In the US, Mercedes-Benz is preparing to enter segments that rivals are dominating. It will launch a new range of small luxury vehicles. In 2011, the carmaker will debut an all-new C-class coupe. This will then be followed by three derivatives of the front-wheel-drive B class in 2012 and 2013. Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said that at this point, "Everyone wants to be Mercedes-Benz.” Mercedes also has plans to produce vehicles for the B-class range -- coupe, crossover and sedan versions that will arrive in the US in 2012-2013. These will be the fwd cars that Mercedes will be offering in the US. In the Europe, the first-generation B class is boxy but in the US, the styling has been tweaked to make them more viable for the market.
Spy shots show that its design is similar to the BlueZero concept car introduced at the 2009 Detroit auto show. Lieb said that the B-class name may not be given to all the vehicles. It’s likely that the B-class range will be powered by four-cylinder engines, which none of its vehicles in the US currently use. Its partnership with Renault-Nissan will create three- and four-cylinder engines with turbos and gasoline direct injection for this new vehicle lineup. When it comes to the F-cell, Mercedes-Benz will be producing an electric fuel cell version of the current B class sold in Europe. This will arrive in the US sometime in the fourth quarter. The company will test the F-cell by placing it in a leasing program in California. Mercedes-Benz chose this state due to the availability of recharging stations in the state. When lumped together, Mercedes said it will test 100 of the 240-mile-range electric vehicles in the US. [via AutoWeek]