2014 Mercedes BClass Electric Drive Reviews new electric cars 2013 2014

24 Фев 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2014 Mercedes BClass Electric Drive Reviews new electric cars 2013 2014 отключены
Mercedes Electric Cars

2014 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive

Electric and hybrid cars have a pretty good future and one of proofs is the 2014 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive. Instead of a large V8 and V6 units that we usually are getting from Mercedes now we have battery pack and electric motor. This is a first B Class model that will be delivered to the U.S. market.

Most of the systems that charge and run the little B-Class will be shared with its bright-yellow sibling: the upcoming SLS AMG Coupe E-Cell. Both systems are part of a deep tech partnership between Mercedes parent company Daimler and Tesla. Fruit from this sharing agreement has been limited to date, and arguably, some of the most sour fruit on the branch via the Smart ED. That car ran Tesla Roadster parts, but downsized.

The resulting “car” was appallingly slow. Tesla didn’t seem to be sharing the good, M5-beating stuff yet.

This is set to change when the B-Class Electric Drive hits U.S. showrooms in January 2014. The model will arrive in dealers first before a limited roll-out in Europe.

As Mercedes’ first viable EV, the B-Class Electric is a complete package that excels in its mission of effortless city efficiency plus Mercedes-levels safety, durability, luxury and ownership experience.

The exterior of the B-Class Electric Drive looks … and refined, and echoes the latest Mercedes’ nose treatment for its small car family. This includes the large “soft nose” grille and bumper combo, oversized star logo front and center, and ultra-modern headlamps. The headlamps are a particularly nice feature in this application; they dress up the car’s nose delightfully with white LED daytime running lights and LED turn signals – both swooping up the headlamp’s top edge almost like an eyebrow. Pleasing enough.

But that eyebrow line continues nicely up the doors and gives some much-needed shape to the car’s profile.

From the side, the B-Class is plainly a small utility wagon. The relatively high roofline leaves it desiring some of its siblings’ style. The window line is completely functional and would be perfect for small families or light-taxi duty.

All models feature a large, all-caps “Electric Drive” across the hatch.

Some nice detailing sets the car ahead of the Prius V plug-ins and Ford C-Max Energis of the world. Large wheels and body-colored fender flares add appeal and give the functional box a pretty ‘slammed’ appearance. No doubt for aerodynamics over style, but the good end result is the same.

The interior of this plucky little Benz is decidedly modern and will appeal to Mercedes devotees and newcomers alike. It features the latest Mercedes leather-trimmed steering wheel, familiar switchgear and quality materials at every touch point.

The seating position is much more upright and van-like than an E350 Sport and the tall wagon proportions make the dash pad and footwells seem very compact indeed. Driver visibility past the heavy-duty A-pillars is very poor. Luckily, the broad windshield and semi-elevated driving position helps overcome that.

Moving rearward, the car features belts for three in the backseat. Headroom appears outstanding and the seat promises spacious accommodation for two adults. For families, the bench will easily seat three kids or two rear-facing child seats.

It splits and folds to enlarge the cargo area for transporting Ikea furniture.

On the move, the electric B-Class is a revolution. In the typical electric way, the car is eerily silent, making bumps, thunks and tire rumble are about the only noticeable noises in city driving. Addressing an electric car weakness, the B-Class also isolates occupants from louder cars in traffic.

This is credited to Mercedes’ expertise in the luxury segment with expertly designed glazed glass, triple sealed doors and thick insulation.

The B-Class shares core dash hardware with the CLA-Class, including the five round SLS-style air vents embedded in the swooping middle dash panel. Featuring a muted wood trim on the debut model, it doesn’t quite excite as well as the CLA 250’s technical patterns or shiny aluminum look.

We start seeing some references to the B-Class’s efficient mission as soon as the displays power up. Charging and consumption displays are visible on the chrome-trimmed, tablet-style navigation unit and also the TFT info screen between the main dials. Similar to the Tesla Model S, the electric B-Class utilizes the column-mounted gear selector from the current S-Class.

This allows a smooth center armrest area in the Model S, but the center console is decidedly more cramped in the B-Class.

The B-Class also features on-board 3G connectivity, the tech that Tesla has used extensively to push software updates wirelessly to each car. At its core, the car basically has its own cell phone data plan, with monthly subscription fees. (The services are expected to remain free to drivers for the time being).

With the B-Class’s connective features, owners can manage their vehicle remotely from a tablet, smartphone or desktop. Functions will include scheduled charging intervals, letting users check the charge status or pre-warm the car on chilly days. All features will be built into a Mercedes-branded application, something familiar to Volt and Leaf owners, or will be available via a unique vehicle homepage.

The B-Class Electric Drive ticks almost all the boxes of modern car buyers, including voice control and full smartphone audio integration via USB. Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming is expected as well but remains unconfirmed.

The COMAND suite of technology features in-car internet access, social features and integrated route planning that highlights charging stations on the way.

The B-Class Electric Drive is deceptively simple in its technical layout. In contrast to most Mercedes technical drawings, even the detailed press image has only a few labels here and there describing what’s what. This matches the company’s strategy to make this car one of the easiest electrics to understand and operate. To make it sales friendly, they’ve helpfully described the 100 kW electric powertrain thusly:

“Typically for an electric drive, the maximum torque of 310 Nm [229 pound-feet] is available right from the first tap on the accelerator pedal – this roughly corresponds to the torque delivery of a modern petrol engine with a displacement of 3.0 liters.”

The single-speed electric drivetrain is most similar to a classic automatic in how it drives. It is well behind a gasoline-powered 3.0 in the 0-to-60 mph dash, where the “under 10-seconds” time for the B-Class is nearly three seconds off the pace set by the C300 Sport. The perceived time is much shorter, however, because the electric trumps gasoline power up to about 40 mph.

From 40 mph on, the electric drivetrain gains speed in a yawn-inducing manner. Beware of a scary freeway merge, let alone passing on a country road.

Top speed is electronically limited to 100 mph but most drivers will give up by 75 or so. They’ll notice some pressure on the accelerator pedal and range warnings as the car almost actively discourages fast lane cruising. Even the supercar-fast Tesla Model S Performance feels happiest below 80 mph.

Keeping with the simplicity selling strategy, Mercedes has simplified the charging promises for the electric B-Class. Using a 240-volt/40-amp outlet, the company quotes a 2-hour-period to 50-percent charge, which nets the B-Class about 60 miles of range. On a full charge (estimated to be 6 hours), the car has a better-than-most driving range of 115 miles.

Mercedes follows the latest electric car thinking by building a special high-power charger unit into the car itself. This saves buyers the need to install a big charging box on their garage wall, and instead works with normal power outlets to charge its on-board batteries as fast as it can.

While unconfirmed, the B-Class Electric Drive might be the first non-Tesla that is both compatible with, and allowed to charge at, the company’s so-called “Supercharger” stations that dot the California coast and are planned to expand across the country.

Mercedes Electric Cars

The electric Benz uses standard components for its suspension and braking systems. It dips into the top range B-Class units and then tailors them to the B-Class Electric’s unique dynamic properties.

Despite being designed with a flexible “energy space” under the cabin floor and a lightweight Lithium Ion battery pack, the B-Class gets special tuning by Mercedes chassis teams. The company seems focused on comfortable suspension settings to match the laid-back EV driving experience.

Ever a concern for safety pioneer Mercedes, the B-Class Electric has undergone some of the world’s most rigorous safety and durability tests ever conducted. The B200 cousin of this car achieved a 5-Star Euro NCAP performance and Mercedes will try for top crash-safety scores from the NHTSA and IIHS for the Electric Drive model.

Regenerative braking is a large part of any EV’s tech package, and the electric B-Class follows suit. The brake heat is recaptured and converted into battery power. The braking package will also help safety efforts via traction and stability control systems.

On the road, the silent little wagon has a shy but plucky personality that is actually pretty refreshing from the joyless Germans. Being based on the work-a-day B-Class platform is a big benefit here. That car is tuned for a dynamic responsiveness that matches its mission as a commercial vehicle in many European cities.

The electric B-Class will likely mute most of the harshness of euro city cars, but keep some agility via the quick steering rack and responsive throttle.

Mercedes has not decided final prices for the B-Class Electric Drive. It will be juggling the need to pay for the cutting-edge Lithium Ion batteries and the desire to actually sell in good numbers. Considering its mechanical package, promised range, and competition, prices in the mid $40s seem most likely.

As the first pure EV model for the brand, with special need to monitor electricity consumption, the B-Class ED will feature fewer option packs than most Mercedes models. Instead, the car is expected to ship in a just a handful of well-equipped specifications. More details as they become available.

The B-Class Electric Drive is interesting for a few reasons but likely will be made in such small volumes that the B-Class will remain an oddity stateside.

Ultimately, the most exciting thing about this car is that it exists at all. Coming from Mercedes, buyers can feel confident that the technology is … enough for easy, safe operation day in and day out.

This confidence will be critical in luring potential buyers. Will AMG fans like it? No. But looking at city families and aging boomers, a market niche is clearly visible.

Mercedes-Benz luxury and zero gasoline: the loudest sound you’ll hear is your own calm heartbeat.


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