One of the so-called attractions at the Detroit Auto Show was the new electric concept from Mercedes-Benz: BlueZero. The concept will serve as basis for the next generation B-Klasse and in my opinion, is aimed directly at the Mini E which was launched at the L.A Auto Show.
While not as good looking as the Mini E, the Mercedes-Benz BlueZero Concept brings something new to the table: the options of choosing your powertrain based on your driving range. The standard BlueZero E-Cell uses a 35 kW liquid-cooled li-io battery pack providing 120 miles of driving, while for those of you that have a longer commute, the F-Cell version, powered by a 90kW hydrogen fuel cell, will provide a 240 mile range.
The top model is the E-Cell Plus with a driving range of 360 miles due to the 67 hp three-cylinder engine from the Smart ForTwo.
Worried about recharging times? Mercedes says 30-minute recharge for 50 miles of driving.
The Mini E comes in one flavor which offers 156 mile range before you need to recharge it.
The MB BlueZero concept is offered with front-wheel drive train and it's 14 feet long. Five passengers can fit in comfortably and offers more than 17 cubic feet of luggage. The Mini Electric is about 12 feet long and it offer only 2.1 cubic feet of luggage space. Advantage BlueZero.
Mercedes also announced that it will begin low-volume series production of the fuel cell B-Class later this year and follow that with low volume series production of a battery electric vehicle in 2010. But, selected people will be able to get their hands on a BlueZero Concept this year, similar to what BMW has done with the Mini E one-year leases.
Design wise, the Mercedes-Benz BlueZero Concept has an interesting shape, a bit weird I might add and obviously, when compared to the Mini E looks, it doesn't rank so high on a design scale. But the fact that it offers a 5 seater interior rather than the two available in the Mini Electric and an impressive cargo space, it could make the BlueZero Concept a better buy.
Would I choose this car over the Mini E? Hmmm, tough choice, I haven't driven the BlueZero yet, but the 5 seater interior is quite appealing. Now, if I would care about the car's looks, then probably not, I would rather stick with the Mini.