First Look: 2010 Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus

The Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus is the third -- and final -- version of Mercedes-Benz's eco-friendly modular concept cars to be unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show.

"The Concept BlueZero offers a triple demonstration of the technical maturity of alternative drive systems from Mercedes-Benz," said Prof. Herbert Kohler, Daimler's chief environmental officer and leader of future mobility programs. "Electric vehicles with battery electric or fuel cell drive systems will not truly be on an equal footing with today's combustion engine drive systems until customers are confident that there is a sufficient infrastructure of electricity and hydrogen refueling stations."

The E-Cell Plus is an extended-range version of the E-Cell EV concept shown at the 2009 Detroit auto show. In addition to the electric powertrain, the E-Cell Plus sports a small turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine, which mainly serves to recharge the battery pack and extend the driving range of the concept. Actually driving the front wheels is a 94-hp (70 kW) electric motor, allowing the E-Cell Plus to scoot from 0-60 mph in under 11 seconds.

Like the other BlueZero "Cell" concepts (E-Cell and F-Cell) shown, the battery in question is a lithium-ion battery pack, which has a total capacity of 18 kWh. Mercedes-Benz claims the pack can be charged within 30 minutes to a state that allows 30 miles of EV driving, but a complete charge allows 62 miles of driving on electricity alone.

As was the case with its siblings, the E-Cell Plus is built atop a modular architecture, which Mercedes sees as a means to reduce the cost of producing small, high-tech vehicles like this. A modular package also allows the automaker to offer a variety of powertrain offerings (depending on cost, market, and available technology), and grants designers more flexibility and packaging the vehicle.

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