Mercedes-Benz has decided to use Tesla-sourced technology for its first mainstream electric car, in a bid to lower costs and development time as it chases BMW’s i3 model.
The German automaker has recently sold its shares in the California-based electric automaker Tesla but its technical cooperation would remain unchanged. That means Tesla provides electric motors and the battery technology for the new B-Class Electric Drive. It’s a fully electric car that is closely mirroring the traditional B-Class – save for the small decals and the blue trim on the mirrors and front grille.
It’s decidedly a different approach to what BMW did with its “i” eco-conscious brand and especially to the i3 city car. Both models are electrically driven, but BMW opted in developing the model from the ground up, wrapping it in expensive carbon fiber in the process. Mercedes’ decision to team up with Tesla could also transfer some of the hype that surrounds the US luxury automaker, but it’s also a safe guard against spending billions of dollars on a technology that few might actually want.
According to Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, the “B-Class electric is a low-cost and low-risk solution for Daimler,” and because it’s built on the same assembly line as the petrol and diesel variants it’s easy to cover its costs.