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Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus Extended Range Electric Vehicle


The Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus concept. Image: Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus concept. Image: Mercedes-Benz

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For the time being, electric vehicles that combine battery power with a range-extending generator may be the best solution for those who can get by on battery power alone for most driving--but still sometimes need the range of a conventional gas or diesel-powered vehicle.

Chevy’s Volt is the only extended-range electric vehicle on the market today, but other automakers (such as Fisker) are beginning to offer them as well.

Now Mercedes-Benz is showing their interpretation of the extended-range electric vehicle, debuting the Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

More parallel hybrid than series hybrid (like the Chevrolet Volt), the B-Class E-Cell Plus can be powered by the batteries, by the batteries and generator, or via the gasoline engine at speeds above 37 miles per hour when the batteries are depleted.

The lithium ion batteries are said to provide a range of up to 62 miles, and are capable of powering the car to speeds of 93 miles per hour. When the batteries are drained, a combustion engine powers a 3.3 kilowatt generator and the car enters a “range extender” mode, giving it a total range of up to 372 miles.

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus concept. Image: Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus concept. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Enlarge Photo

Here’s where the B-Class E-Cell Plus differs from the Chevy Volt: Since the generator in the Mercedes is modest in power output, the car can only drive on generator and battery power at speeds up to 37 miles per hour.

At higher speeds, the E-Cell Plus is driven primarily by the internal combustion engine, with supplemental power provided by the electric motor. Excess power generated by the combustion engine is then used to charge the batteries, which Mercedes-Benz refers to as “energy accumulators.”

The Volt, on the other hand, gets its propulsion primarily from the electric motor at all speeds and at all levels of battery charge. The Volt’s combustion engine occasionally provides supplemental torque at high speeds, but only to lower energy consumption even further under certain specific circumstances.

As you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz, the B-Class E-Cell Plus will come packed with technology and safety features, including blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist, active parking assist and Pre-Safe, Mercedes’ own collision intervention system.

There’s good news and bad news on the production front: Mercedes will build the B-Class E-Cell Plus, but it will sell the extended-range electric vehicle in the European market only.

[Mercedes-Benz]

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Comments (4)
  1. This article makes no sense. First it is said, "...batteries are said to provide a range of up to 62 miles, and are capable of powering the car to speeds of 93 miles per hour." Then it is said, "Since the generator in the Mercedes is modest in power output, the car can only drive on generator and battery power at speeds up to 37 miles per hour."

    This makes absolutely no sense. How can the car be powered by battery power up to 92 miles per hour whilst the battery only powers up to 37 mph? One must assume the reference to 92 mph is referring to the ability of the car to reach 92 mph eventually, on the gas engine alone.
     
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  2. @Douglas, I think you missed my line "when the batteries are depleted." The E-Cell Plus has three modes:

    1. Battery only, with a maximum speed of 93 mph and a range of up to 62 miles.

    2. Battery and internal combustion generator, which is active only when the batteries have been depleted, and permits the car to travel at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour using power derived from the generator.

    3. Internal combustion engine, used when the batteries are depleted to achieve speeds above 37 miles per hour.

    Sorry for the confusion, and I hope this clears it up.
     
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  3. The Chevy Volt gas engine is connected directly to the transmission and does power the car at high speeds when the batteries are weak.
     
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  4. @Spike, not exactly. The Volt's gasoline engine isn't connected directly to the drive wheels (it's connected via a planetary gearbox), and there is no condition under which the engine provides primary power to the Volt. It provides supplemental torque at high speed, simply because the Volt's electric motor runs out of power at high RPMs. Getting supplemental power from the engine allows the Volt to "feel" more like a conventional automobile at high speeds.

    In other words, the Mercedes is designed to be powered by the engine without the batteries, whereas the Volt is always powered by the electric motor (supplemented, occasionally, by the gasoline engine).
     
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