Frankfurt: Mercedes BlueZero E-Cell Plus

* Electric city car * Range extender engine * Production starts in 2010...

Frankfurt: Mercedes BlueZero E-Cell Plus

What is it?
The Mercedes-Benz BlueZero E-Cell Plus is an electrically-powered city car with a small petrol engine to help it go the distance.

Whats new?
This concept has been developed from the E-Cell prototype seen at the Detroit Motor Show back in January. Its now nearer production and has gained a range extender 1.0-litre, 67bhp petrol engine, borrowed from the Smart Fortwo.

How does it work?
The E-Cell Plus is based on a modified version of the current A-Class underpinnings and its sandwich floor provides a good base for the motor, drivetrain and batteries. The A-Classs five-seat layout and luggage space are retained, because all the bulky components are located in the underbody.

The front-wheel drive E-Cell Plus is powered by its 134bhp electric motor most of the time and has a range of 62 miles between recharges. The tiny turbocharged petrol engine, located near the rear axle, charges the battery on the move, to boost the cars range to up to 370 miles. It can completely recharge the lithium-ion battery in just over an hour, or give a 30-mile range in about 30 minutes. When the engine is running, it emits only 32g/km of carbon dioxide. The E-Cell Plus will even accelerate 0-62mph in a very respectable 11 seconds.

When does it go on sale?
Mercedes is planning a limited production run next year, and the E-Cell Plus is just one of a family of BlueZero concepts on their way to showrooms. Its modular structure can accommodate three different types of drivetrain. Besides the E-Cells range-extended system it can support a fully electric powertrain, as in the E-Cell concept seen in Detroit, or the F-Cells fuel cell drivetrain.

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