Mercedes-Benz is about to give Americans another choice of battery-powered vehicle. Offering more all-electric range than the Nissan Leaf or BMW i3, and with a smaller price tag than the Tesla Model S, the B-Class Electric Drive is officially set to arrive in the US this summer. Indeed, the first examples have begun rolling off the production line in Rastatt, Germany.

Featuring drivetrain parts from Tesla Motors, the luxury compact hits all the performance parameters mentioned during its debut at last year's New York Auto Show. For a refresher, that's a single-charge range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) along with a 0-to-100 kilometer-per-hour (62 mile-per-hour) sprint in a respectable 7.9 seconds. These achievements comes courtesy of a 28-kWh lithium battery located in the floor of the passenger compartment and a 132-kW (177-horsepower) motor powering the front wheels. Torque specs for the unit seemed to have increased somewhat and are now given as 340 Newton meters (250.77 pound-feet). It boasts an 11-kW charger and can add as much as 62 miles of range to a deleted battery in an hour and a half. Sadly, it is not Supercharger compatible.

The B-Class Electric Drive, which is built on the same production line as the gasoline-powered version, is going to go on sale in Europe around the end of the year and will also come in a right-hand drive version for other markets in 2015. Although pricing has not yet been announced, Mercedes execs expect it to be quite competitive with the BMW i3. Scroll below for the press release (Google translated from German).
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Model offensive: Mercedes-Benz launches first major series for electric cars - the start of production at Mercedes-Benz in Rastatt: B-Class Electric Drive begins
  • For the first time large-scale production of Mercedes-Benz models with internal combustion engine and electric drive on the same line
  • Stefan Abraham: "With the B-Class Electric Drive we are expanding our production portfolio at the Rastatt plant is a highly innovative drive variant."
In the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt today through the first B-Class Electric Drive off the line. This makes Mercedes-Benz models are produced with internal combustion engine and electric drive on the same line at the site for the first time. The B-Class Electric Drive is based on the Mercedes-Benz front-wheel drive architecture of the new Mercedes-Benz compact car generation and uses the modular component kit. The batteries are located safely in the underbody of the vehicle (Energy Space).

Stefan Abraham, Head of Mercedes -Benz plant in Rastatt: "With the B-Class Electric Drive we are expanding our production portfolio with a highly innovative drive variant. The full integration into the production process, we can manufacture all drive versions extremely efficient. "

The production of electric variant - specifically the stations for mounting the battery and electric motor components and the necessary wiring - could be integrated into the existing production workflow without changing the clock time . All staff employed at these new stations staff have undergone special training in which they were intensively trained in dealing with high-voltage technology under production conditions.

The B-Class Electric Drive comes first mid-2014 in the U.S. market, the end of the year starts with Germany the launch in Europe.

About the new B-Class Electric Drive

The B-Class Electric Drive presents itself with dynamic styling , high quality interior and a high-torque electric motor for local -emission -free driving - without compromising on comfort and safety. The electric drive train for the B-Class Electric Drive comes from the electric car pioneer Tesla Motors , Mercedes -Benz integrates it into the vehicle. In the past, the two companies have worked together successfully : So comes about the battery for the previous model of the smart fortwo electric drive of Tesla.

Also in the B-Class Electric Drive is a high-performance lithium - ion battery is used, which provides a range of around 200 km. It is neatly and securely housed - in the so-called " Energy Space" in the underbody of the vehicle. Through this clever packaging, the five-seater retains the known generous interior and luggage space of the B-Class.

For the locally emission-free driving with a maximum torque of 340 Newton meters, a 132 kW electric motor provides ( provisional figures) . This corresponds to the power delivery in about a modern gasoline engine with three liters. The result is an extremely dynamic acceleration from a standing start also the standard sprint from zero to 100 km / h in the electric-powered B-Class 7.9 seconds , top speed is 160 km / h ( provisional figures).

Charging allows the B-Class Electric Drive at each household outlet. At a wallbox or in public charging points at 400V, the charging time in Europe is due to 11 kW charger the vehicle 1.5 hours for about 100 km range .

About the Mercedes -Benz plant in Rastatt

The Mercedes -Benz Rastatt plant employs about 6,600 people, making it the largest private employer in the region . In a global Mercedes -Benz production network Rastatt is the center of the compact-car production. Here A and B-Class as well as the compact SUV GLA to be built. For compact-car production network also includes the plant in Kecskemét, Hungary . Approximately 3,400 employees manufacture there, the B -Class, which rolls off the line in Rastatt plant , as well as the four-door coupe CLA. The compact with the star evolve very positive: In March Mercedes -Benz sold 43,389 vehicles in the A- , B- , CLA and GLA -Class ( +26.4 %). The compact SUV GLA is available since mid-March when the European traders and convinces the customer . Last year, Mercedes -Benz has sold more compact car than ever : In total, 371 399 customers enthusiastic for a compact car with an asterisk ( + 64.0 % compared to 2012) .

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