By Keith Buglewicz
Electric cars are becoming more mainstream, and the best evidence is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive hatchback. Conventional in appearance, electric range and charging time, this first electric car from the German manufacturer nonetheless distinguishes itself with its uniquely Mercedes driving experience. It also offers up comfortable seating (especially for the front occupants), cargo space that's uncompromised by the underfloor battery pack, and some unique twists on "regenerative" braking – using the energy produced under braking to charge the battery pack. Using a drivetrain supplied by electric-car leader Tesla, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive doesn't break a lot of new technological ground. Yet it refines and matures the genre with a premium feel, handsome but not eye-catching style, and a surprisingly reasonable price.
If you want an electric vehicle from a luxury manufacturer, but aren't looking for outrageous styling, then the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is just the ticket. The hatchback's $41,500 entry-level price is also low enough to attract EV buyers who just want more cargo space in their environmentally friendly ride.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is an all-new model for Mercedes. While the B-Class is old hat in Europe – and sold with a variety of powertrains – the 5-door hatchback is new for the U.S., destined to be the company's electric vehicle for the U.S.
Driving Impressions The 2014 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is utterly conventional in the way it goes about its business. Rather than wow you with a whole new way of driving a car,...... the B-Class simply gets the job done, always with a premium feel and very good control of things like wind and road noise. The firm suspension and good steering aren't exactly sporty, but they do make the B-Class more athletic. As for the drivetrain, the electric motor moves this car better than you might expect. After an initial rush of torque, the B-Class electric settles into the same steady accelerative pull you get in a jet airliner taking off. Of course, foot-to-the-floor starts will discharge that battery quicker than you can say, "Where's a charging station?"
RADAR-BASED RECUPERATION SYSTEM
Electric cars use regenerative braking to recharge the batteries as the car slows and coasts. The 2014 B-Class electric offers a system that lets the driver choose the regenerative braking's aggressiveness. Most interesting is an adaptive mode that uses radar to slow the vehicle depending on traffic and road conditions.
Using the Mercedes-Benz mbrace app, B-Class electric owners can monitor and control a variety of functions from their smartphones. Our favorite is programming the climate control system to cool or warm the car while it's still plugged in, saving the batteries for driving, rather than getting the temperature just so.
The new Mercedes B-Class interior is high quality, with the dash top and doors covered in soft-touch materials, and hard plastic on the lower parts and center console. An iPad-like screen juts out from the top of the dash, above three air vents and the rest of the audio and climate controls. The front seats are roomy, but the high floor in the rear limits passenger legroom. There's plenty of cargo space though.Exterior
While handsome, there's not a lot of visual pizazz to the 2014 B-Class electric's styling. The tall 5-door hatchback shape is shared by a number of other vehicles, although the 3-pointed star on the nose classes things up on its own. We also like the LED accents on the headlights, which emphasize the kinship this car has with other Mercedes vehicles like the S-Class. Callouts to the car's electric nature are subtle, with just a few "Electric Drive" badges here and there, plus a blue-tinted grille.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive comes well equipped for a reasonably priced electric car. In addition to cruise control, aluminum-alloy wheels and automatic climate control, the car wants to assist you with just about everything. Collision Prevention Assist warns if you're about to rear-end another car, while Active Parking Assist helps find a big enough parallel parking spot. Attention Assist determines if the driver is getting drowsy, and advises to take a break from driving with a dashboard warning. Safety equipment includes front, side and side-curtain airbags, and a knee airbag for the driver to prevent lower-limb injuries.
In addition to the radar-based regenerative-braking system, the 2014 B-Class electric offers up several other high-tech options. A range extension package allows drivers to add up to 18 miles to the B-Class electric's range, although it could affect the battery life in the long run. Blind-spot monitoring warns if you are about to change lanes into another car, and lane-keeping assist helps nudge you back into the correct lane. Parktronic with Advanced Parking Assist helps drivers find and park in a parallel parking spot. The COMAND multimedia system with its 7-inch dash-mounted screen is also optional.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive comes with one powertrain option only: A 177-horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels. Supplied by the electric vehicle pioneers at Tesla, the motor accelerates the B-Class electric to 60 mph from a standstill in just under eight seconds, according to Mercedes. The 28-kWh lithium-ion battery provides up to 85 miles of driving range, and can be recharged to 60 miles of range in about 2 hours using a Level 2 (40-amp) charger. A full recharge takes 3.5 hours on the same charger.
AC electric motor with 28kWh lithium-ion battery pack
132 kW/177 horsepower
251 lb-ft of torque
Range with full charge (estimated): 85 miles
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive will have a base price of around $42,400 when it goes on sale this summer. However, prices for individual options have not been announced, so we can't tell you how much a fully loaded model will go for. The good news is that price is before the $7,500 federal incentive and any local or state incentives, meaning you could get into a fully electric Mercedes for about the same price as a loaded Toyota Camry. That's still not cheap, but it's not too bad for a Mercedes-Benz that qualifies for carpool-lane access – a feature worth its weight in gold in congested cities like Los Angeles. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.
By HarleyMYK on Monday, February 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great lease deal. Super smooth and quiet."
Cons: "Limited range may not work for you."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We have had our B-Class Electric Vehicle for six weeks and it has become one of our favorite cars ever. Everyone who sees our B-Class EV notes the luxury appointments. When you first open either front door, you are greeted with the words “Mercedes Benz” lit up in the door sills. There are zone climate settings for the left and the right and a separate vent for the back passengers. My car has the optional burl walnut dash that adds to the opulent appearance. The car has a built in cell connection (paid for by Mercedes) that, amongst other things, connects to a cool B-Class web app (for iOS, Android, and Chrome on the PC) that allows you to remotely use you smart phone or computer to see the charging state, observe how economical your driving has been, and control the pre-conditioning of the interior temperature by running the heat or A/C before you get in. Both the driver and the shotgun passenger enjoy power seats, each with three memory presets, plus the driver side seat memory includes presets for the outside mirrors. I need a lumbar support and both of the front seats have one that is adjustable in 4 directions that is great for me. My wife and I both think these seats feel terrific and we have very different settings and taste when it comes to car seats. Even the back seats are so comfortable that they would be good for a longer trip than the battery will deliver. It comes standard with rain detecting windshield wipers and several other state-of-the-art technology features, like a buzzer that goes off if it thinks you are getting drowsy. The B-Class Electric has a good amount of power, which is especially impressive at lower speeds. It is very quiet, velvet smooth, and handles just fine on the winding canyon roads that I frequently drive. It is quite small on the outside and a breeze to park in tight spaces. It has plenty of room in the back seat for at least two adults, unlike the BMW i3. While the back seats do not fold totally flat, there is enough room with the back seats folded down for me to toss my bike in without taking off the front tire. The backup camera is the first one I have tried that I can be totally dependent on when backing up – I now don’t even use the mirrors for driving in reverse, except for parallel parking. I have the extended range charging, which I understand will be standard on all the B-Class EVs in 2015. I also have the regeneration paddles and usually sift the car to full regeneration (D-) so it regenerates like the Tesla. The heat and AC will significantly impact the range and that needs to be figured in, especially if you have cold winters. I live in Southern California and if I do not use the heat or A/C and drive very gently, I can get close to 100 miles on the extended range charge -- maybe more. The 70-100 mile range works well for me because I rarely drive more than 60 miles in a day. If I need to go over the range limit (or even close), my wife and daughter both have conventional cars and rarely go even 40 miles a day, so we trade for the day and I use one of their cars. My wife LOVES the B-Class and is more than happy to swap her car with me. Because of the range limitations (and anxiety), for most people, I would say DO NOT BUY THIS CAR IF IT WILL BE YOUR ONLY VEHICLE! The car comes with a slow portable charging station that can plug into a normal dedicated outlet and has a maximum of 1,200 watts (about 3 miles of range per hour). That may be all you need if you drive less than 45 miles per day or have access to a level 2 charging station at work. If you don’t have a charging station at work, drive more, plan to take advantage of Time of Use (TOU) rates, or want to come home and get an extra 20 miles during the lunch hour, you will probably want to get at least a 7,200 watt (30 amp / 240 volt) station. The car has the capacity for 10,000 watts, so you can even get a 40 amp station. You may also need an electrician to bring the high voltage and high amperage service to the area where you park the car. You should definitely add in the cost of installing a charging station and your cost for electricity if you are trying to see if the car makes economic sense for you. I think the deal I got was fantastic. The dealer had a car with the options I wanted and a sticker that was over $48,000. I chose to add to that the optional discounted pre-paid maintenance. The dealer took more than $9,000 off the sticker PLUS they provided the full federal tax credit of $7,500 as capital reduction on the lease. On the down side, there were a number of Mercedes and leasing fees, but I think that is pretty standard and did not compare to the total of the discount and federal credits. With tax, registration, and maintenance my monthly is $328 and drive off was $2305 (including first payment) for a 36 month lease. If I had known there was a discount for automatic payments, I would have elected to have them and have saved a little bit more. Other B-Class lesees have reported similar or even better deals. I have filed for the California rebate of $2,500 which is expected to take 90 days. I also had a $500 off e-mail coupon from Mercedes from visiting them at a car show. The checks I am expecting from California and Mercedes will more than reimburse me for my drive off as well as the second and third payments. When I total the discounts, credits, and rebates I ended up with just over 40% off the MSRP. Some minor negatives: - I wish that the car would remember the regeneration and eco/sport modes that you picked last time instead of resetting them to the default each time you turn on the car. - I miss having keyless entry and push button start – not available on the 2014s, but I understand that it will be on the 2015 models. - There is no setting on the car or the app to delay or set the charging time (hopefully this will change in a software upgrade). - No DC super charger connection. The label on the door for the connector indicates 400 V capabilities, but it is missing the needed sockets. - Not as energy efficient as some competitors. You can do a web search for the B-Class user forum and user Facebook page, both of which can provide you with a lot more information. The biggest topic is the range, especially for people who live in cold winters. For me, range is not a big issue, so this is an excellent car with a fantastic lease."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful