Mercedes recently announced pricing for its first production-level all-electric car. The five-seat small luxury sedan, the B-Class Electric Drive, will go on sale this summer in the United States, with a starting price of $41,450—nearly an identical price to its primary competitor, the BMW i3.
Together, the two cars represent the new wave of luxury electric vehicles available in the U.S.—a market that has thus far been limited to the more expensive Tesla Model S. As it happens, Tesla supplies the drivetrain and battery pack for the B-Class Electric Drive, which follows Tesla’s preference for sandwiching the battery pack between the floor of the car and the passenger space above. The electric model is based on the conventional Mercedes B-Class, available in Europe and Canada, but coming to the United States for the first time.
The space configuration is one of the main distinctions between the B-Class and the BMW i3, which seats just four. Another key difference is the i3’s optional range-extender, which allows that car to run on gas after its battery range is depleted. The B-Class doesn’t offer the feature—which costs $4,000 extra on the i3.
Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive offers a range of 85 miles and can charge completely in about 3.5 hours on a 240-volt charger.
Both the B-Class and the i3 are way ahead of the pack of other small EVs in terms of performance. The B-Class nets 177 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, while the i3 maxes out at 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the Nissan LEAF is capable of just 107 horsepower. The superb handling characteristics of the B-Class, and its interior fit and finish, are what you would expect from a Mercedes vehicle.
Mercedes will sell the B-Class electric in eight states to start: California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Sales in those states begin this summer, followed by the rest of the country sometime next year.
Thanks to the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs, the B-Class can be had for $33,950—with residents of California and Marylandeligible for additional state credits of $2,500 and $2,000, respectively. The B-Class also earns carpool lane access in California and New Jersey (which exempts EV buyers from paying sales tax on the purchase).
Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy ebay Green Driving.