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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Electric Choices on The Horizon

The Mercedes B-Class EV will be available in the US in early 2014
Back in 2008 when I first applied to lease my MINI-E, there were very little electric vehicle options. If you wanted to drive an electric car you could build one yourself,  you could buy a $109,000 Tesla Roadster or you could do as I did and apply to lease the MINI-E. A lot has changed in the past 5 years. Today you can buy or lease one of about 10 cars that plug in, and the good news is more are on the way.

I was paid a visit yesterday by some nice men from Daimler who stopped by my restaurant for some lunch and just happened to have one of the few Mercedes B-Class EV's made. It's basically a standard B-Class that has been fitted with a powertrain and battery pack that is supplied to Daimler by Tesla. It has a 28kWh battery, a 134 hp motor with 228 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes says it will go 0-60 in "under 10 seconds",  it has a top speed of 100 mph and has a city range of 115 miles. I expect the EPA range rating to come in pretty close to what the BMW i3 does (about 90 miles per charge).
The i3 with the rear seats down
It seats 5 and has a lot of cargo room in the back, especially with the rear seats down, although it didn't look like they will lay flat when down like the BMW i3's rear seats do. While this is really a different vehicle from the i3, it is inevitable that comparisons will be made. They are both electric vehicles with similar range from premium German auto manufacturers that will be released about the same time. They will probably be similar in cost, although I believe the Benz will cost a few thousand dollars more. However they couldn't be any more different
Parked out in front of Nauna's
if you look at how their manufacturers produced them. Mercedes took an existing gas car, outsourced the drivetrain and battery system from Tesla and put it together. BMW basically reinvented the car with the i3. It's a purpose designed and built electric vehicle, the first volume production car ever to be made mostly of aluminum, carbon fiber and thermoplasic and has an entirely different manufacturing process from any other car ever made. BMW has incorporated mostly all renewable energy, materials and processes in the entire manufacturing chain. It is indeed a giant leap forward in car manufacturing. All that said, do customers really care about all that? Some do for sure, but I suspect many feel that they are already doing their part by buying an electric vehicle alone, so they really may not care how it was made. They want a car that's fast and fun, has utility and is affordable. So how much the sustainable manufacturing process impacts sales is yet to be seen. 

These are just a couple of the new electric offerings coming to market within the next year. I hadn't really given the B-Class much consideration but after seeing it in person and talking with the folks from Daimler it seems like they are really making a go at it. That's good news because the more electric choices the better!
The 2014 BMW i3

The 2014 Mercedes Benz B-Class EV


  1. Looks pretty nice Tom. So did they come by to get your approval? ;)

  2. Did you drive? They are trying to steal you haha

  3. I've gotta say, In my opinion, the BMW i3 is a heck of a lot better looking that the Benz.

    1. I agree Peder. However you and I seem to be less adverse to change than the average person. The i3's styling is definitely unconventional and I think there are a lot of people out there that are a little off-put by it. It was really nice of MB to stop by though. They seem to be genuinely interested in putting out the best EV they can and are confident it will be a real competitor to the other electric vehicles out there - other than Tesla of course. We'll see. 2014 is going to be fun. Don't forget the Cadillac ELR is coming then also.

    2. Hi Tom, I know this is a long shot, but do you think that B Class owners would be able to charge at Tesla Super Chargers since this is a joint venture (sort of) with Tesla?

  4. Very interesting Tom, thanks for the writeup.

    Cadillac ELR details (incl. pricing) are supposed to be coming out next week at Concours.

  5. That is pretty amazing to have what is essentially a preproduction electric Mercedes pull-up out of nowhere. If their goal was to get a picture of their car on your blog, they succeeded. And though it is good looking, I think it's a bit dull compared to the i3.


  6. I don't think anyone following Tom's blogs for any length of time believe they just showed of out of thin air. MB was either trying to tweak BMW or is up to something even more sinister

    BC Robert

  7. "Today you can buy or lease one of about 10 cars that plug in"

    And now three different motorcycles. Mission will finally sell units to the public at large.

  8. Tom,

    Echoing everyone else... Great catch.

    If they're looking to get Tom into a MB EV instead of an i3 and willing to do it NOW... I MAY still have a fighting chance to catch up in miles...

    The pending addition to my EV fleet, however, will probably sabotage that... Let me just say... 3.9 seconds is too tempting not to drive in a more regular basis (as long as the better half lets me drive her soon to be here EV).