Back in February, a deal between Mercedes-Benz and electric car startup, Tesla, was announced that would see a new electric vehicle added to the Mercedes line-up, and now we know that new model will be an all-electric version of the subcompact Mercedes-Benz B-Class. According to a report in Automotive News, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV would be available in the United States starting in 2014 and that plans for a production version of the range-extended 2011 B-Class E-Cell Plus Concept (shown here) have been put on hold for now.
The article says that the decision to go with an electric vehicle rather than a range-extended hybrid was better incentives and "favorable classifications." This latter reason could very well stem from the confusion that has surrounded the Chevrolet Volt since its launch in 2010 where it is erroneously referred to as a plug-in hybrid rather than an electric vehicle. Mercedes-Benz will supply the vehicle and platform for the B-Class EV, and Tesla will develop and supply the battery systems, the electric motors and other electrical components of the vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz has been selling its B-Class globally since 2005, but the second-generation of this compact MPV (somewhere between a small minivan and a compact crossover) will eventually be offered in the U.S.
The parent company of Mercedes-Benz, Daimler AG, holds a 4.7 percent share of Tesla, but this won't be the first time the two companies have worked together on a vehicle. The second-generation Smart fortwo Electric Drive used Tesla battery packs, but the next-generation version of the Smart fortwo electric drive (due out this fall) will be produced by Daimler.
In addition to the new B-Class EV, Mercedes-Benz will be adding three other models to its U.S. portfolio including the A-Class, a sub-CLS four-door coupe called the CLA-Class and a new crossover possibly called the GLA-Class. All of these vehicles - plus a few others - were teased in a recent picture released by Mercedes-Benz celebrating 45 years of its in-house tuner, AMG.