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.