The newest, smallest Mercedes-Benz not available to us Yankees -- the A-Class -- will soon be fitted with an electric drive system as part of a 500-unit test fleet.
The compact Mercedes EV is formally designated the A-Class E-Cell and will be leased to select customers in choice European nations, including France, Germany, and the Netherlands. At the heart of the A-Class E-Cell test fleet is an electric drive system with a continuous power rating of 68 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque, with up to 95 horsepower available depending on the driver's foot. The electric drive sends power to the front wheels and uses an intelligent charging management system to help with utilities billing (charging during off-peak hours) and climate control. The interior is pre-heated or cooled to a driver-set temperature during periods of recharging to lessen the vehicle's burden once removed from the power grid.
The A-Class stows two liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries beneath the passenger compartment, which Mercedes says offers 30-percent more energy and 50-percent more power density over the presently more accounting department-friendly nickel-metal-hydride architecture. The two stacks are rated a combined 36 kilowatt-hours, giving the A-Class E-Cell a range of over 124 miles according to preliminary estimates. In much of Europe, the standard 230-volt energy network affords the electric A-Class an eight-hour recharging period for a range of 62 miles, and presumably twice the time for 124 miles. Wall box and public charging points with 400-volt ratings shorten the charge to three hours for 62 miles.
The A-Class E-Cell will make an appearance at the upcoming Paris Motor Show.