Mercedes starts production of electric B class

An electric Mercedes-Benz B class on the assembly line in Rastatt, Germany.
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FRANKFURT -- Daimler's Mercedes-Benz has started series production of an electric version of its B-class minivan.

The B-class Electric Drive will go on sale in the United States this summer followed by Europe later in the year. It will join the Smart ForTwo EV as Daimler's second battery powered vehicle.

The B-class EV will have a driving range of around 200kms (124 miles) before the battery needs to be recharged. The car will accelerate to 100kph (62mph) in 7.9 seconds and have a top speed of 160kph (100 mph).

The model has been developed in partnership with U.S. EV maker Tesla. A Tesla-built, front-mounted electric motor powers the car. The motor produces 174 hp — 8 hp more than the BMW i3.

Tesla's 28.0-kWh lithium-ion battery provides power to the electric motor. It is mounted low in the floor between the front and rear seats. A step in the cabin floor accommodates the battery but barely impedes on space.

Mercedes has yet to release prices for the electric B class. In comments to Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche, a company spokeswoman said Daimler expected “five-figure production” of the electric B class during its life cycle.

The electric B-class is built on the same production line as gasoline, diesel and natural-gas B-classe models in Rastatt, Germany.

Reuters, AutoWeek and Automobilwoche contributed to this report

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