At the NAIAS this January in Detroit, Mercedes-Benz unveiled a triad of sleek EV concepts called BlueZERO. The modular build of the three concepts makes it possible for them to share architecture and technology, such as front-wheel drive, but have three different drive system configurations. That hasn't changed, but a new technology has been added to the E-CELL PLUS: a traditional 3-cylinder combustion engine.

It may seem like a step backward, going from pure battery-electric to battery-electric-gas hybrid power, but adding the combustion engine makes sense from a feasibility standpoint. Without it, the E-CELL PLUS's range isn't nearly as impressive, and if the battery depletes while in use, drivers can simply re-fuel at a traditional gas station, rather than wait for their battery to charge. With the range extender, the E-CELL PLUS can run 100 km (62 miles) on pure electric power, then another 500 km (310 miles) using the gas-electric combination. To get the entire 100 km range from the battery, it must be fully charged, which Mercedes-Benz says will take a little more than one hour.

With the range extender, Mercedes-Benz seems to be addressing the concern that some potential EV buyers have expressed: how do we conveniently re-fuel our vehicles until an appropriate infrastructure can be built? For those concerend less about that, and more about traditional performance indicators, not to worry. Mercedes-Benz has thought about that, too: all three BlueZERO vehicles can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in less than eleven seconds, with a top speed of 150 km/h.

Mercedes-Bez plans to produce a small batch of fuel cell vehicles this year, and another small batch of pure battery electric vehicles next year.

Source and photo: Daimler (login required)