We’ve already seen a pre-production electric B-Class concept and a hydrogen fuel-cell B-Class concept. Now Mercedes is readying a plug-in electric hybrid based on the B-Class chassis, which will debut in a more complete form at the Frankfurt Auto Show in just a few weeks time.
Called the BlueZERO E-Cell Plus Concept this model can travel up to 100km (62 miles) on electric power before the gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the lithium-ion batteries, enabling an extended range of 500km (300 miles). The engine is a turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder powerplant producing 67hp.
The electric motor which actually powers the car makes 134hp and 236 ft-lbs of torque, enabling the plug-in hybrid to hit 62 mph in 11 seconds.
Impressively, the BlueZERO E-Cell Plus can be recharged for 50km trips in just 30 minutes using a special rapid charger. A full charge will take an hour or up to six hours with a conventional wall outlet.
First unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year, the BlueZERO E-Cell Plus Concept is expected to make its way to production in the near future.
GALLERY: BlueZERO E-Cell Plus Concept
Mercedes-Benz BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS: Piggy-backed for more range
Battery-powered electric drive plus range extender
The near-series Mercedes-Benz Concept BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS electric car combines environment-friendly electric mobility in the city with unrestricted suitability for long-distance driving. This is made possible by the combination of the battery-electric drive with a combustion engine. The range extender gives the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS a total range of up to 600 kilometres, with 100 kilometres thereof solely under electric power and thus free of local emissions.
The BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS is part of a family of modularly constructed electric cars, which will enable Mercedes-Benz to meet all customer requirements for sustainable mobility in the future. In this variant of the concept vehicle, the electric motor of the purely battery-powered BlueZERO E-CELL is combined with an additional three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine. Putting out 50 kW, the compact combustion engine is installed in the area of the rear axle and can charge the battery while the car is being driven. The CO2 bonus for the battery-electric driving mode reduces the vehicle’s emissions to only 32 grams of CO2 per kilometre. The range extender enables the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS to drive for up to 600 km, of which up to 100 km can be driven in electric mode with zero local emissions. The long combined range makes the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS fully suitable for everyday use and assures that the customer will reach his or her destination even with a depleted battery. After all, the car can be refuelled quickly and easily at any normal filling station.
Battery with superior lithium-ion technology
During rapid charging with a charging capacity of 20 kW, the high-performance, 18 kWh lithium-ion battery of the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS can store enough power within around 30 minutes for a 50 kilometre cruising range. The complete electric range of 100 kilometres requires a charging time of somewhat more than an hour. Charging time with a standard charge cycle at a conventional household outlet with 3,3 kW is approximately 6 hours. Special on-board electronics support the intelligent charging stations and billing systems used by electric fuelling stations. Advantages of lithium-ion batteries compared to other battery technologies include their compact dimensions, high output and energy density, high charge efficiency and long service life.
Concept BlueZERO – the triad of electric mobility
Mercedes-Benz is showing the way to environmentally compatible electric mobility with the near-series Concept BlueZERO. The vehicle’s intelligent modular concept enables a single vehicle architecture to be used to create three models with different drive system configurations.
The BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS is equipped with an electric drive and a supplemental combustion engine with an electrical generator (range extender). The car has a total range of up to 600 kilometres, of which up to 100 kilometres can be covered solely on electricity.
Originally presented in Detroit at the beginning of the year, the BlueZERO E?CELL is propelled exclusively by a battery-powered electric drive that allows the car to travel up to 200 kilometres on a single battery charge and completely free of local emissions.
The third drive version is the fuel cell powered BlueZERO F-CELL, with a range of about 400 km on electric power and therefore also without any local emissions.
All three BlueZERO models feature front-wheel drive, which is typical for this class of car. The drive components have been modularly organised by the Mercedes engineers and can be combined as needed. These include state-of-the-art liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries with up to 35 kWh capacity, and a compact electric motor with a maximum output of 100 kW (sustained output: 70 kW). The maximum torque of 320 Nm is available from the electric motor’s first revolution, and it surpasses the value attained by today’s V6 petrol engines at 2,500 rpm. Like its two sister models, the BlueZERO E-CELL and the BlueZERO F-CELL, the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in less than eleven seconds. To ensure optimum range and energy efficiency, the top speed is electronically limited to 150 km/h.
“The Concept BlueZERO offers a triple demonstration of the technical maturity of alternative drive systems from Mercedes-Benz. Electric vehicles with battery electric or fuel cell drive systems will not truly be on an equal footing with today’s combustion engine drive systems until the customers are confident that there is a sufficient infrastructure of electricity and hydrogen refuelling stations,” says Prof. Herbert Kohler, Head of E-Drive and Future Mobility and also Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler.
Concept BlueZERO: Modular architecture for flexibility and efficiency
The three BlueZERO variants were developed on the basis of the unique sandwich-floor architecture known from the A-Class and B-Class. The advantage of the enhanced design is that the key drive components are installed in the vehicle’s underbody in such a way that they take up little space, ensure a good centre of gravity, and are maximally protected. The BlueZERO models therefore differ considerably from conventionally designed electric cars, which have heavy and voluminous storage batteries installed in the boot, for example, or in the area of the backseat. All three BlueZERO variants share key technological components and have identical designs and vehicle dimensions. Even though they have compact exterior dimensions, the 4.22-meter-long BlueZERO models have a spacious and versatile interior and cargo space. The vehicles’ five full-size seats, approximately 450 kilograms of payload, and more than 500 litres of cargo capacity make them suitable family cars.
“Our modular system permits different drive configurations for each customer requirement,” says Dr. Thomas Weber, the Daimler Board of Management Member responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “The improved sandwich floor platform serves as the perfect basis for a diverse range of vehicles with electric drives. We are currently developing an additional platform for future compact models that have drive systems using optimized internal combustion engines. The smart linking of both architectures will allow us to expand our product range in an extremely flexible and efficient manner. Beginning in 2009, we will manufacture the first small batch of Mercedes fuel cell cars. In 2010, they will be followed by a small batch of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that run solely on electric power supplied by a battery. Thanks to these measures, we are excellently positioned for the future.”
Electric powered vehicles are fun to drive
Mercedes-Benz vehicles will continue to combine environmental awareness and driving fun in future. One way in which the Mercedes-Benz designers have emphasised this aspiration is by introducing paint finishes in three new ALU-BEAM colours. Each of the three variants makes its individual mark: Confident ALU-BEAM Copper was chosen for the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS. The BlueZERO E-CELL is painted a fresh ALU-BEAM yellow; the BlueZERO F-CELL appears in ALU-BEAM green.
Mercedes-Benz feels it won’t be just one technology that paves the way to sustainable mobility in the future, however. Instead the company is responding with solutions that are every bit as varied as the demands. The individual technologies are being used in specific applications where they can provide the greatest advantage with respect to optimal consumption and emission values. Mercedes-Benz views the development of electric cars with battery and fuel cell drives for local zero-emission driving as a means of supplementing the extremely clean and economical BlueEFFICIENCY and hybrid vehicles already available today. However, the unrestricted and convenient operation of electric cars still faces a series of challenges, including high system costs, insufficient infrastructure and short cruising ranges. Advanced diesel and petrol engines will remain the driving force for automobiles for a long time to come – not only for individual mobility in passenger cars (especially over long distances), but, more importantly, for freight transport in trucks. Despite all the progress that Mercedes-Benz has once again so emphatically documented with the Concept BlueZERO, electric cars will not be replacing vehicles with combustion engines any time soon. The electrification of modern, high-tech engines will, however, play an increasingly important role in the drive system mix of the future.