Mercedes-Benz is preparing to launch a vastly upgraded version of the B-Class Electric Drive, a German magazine finds.
The current B-Class Electric Drive — Mercedes’ only regular-production EV — is equipped with a 28-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that gives it a total driving range of approximately 115 miles. Many of the components that make up its drivetrain were developed years ago with input from Tesla Motors.
Citing anonymous inside sources, Auto Bild reports that the upgraded model will offer a 310-mile range thanks to recent advances in battery technology. The motor will also be improved, though more specific technical details haven’t been announced yet.
Surprisingly, none of the components that will make up the upgraded model’s drivetrain will be sourced from Tesla. Mercedes parent company Daimler is pushing engineers to develop parts such as electric motors, on-board chargers and other EV-related electronics in-house. The move will allow Mercedes to benefit from economies of scale as it expands its all-electric lineup, saving it a sizable amount of money in the long term.
The exception to this rule arises with lithium-ion battery packs. For the time being, Mercedes will continue to buy packs from a third-party firm, though it has hinted it will quit using Tesla as a supplier.
If the report is accurate, it likely signals the end of the partnership between Tesla and Mercedes. Daimler signed an agreement with Tesla in May of 2009 and it bought a 9.1-percent stake in its new industrial partner shortly after. The German firm abruptly decided to divest all of its Tesla shares last October, though at the time executives stressed that the sale didn’t signal the end of Daimler’s cooperation with its California-based partner.
Neither Tesla nor Mercedes have issued an official response to the rumors. If they turn out to be true, expect to see the updated Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive make its public debut in the coming months.
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