Just as BMW starts delivery of the i3 in the US, Mercedes Benz has released pricing on the upcoming B-Class Electric Drive which is set for release this summer.
While the gasoline and diesel B-Class have been available in numerous markets around the world including Canada, it has never been available in the US.
What's so interesting about this B-Class release is that the US will be the first to get the electric version and we aren't getting any of the petroleum versions. And, it's a pretty nice car!
Here's a closer look at Mercedes Benz's newest compact electric car
The drivetrain was developed by electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and has a 28 kWh battery that's said to provide an 85 mile range. Typical of most EVs on the market today, the B-Class will gain about 60 miles of range in 2 hours on a 240 volt charger. And though lesser EVs such as the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i offer fast charging as an option, the B-class makes due with just the J-1772 connector good for 110 or 240 volts.
For those hoping that Tesla's involvement means access to Tesla's Supercharger network, the news isn't so good as this car will not be compatible.
Yet what makes this car stand out among the few competitors that it has is the up-market content that gives the car a decidedly premium feel at a price far less than Tesla's Model S.
For those who have driven the fossil-fuel version, this car should feel immediately familiar. There's nothing about the car that screams 'electric' in the way that Nissan's Leaf or BMW's i3 does. The interior has a quality look to it with premium material used where hands readily fall. There's seating for 5 that provides enough space for occupants on the short trips these vehicles will likely take.
While the B-Class Electric Drive rides on a platform shared by a conventional vehicle much like the Ford Focus Electric or Fiat's 500e, it differs from those 2 by having its batteries located under the floor thus keeping the substantial cargo space available for cargo. The Ford and the Fiat both suffer in this regard.
Nobody is expecting this car to become a sales leader, but with a stable platform by Mercedes Benz and a drivetrain by Tesla, this car is sure to find more than a few homes in the US. And with a price of $41,450 to start, it's within a few hundred dollars of BMW's new i3 and about $6,000 more than Ford's much less sophisticated Focus Electric.
Like other EVs, the B-Class qualifies for the $7,500 tax credit and, in some states, incentives to reduce the cost of acquisition. With an estimated yearly energy usage between $650 and $750, there are substantial savings to be had.
David Lardner is a volunteer at Team Clark Howard's Consumer Action Center. Check out his other articles on BMW entering the electric car market, developments in fast charging for electric cars, and a look at lowering the cost of electric car chargers.
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