16 December 2008

Three-way switch

Merc to show off three battery-based small cars in Detroit

Mercedes Concept BlueZERO

Ever keen to offer top value in these times of financial stricture, Mercedes has shown off three small concepts for the price of one. 

They’re called the BlueZero trio, and demonstrate three different drivetrain configurations based on the same platform.

Or an electric, hybrid and fuel cell versions of an ugly-faced A-Class, if you prefer.

First up, there’s the BlueZero E-Cell, which gets a fast-charging lithium-ion battery that’ll manage 120 miles between charges.

Then we have the E-Cell Plus, a range extending hybrid which uses a small combustion engine to power an electric motor to a range of some 370 miles – or 60 miles on electric charge alone.

Last up there’s the F-Cell, based around a fuel cell – a hydrogen stack similar to that in the Honda FCX Clarity, we assume – which provides enough electric power to take the little BlueZero nearly 250 miles, with no emissions.

None of them will be quick, exactly. Each BlueZero will manage a top speed of 93mph, and will accelerate to 62mph in ‘under 11 seconds’.

At least the lithium ion batteries should be quick-chargin’, though – Merc reckons you should get a 30 mile all-electric range off a half-hour charge.

And here’s the most interesting bit: all three BlueZeros are set to go into ‘limited production’ next year. That’s not such a surprise with the hybrid, but a fuel cell and an all-electric car by the end of 2009? That’d be going some…  

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