Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus ConceptEnlarge Photo
At the start of this year, we told you that Mercedes-Benz was planning to introduce a B Class range-extended plug-in hybrid to the U.S. market some time during 2013.
Now it seems the German automaker has changed its mind, replacing plans for a plug-in hybrid with an all-electric B Class jointly developed with Tesla.
Better still, it could go on sale as early as 2014.
According to Automotive News’ sibling publication Automobilwoche, the luxury automaker is keen to have more than one electric car on sale in the U.S.
At the moment, the tiny Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is the only all-electric Mercedes-Benz U.S. customers can buy.
“We want to bring another battery-powered vehicle to the market,” a source at Daimler AG said.
With the current administration still keen to reach its goal of 1 million plug-in cars on the roads of the U.S. by 2015, Mercedes is hoping an extension of existing plug-in car incentives means that more consumers will make the switch to electric cars.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus concept. Image: Mercedes-Benz
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell Plus concept. Image: Mercedes-BenzEnlarge Photo
“Zero-emission vehicles receive more favorable classifications and higher incentives than vehicles with a range extender,” the source explained. “This is especially an issue in the U.S.
Like the all-electric A Class that Mercedes-Benz is working on, the U.S. market electric B Class -- which we assume will be known as the B Class E-Cell -- will be powered by a Tesla-developed drivetrain.
That includes a Tesla-developed motor, battery pack and power control circuitry.
While there are already other compact electric cars available in the U.S., an all-electric B Cell could be one of the first premium compact electric cars on the market.
There’s no word on price yet, although we’d expect it to be priced somewhere between the 2012 Ford Focus Electric and 2012 Tesla Model S in order to remain competitive.