Mercedes is the latest company to launch a mass-market electric car, with its new B-Class Electric Drive. The Electric Drive – Mercedes' first foray into mainstream electric cars – takes the medal as the electric car with the greatest claimed range for a relatively affordable price, being able to cover 142 miles per charge.
BMW's popular electric i3, in comparison, offers up a claimed range figure of just 118 miles per charge, while the Nissan Leaf weighs in with 124 miles and the Kia Soul EV 132 miles. Despite its impressive official range, the Electric Drive can still sprint to 62mph in a quick 7.9 seconds, thanks to its 178bhp electric motor.
Mercedes' new model features Tesla-developed technology and the company claims this B-Class is the fastest-accelerating five-seater electric car in its class with the greatest theoretical range per charge. An optional £945 'Energy Assist Package' works to maximise range by monitoring the road ahead, using radar to adapt the level of energy recuperation used by the car. The optional sat nav can also read the topography of the road ahead and adapt the car accordingly, while tinted windows and a heated windscreen reduce the amount of energy needed to control the cabin temperature.
Practicality has not been compromised in the transformation to electric power either, with the Electric Drive maintaining the standard B-Class's large 501-litre boot, which extends to 1,456 litres with the rear seats folded down. It also has space for five adults. The lithium-ion batteries, meanwhile, reside under the cabin. Charging times for the batteries vary from three to four hours at a public charging point to nine hours using a conventional domestic electricity supply.
Two trim levels will be available – Sport and Electric Art. The Sport model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a seven-inch media system, climate control, cruise control and a reversing camera. Electric Art models, on the other hand, will have 18-inch two-tone alloys, contrasting colour mirrors and radiator grille colours, along with aluminium trim and blue seat stitching.
First deliveries of this new electric Mercedes will take place in early 2015. Prices stand at £26,950 for Sport trim and £27,245 for the Electric Art (both prices include the £5,000 government's plug-in car grant).