Fewer automakers will display their wares at the 2009 North American Auto Show in Detroit, but Mercedes-Benz still plans on attending - and it's bringing three concepts, to boot. The Mercedes-Benz BlueZero concepts, which will make their world debut at the Detroit show, give a sneak peak at an upcoming production vehicle.
You may think the cars look remarkably like a B-class, and there's good reason for that. All three concepts are built on the sandwich architecture of the present A- and B-class subcompacts, and the BlueZero is reportedly a preview of the revised B-class due in 2010. Thus far, Benz has only shown us the BlueZero E-Cell concept, but we're told two other variants differ externally only in their vivid paint schemes.
What varies between the cars, however, is their powertrain. As its name suggests, the BlueZero E-Cell is designed as an electric vehicle. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack lies underneath the sandwich floor and feeds a 100-kW electric motor coupled to the front wheels. Mercedes claims that the E-Cell has a 62-mile range and fully recharges in a scant two hours.
Should that recharge time seem too long or that range too short for your tastes, you'll perhaps favor the E-Cell Plus concept. Most its drivetrain is shared with the E-Cell, but engineers also threw in a turbocharged 1.0-liter I-3 from a Smart ForTwo. Not unlike the Chevrolet Volt, the E-Cell Plus works as an extended range electric vehicle (ER-EV), which switches to the combustion engine once battery power is depleted, giving the car a 372-mile range.
The powertrain behind the BlueZero F-Cell may be the most advanced of the three, but it's hardly anything new - after all, Daimler's been testing hydrogen fuel cell systems in A-class cars since 2002. We're certain the system here is Mercedes-Benz's latest-and-greatest fuel cell stack, but they're not revealing many details, apart from the car's 248-mile range.
We hope to know - and see - more on the trio come January 11, when all three will be officially unveiled at the 2009 Detroit auto show. Stay with Automobile Magazine for the latest happenings on the Detroit show and the Mercedes-Benz concepts.
To read more about the Mercedes-Benz BlueZero Concepts, go to our 2009 Detroit auto show blogs coverage. All the latest blogs from the Editors of Automobile Magazine can be found HERE. We've got our whole staff wandering the floor at Cobo Hall bringing back live photos and more information about all the new debuts from Detroit.
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