Shown at the New York Auto Show over a year ago, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive will go on sale here this summer with pricing to start at $42,375. That base price for the U.S.-spec version of M-B's ultra-clean compact crossover is before any applicable federal, state or local tax credits/incentives. That puts the 2014 B-Class ED within $100 of its closest would-be rival, the new BMW i3. Based on the conventional B-Class MPV, which is part of the automaker's European lineup, this EV matches spritely performance with room for five while offering the kind of upscale features you'd expect to find in any Mercedes. 

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Advanced Telematics

Inside its roomy, well-finished cabin, the new B-Class Electric Drive sports premium trim along with a full range of power assists and distinctive EV-specific instrumentation. A Becker audio/Map Pilot navigation system with a 5.8-inch color display is standard but Mercedes will offer its COMAND multimedia system that includes internet access, navigation and voice control as an option. Springing for that upgrade also will permit the driver to remotely interact with the car using a smartphone or tablet to do everything from pre-heat or cool the interior to check on routing, remaining range and the location of the nearest charging station. When cargo takes priority over people, the 60/40 split rear bench in the B-Class Electric drive can be folded near flat, upping stow space from 17.7 to 51.4 cu-ft.

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Tesla Technology

As with the smart fortwo ED, Mercedes called on its Tesla Motors partner to provide the advanced powertrain used in the B-Class Electric Drive. The motor develops 177 horses and 251 lb-ft of torque, up over the 134/228 stats quoted at its New York debut. M-B says that twist figure is on par with the torque of a typical 3.0-liter gasoline engine and is sufficient to send this new B-Class from 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 100 mph. 

A 28kWh lithium-ion battery pack housed in the reinforced "Energy Space" beneath the floor of this zero-emission B-Class holds enough juice to earn it an official 85-mile range rating from the EPA -- although Mercedes indicates that number could be as high as triple-digit territory depending on operating conditions. The pack can be replenished using a standard wall outlet, but the preferred method is via a dedicated 240V charger that will do a full recharge in 3.5 hours or add 60 extra miles in less than two. Like its peers, the electric B-Class also can recharge on the fly during coastdown and braking. 

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Multiple Safety Systems

In keeping with Mercedes-Benz tradition, the new B-Class Electric Drive places a priority on active and passive safety. The long list of standard equipment includes radar-based Collision Prevention Assist with Adaptive Brake Assist while Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Active Parking Assist will be available as options. 

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