With all the coverage of the New York Auto Show this week, one little car has been mostly ignored. In a sea of exciting new debuts, convincing Cadillacs and luscious Land Rovers, coverage of a small but exciting new electric has mostly fallen through the cracks.
People in the United States are not used to small cars from Mercedes-Benz. The smallest offering here has been the C-Class, but our roads are smothered in M-Class SUVs and large, powerful sedans. We have equated MB with big luxury, so smaller cars with a premium price here may be hard for buyers to accept. But with the new CLA-Class on the way, and the coming B-Class EV, things are about to get small.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class has never been sold in the United States. Not surprisingly, the little hatchback has seen success in Europe, but was deemed too small for the U.S. market. That’ll change come next year, when the B-Class Electric Drive becomes available here.
Mercedes has a powerful partner in this endeavor, too. CNN Money says,
Electric car maker Tesla Motors helped Mercedes develop and is manufacturing parts of the new car’s electric drive system, including the lithium ion battery pack, electric motors, on-board charger and other electronics. Besides producing its own car, the Tesla Model S sedan, Tesla already produces electric drive components for the battery-powered Toyota Rav4 EV.
The B-Class Electric Drive will accelerate to 60 in less than 10 seconds with motivation from a 134-hp electric motor powered by batteries that will gain 60 miles of range from a 2-hour charge, or 115 miles from a full 7-hour charge.
There’s no word on pricing just yet, but you can be sure the cost will be significant, and potentially alarming, for such a small vehicle. The gas-powered CLA-Class, meanwhile, will go on sale in September starting at around $30,000. The small sedan will get about 30 mpg and should find homes in the garages of plenty of young people wanting some brand panache for the price of a standard midsize.
What’s your choice: the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, or the gas-powered CLA-Class?