The words "electric vehicle" usually aren't synonymous with luxury. Mercedes-Benz is aiming to change that with the 2014 B-Class Electric Drive. No, this isn't a concept; the brand's first electric car will go on sale in early 2014 and have an estimated driving range of 115 miles.
The car might look a little familiar: A non-electric version of the B-Class has been on sale globally for years; model-year 2014 marks the first time it's being offered in the States. A conventionally powered version won’t be available in the U.S., however.
Powering the compact hatchback is a 28-kwh lithium-ion battery and 134-hp motor. Mercedes says acceleration will be lively, but quotes a zero-to-60 time of around 10 seconds; its top speed is 100 mph. Using a 240-volt household outlet, the B-Class can be charged to a 60-mile range in about two hours, according to Mercedes. A full charge should yield 115 miles.
The B-Class Electric Drive has room for five occupants; the battery is under the floor, and Mercedes says the B-Class retains the conventional version's amount of "generous" luggage and passenger space. Inside, the B-Class uses a familiar Mercedes air-vent layout: there are three large round vents with cross-form nozzles. Also prominently displayed in the cabin is a power display in the instrument panel. It uses a green-to-red gauge to show when power is being consumed.
Mercedes says vehicle information can also be accessed online using a computer or smartphone app. Owners can remotely check the charge status of the battery, confirm expected range and pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin.
Optional B-Class Electric Drive equipment includes the Comand multimedia system with internet access, navigation and voice control, and safety systems like blind spot warning, active park assist and lane keep assist.