Bye-Bye Baby B: Mercedes Spikes Its Electric Subcompact, Eyes More Mainstream EVs ""
Posted on: August 7, 2017

B-Class Electric Drive

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that the B-class Electric Drive—badged B250e—won’t be offered after the 2017 model year. The B250e is Mercedes-Benz’s only all-electric vehicle, yet the news of its demise isn’t entirely surprising. It was conceived from the start with an unusual pedigree and a limited shelf life while Mercedes-Benz used it to test some ideas (and meet its California ZEV-mandate requirements) on the way to a next electric step.

One of those next steps—in addition to more plug-in hybrids—is Mercedes’s upcoming all-electric EQ sub-brand. We expect the first EQ model to be about the size and form factor of the GLC crossover with a range of up to 310 miles, and it will go into production at Bremen, Germany, in 2019. Meanwhile, the Rastatt plant that assembles the B-class (as well as the A-class and GLA-class) will be reconfigured for a new generation of compact vehicles; it’s still unclear which of those vehicles will be offered in the United States.

The European B-class includes internal-combustion variants but the electric B250e has been the only way to get a B-class in the States. It’s been on sale since late in the 2014 model year, and although its badging last year changed for 2016 as part of Mercedes-Benz’s revamped nomenclature, the vehicle itself has changed little. We’ve found that the B-Class Electric Drive excels in passenger accommodation, handles well, and offers great outward visibility. Performance from its 177-hp motor isn’t particularly sprightly, it lacks a fast-charging port, and its relatively short, 87-mile range from a 28.0-kWh battery pack finds it trailing the pack among today’s EVs.


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B-Class Electric Drive

Powered by Tesla, Albeit Far from Ludicrous

Ironically, most of the B250e’s powertrain is produced (and was co-developed) by Tesla, which is known for long driving range and acceleration times. Tesla supplies not just the battery pack—filled with cylindrical cells that are not unlike those in the irresistible video below—but the entire B-class electric-drive system. It sends those components from California to Germany—and then, in many cases, the completed car is shipped to California dealerships.

Mercedes-Benz is forging ahead with plans to make electric vehicles a quarter of its global sales by 2025. This spring the company announced that it has broken ground to expand an existing facility in Kamenz, Germany, into its own version of Tesla’s Gigafactory—a massive five-hundred-million-euro global battery production compound, with a footprint of nearly 50 acres and 860,000 square feet of space. With that many batteries in the pipeline, and interest in the Tesla Model 3 seen as a turning point, count on future plug-in models to be aimed for wider mass appeal as the B250e fades into the sunset.

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