Many small electric cars are best used for short distance trips within big, bustling cities – so perhaps Mercedes-Benz’s decision to unveil the new 2014 B-Class Electric Drive hatchback at the 2013 New York auto show is more than fitting.
If the B-Class looks somewhat familiar, it should. This second-gen model – which shares its basic MFA architecture with the A-Class and the new CLA sedan – has been on sale in gas and diesel-powered forms in other markets since 2011. B-Class models fitted with internal combustion models will not be sold in the United States (note: this isn't the case in Canada), but the B-Class Electric Drive will.
As the name suggests, the B-Class Electric Drive eschews the ICE in favor of electric propulsion. A 100kW (134 hp) electric motor drives the front wheels, and is fed by a 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack sandwiched beneath the car’s floor. Stomp on the accelerator pedal, and the B-Class Electric Drive can sprint from 0-60 mph in under ten seconds. Repeated top-speed runs will, however, eat into battery range. M-B estimates there’s about 115 miles of range on a fully-charged battery. Want a quick recharge? A half-charge, good for roughly 60 miles of travel, can be accomplished in two hours, provided you have access to a 40-amp, 240-volt charger.
Standard equipment on all B-Class Electric Drive models includes a navigation system with a 5.8-inch color display, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with a USB input, heated front seats, and remote connectivity, which allows owners to monitor charging and climate control pre-conditioning functions from a computer or smartphone. Options include Mercedes’ Comand Online infotainment suite with in-car Web access, lane keeping assist, blind spot detection, and – a must in NYC – an active parking assist system.
Pricing and availability have yet to be disclosed by Mercedes-Benz at press time. We will update as this story develops.