volume to what the crew in Munich has in mind." http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/1201_mercedes_benz_e_class_superlight/ "We are not intending to build a particular fuel cell sub-brand that looks and feels different. Our customers would like to drive our E-Class as a fuel-cell car. It [fuel cell technology] would work beautifully in a regular sedan shape—normal Mercedes luxury, but filled with pressurized hydrogen. I am completely convinced the technology has the potential to take over the internal combustion engine, together with pure battery EVs in their niche. —Sascha Simon" http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/05/simon-20120517.html#more
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Chris M
          Tesla doesn't release their pack weight or size, so how do you know they have the highest pack energy density? It seems unlikely that Tesla has the most dense pack given they don't use large-format cells. Also, this vehicle is a factory conversion. It'll use the same chassis as any other B-class. So no, no expensive lightweight chassis.
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        TESLA's electric motor also has no rare-earth metals.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      btw who is stalking the tesla factory with a time lapse camera to check how many cars they produce?
      stumpy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'd prefer the MB E-Cell, but that's mainly because i like small hatchbacks and the B-Class is the perfect sized vehicle IMO
      Andy Smith
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks like the model S gave them a wake up call
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is an example of government subsidies undermining the more viable product option. When surveyed, people preferred the Volt over the LEAF 4:1, showing that consumers are more comfortable with an EREV configuration than BEV configurations, for a list of reasons. Daimler is acting in its own interest, and not in the interest of their consumers, which is why governments should not meddle in markets (or at least create a level field for all alternatives, and not their personal preferences).
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        Sales and survey results are two completely different things. The Volt certainly isn't outselling the Leaf 4:1 (the latest count puts the Leaf still ahead in total volume 24k worldwide vs 15k worldwide). And this has nothing to do with government subsidies favoring one over the other (the Volt gets the same tax credit). http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2883 If you looked at early survey results for the iPad vs netbooks, netbooks took a large majority in terms of preferences. But the actual sales certainly doesn't reflect that.
          Marco Polo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Jake Y (Sigh) can you tell me any foreign car maker that sells in the Japanese, heavily protected market ? The article is referring to Europe ! Do try to stay focused on the article, not find irrelevancies to distort the author's content,
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @Nick, You really think consumers are even remotely aware of the shared parts of Cruze and Volt vs Versa and LEAF? I think your trying to get too much out of that coincidence.
          Marco Polo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Jake Y Jake, The GM product out sells the Leaf, in sales areas where both cars are available! Obviously, including Leaf sales from area's like Japan, will produce a distorted result.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @Marco Polo That's GM's problem, not being able to expand their market. Nissan's problem is the exchange rate, which means Japan necessarily has to be included to see the whole picture. Even considering the supply situation with the Leaf, the Volt is 15k in the US, Leaf is 12k. That's nowhere near 4:1, it's not even 2:1.
        skierpage
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yes, it could be the E-Cell will be a compliance car... or it could be that a BEV makes more sense because it's easier to develop, easier to sell in Europe in low volumes, etc. But this is still a strange decision. Tesla made a few hundred second-generation Smart EDs for Daimler (does anyone know how many?) before Daimler brought the 3rd-gen Smart ED in-house using its own Evonik batteries, so the only reason to go back to Tesla is the in-house engineering was bad or is busy doing something else. Either way Daimler is fumbling electrics badly.
          Exooc news
          • 2 Years Ago
          @skierpage
          they took only batteries from tesla for 2nd gen... 3gen got batteries from joint venture between Daimler and Bosch (EM-Motive) and my speculation is that they might not have enough capacity
        Nick Kordich
        • 2 Years Ago
        "This is an example of government subsidies undermining the more viable product option. When surveyed, people preferred the Volt over the LEAF 4:1" Yes, just imagine where the Volt would've been today without meddlesome government subsidies. [Camera cuts to one crushed Volt prototype, rusting atop a stack of crushed EV1s, somewhere in the Arizona desert.] The Chevy Cruze (same platform as the Volt) outsold the Nissan Versa hatchback (same platform as the Leaf) by almost 4:1. So what you're actually saying is that when you convert one car to a PHEV and the other to a BEV then give them similar government incentives, they maintain almost the same preference ratio as when they're both simply gas driven? Interesting. I'd have expected 'range anxiety' to play a bigger part.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          (oops that comment was supposed to go here) You really think consumers are even remotely aware of the shared parts of Cruze and Volt vs Versa and LEAF? I think your trying to get too much out of that coincidence.
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          your -> your're Ah never mind, some preview or edit function would catch most of those typo's though.
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        Jason, I don't think you've quite got it. The "government" has been funding the hybrid concept since the Clinton administration. GM does know it's customer though. - Most Americans want no compromise. And GM price point isn't too much higher then a Leaf, if you take a Volt with no options, but a Volt can easily go to $45,000. The advantage of the Leaf is that you save the most money if your driving pattern fits it's range characteristics.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          That, was a shockingly good post.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      The tesla can go up to three hundred miles on a charge and needs no gas engine to do it. So no choice. Tesla.
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