With extensive experience in alternative fuel options, Mercedes-Benz chose this year's Frankfurt Auto Show for the first official showing of the Concept B-Class E-Cell Plus. Taking a page from the Chevrolet Volt, the B-Class concept combines the one-box architecture of the urban-oriented B-Class with both a lithium-ion battery ('energy accumulator' in Mercedes speak) and three-cylinder gas engine. Scheduled for production in 2014, the E-Cell Plus will provide owners with up to 60 miles of local, emission-free driving via its battery, and a total of up to 360 miles using both battery and gas. Range anxiety - as the Germans say - is kaput.
Packaging is helped in no small way by a B-Class platform designed to accommodate any number of alternative drivetrains and packaging. This includes a compartment under the rear bench seat affording space for the aforementioned energy accumulators. (Should you buy a conventionally powered B-Class, it can serve as a place to keep cans cool).
"The Concept B-Class E-Cell Plus shows that our range of compact cars is all set for the future. Range Extender further broadens the range of alternative drive concepts from Mercedes-Benz," noted Dr. Thomas Weber, the board member responsible for Group Research for Mercedes Cars Development. As with the Volt, the E-Cell Plus moves emission-free motoring from a niche category into a much wider consideration.
See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.
|DAVID BOLDT Began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.|