Mercedes-Benz has dropped its 'E-Cell' designation for electric cars, and adopted the Electric Drive moniker previously seen on the electric Smart Fortwo, with a new electric B Class.

Set to be unveiled at the Paris Auto Show next week, the B Class Electric Drive is the latest in a line of Mercedes-Benz electric concepts, pointing the way to future production versions.

Like the old A Class E-Cell, the Electric Drive makes the most of a sandwich floor, which Mercedes terms an 'Energy Space', to house the electric components.

This allows the car's lithium-ion battery to be positioned low in the chassis, lowering its center of gravity, and ensuring passenger space isn't compromised.

There's enough juice for 124 miles of range, and the 134-horsepower, 228 pound-foot electric motor should make for sprightly performance.

Battery-electric propulsion isn't the only power choice for the B Class, either. Mercedes-Benz suggests the car is also suitable for fuel-cell powertrains--just like the old B Class F-Cell--and of course, the company also produces gasoline and diesel variants.

Mercedes does hint that the concept is almost production ready however, and that a market launch is already planned for 2014.

Electric Drive badging will find its way onto every Mercedes electric vehicle, and the B Class will be joined in Paris by production versions of the SLS AMG Electric Drive--previously SLS AMG E-Cell--and the smart BRABUS electric drive.

For more information on the Paris show, why not head over to our dedicated 2012 Paris Auto Show page?


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