Mercedes-Benz presents the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS electric car

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2009

Mercedes-Benz is all set to embrace the electric car trend with its unveiling of the BlueZero E-cell Plus concept at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. The third in a series of BlueZero concept cars, the Plus rides on a modified version of the existing A-class platform. The Plus features a range-extender petrol/electric powertrain like the Vauxhall Ampera's.

As in the first BlueZero E-cell concept shown in Detroit in January, the Plus uses the A-class' sandwich floor to house an 18kWh lithium ion battery pack. In addition, the Plus has a 50kW (67bhp) petrol engine.

Taking Smart's cue, the three-cylinder unit is also rear-mounted in the E-cell Plus. It is mated to a generator to provide energy for an electric motor, the sole drive for the front wheels.

The electric motor, which produces 70kW (94bhp) and 236lb ft, pushes the E-cell Plus to 62mph in under 11sec and on to a top speed of 93mph.

The 4200mm-long five-door hatch -- whose styling provides clues to the appearance of the next B-class (due in 2012) -- is claimed to have a range on a single charge of 62 miles, which extends to 373 miles on a single tank of fuel when the range extender starts operating.

Another feature that we love about it is that the batteries take less than 30 minutes to recharge.

The Blue Zero will keep Mercedes' patented flat-floor sandwich body architecture in production, but the next A-class and B-class models will make a dramatic switch to a more conventional and cheaper-to-make platform that eschews a flat floor for conventional footwells. The Plus will go into limited production next year.

Press Release

Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept

The near-series Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept 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 Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept a total range of up to 600 kilometres, with 100 kilometres thereof solely under electric power and thus free of local emissions.

The Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept 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 Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept 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 Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept 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.

BlueZero Concept - the triad of electric mobility

Mercedes-Benz is showing the way to environmentally compatible electric mobility with the near-series Mercedes-Benz BlueZero Concept. The vehicle's intelligent modular concept enables a single vehicle architecture to be used to create three models with different drive system configurations.

The Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept 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 BlueZero Concept 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.

BlueZero Concept: 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 Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus Concept. 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 BlueZero Concept, 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.

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