- Emissions Free
- Interior spaciousness
- COMAND telematics needs a refresh
The manifestation of automotive mobility from earth’s precious oil resources to the state of electrification brings a spark of positivity to mankind, knowing there is a brighter future that allows humanity to rest on its laurels without the degradation and continuous destruction of the planet we live and breathe on. Global Warming or Global Cooling, experienced first hand in Maryland this past winter and spring, is not a myth and must be handled with precision and care. Why else did it snow in April? Fortunately, companies like Mercedes-Benz are dutifully playing their roles through the evolution of electric based vehicles such as the 2014 B-Class Electric Drive.
There is no secret that consumers are interested in societal progress and motivated by a sustainable consciousness. It’s a movement that would make the great Nikola Tesla proud. His scientific mind was embedded with futuristic ideas and electrical engineering inventions inclusive of robotics, alternative current, light sources, X-rays, remote control, radio, lasers, wireless communications and none other than his electric motor with rotating magnetic fields in 1930. Consumers today are familiarly aware of the all-electric car company bearing Nikola’s surname. Coincidence? I don’t think so. As well, Tesla builds the powertrain for the B-Class Electric Drive through a strategic alliance with M-B, who in fact experimented with electrification in 1906 when the German automaker announced the world’s first hybrid vehicle.
For an in-depth understanding of the Electric Drive Automotive Rhythms and our Autoganic outfit headed to Silicon Valley to spend time at M-B’s research lab. Known as the home of innovation, the Palo Alto based headquarters is a revolutionary science project harboring the industry’s next vehicle advances including EVs. Originally positioned for early adopters, consumers are now purchasing more green vehicles due to a few new factors such as supplementary government involvement, extended battery ranges and free public charging stations.
Keep in mind the B-Class is not an all-new vehicle for Mercedes and actually shares its versatile platform with the CLA and GLA. Electric Drive will be launched with a starting price of $41,450 excluding a $925 destination/delivery charge in July in the ZEV states (zero emissions vehicle states including CA, OR, MD, NJ, NY, ME, VT, NH, CT, MA and Washington, D.C.) and will expand to all 50 states in the first half of 2015.
The hatchback’s central componentry is an electric motor, which produces 177-horsepower (132 kW) and 251 lb-ft of instant torque. M-B equates this power to a typical 3-liter gas engine. Weighing 3,924.2 pounds, the B-Class EV has very good acceleration especially since it’s roughly 500 pounds heavier than the diesel version and weighs about 700 pounds more than the gas variant. A 28 kWh lithium-ion battery motivates the vehicle and is stored under the floorboard (from the rear wheel wells to the passenger seat), which the automaker conveniently calls the “Energy Space.”
The zero emissions componentry compromises no interior space and the cabin is perfectly comfortable for the driver and passengers. Moreover, the rear hatch area is very generous for storing luggage or supplies. Expect an average 85-mile drive range and an electronically limited top speed of 100 mph. Charging takes 3.5 hours with a level 2 (220v) power source and more than 30 hours from a standard home outlet.
While visiting the Research Center invited media plugged the B-Class Electric Drives into the row of charge stations positioned to the right of the front entrance. For added security and to defy “range anxiety” M-B offers the optional Range plus which provides an extension of up to 18 miles (15% increase). Just be warned that this technique could diminish battery life if applied extensively. The vehicle also comes with optional radar based energy recuperation technology that works through the steering wheel paddle shifters. The manually operated, 4-mode energy regeneration system converts kinetic energy into electric charges during coasting and braking.
Owners are offered a piece of mind knowing M-B covers the battery for eight years and 100,000 miles, in addition to roadside assistance and no-cost maintenance.
Inside, the vehicle resembles the usual M-B luxuriant cabin and feels bigger than actuality. Furthermore, the B-Class utilizes rear picnic tables, has back row seats that lay flat, incorporates real wood trim (but is hollow and feels cheap), features an optional, quality sound system from Harman/Kardon and houses the typical telematics from M-B’s traditional COMAND system that you will either love or hate.
It’s a quiet vehicle with minimal road noise, handling is good and an electric heated windshield with added insulation is granted when you opt for the range extender. Safety is in your corner with 7 airbags, Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Active Parking Assist.
Keep in touch with your B-Class EV by way of a computer or smartphone to monitor state of charge and range on map or to adjust climate control and notifications. It’s a phenomenal piece of work and a sustainable joy to drive!
|Automotive Rhythms is a multi-national lifestyle firm that blends evaluations of the latest cars, trucks, SUVs, and bikes around music, sports, fashion, travel and technology. Explore the world of Automotive Rhythms at www.AutoIconic.com|