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MB B-Class will start at $41K

MB B-Class will start at $41K

Things are getting interesting....

http://insideevs.com/breaking-mercedes-benz-b-class-electric-drive-price...
http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/future/model/model-B_Class_Electric_Drive#...|0|0

Considering it has a 28kWh Tesla battery pack, I wonder if it is SuperCharger capable?

O

tes-s | April 28, 2014

Supercharging would do no good. Most it could take would be 40kw when empty. They only put in a 10kW charger - which is a full charge in 3 hours or so.

Great commuter or extra car. They will compete with Leaf and i3 for that market segment.

I start thinking about where the next charger is when I get down to 85 miles range - hard to imagine starting out with that.

DieAbetic | April 28, 2014

EPA 85 miles for $41K? Which really means ~60 miles unless you are maxing out the battery? Yikes.

LEvans | April 28, 2014

Apparently Mercedes does not want to build a no compromise electric car. Both this and the i3 are compromised in range and speed but why? Technology exists to build a no compromise EV like the Model S but the Germans are refusing to build one.

Baribrotzer | April 28, 2014

@ WEB_SRFR:

Because of the dealers. They're the tail that wags the dog.

Remember: Automakers' real customers aren't the public - they're the auto dealers, who then resell to the public. If the dealers don't want something and won't stock it, it won't get built, even if the public have shown a demand. And auto dealers don't want electric cars, because a well-made one has very few problems and requires very little maintenance, and most of their profit comes from maintaining IC autos.

omarsultan.ca.us | April 28, 2014

I think its interesting because we are starting to see BEVs filling in the gap between the 60kWh Model S and the Leaf.

As the Inside EV article points out, the B-Class is the same price point as the i3. I think the more traditional look and the interior appointments will give the MB broader appeal than the i3. I think the activity in this space will give Tesla some good data points in terms of how to price and option the Model E, since it will likely end in the same price segment.

O

jordanrichard | April 28, 2014

Baribrotzer is spot on. Nissan makes the Leaf and they could easily make an Altima size car, but the dealers won't buy it. Dealers never make money on the entry level/"economy" cars. So they are ok with EVs being stuck in that segment. Dealers have absolutely nothing to gain from selling mid size EVs. They only stand to lose revenue.

NomoDinos | April 28, 2014

Baribrotzer - "Automakers' real customers aren't the public - they're the auto dealers, who then resell to the public."

I never thought of it that way, but it makes total sense. Sad, really. I guess Tesla will have to take over the world after all.

jordanrichard | April 28, 2014

NoModinos, and that is exactly what the traditional dealers are afraid of and why GM is watching Tesla very closely. The NADA doesn't give two bits about Tesla selling it's cars. They are really concerned about the traditional car companies getting ideas on how to take them out of the loop. If GM, Ford, etc can figure a way to cut the dealers out of the loop and be able to reduce their prices, they will do it.

Red Sage ca us | April 28, 2014

Here the thing is... Considering the billions of ICE vehicles that are already on the road... Can't the service departments at dealerships just keep working on those for another twenty or thirty years, and just offer a decent relatively bulletproof electric car series from now on?

Sure they can. But... They see it as 'cutting into profits' anyway. That's because they want to still be servicing the new cars they sell today, when they become the old cars of tomorrow.

I wonder if the new Mercedes has a swappable design for its battery pack... If a higher capacity battery, with the same form factor, could be installed later, would they offer it? Because from my point of view, though it is cool that a plugin car will have enough charge to last for my daily activities, it would be even better if I only had to plug it in once a week for an overnight charge.

Brian H | April 28, 2014

The Press Release also emphasizes a few extras like Braking Assist, etc., that TM does not have.

Mathew98 | April 29, 2014

The B class will spell trouble for Volt and i3. For the same price point, the MB make more sense for local daily commute < 75 miles. It is about $35K after federal credit so it will be competitive to the ICE counterparts as well.

Gen3Joe | April 29, 2014

The legacy automakers seemed determined not to offer an EV with over 100 mile range.

If they don't get their act together they'll be going the way of the blackberry in 10 years or so.

Roamer@AZ USA | April 29, 2014

I think selling these grocery getters hurts EV adoption. People buy one then tell all their friends how limiting it is and that they still need to own a gas car.

hsadler | April 29, 2014

Interesting as a second car to the MS (until the E becomes available).

Expected better design from Mercedes (interior looks like afterthought - gauges, GPS, aesthetics).

Will compete with the BMW, but probably disappear when the E comes out.

Couldn't find charging requirements.

Should be interesting to hear the dealer's sales pitch.

buddyroe | April 29, 2014

Gen3Joe - do you think that is an accident? They need to meet the gas mileage requirements, which is the only reason they even make these cars. They sure don't want them to become popular.

If no one buys them, they can just continue making few thousand every year and keep on making their money on ICE cars - which they're completely tooled up to make, and the dealers want to sell (for the service aspect).

NomoDinos | April 29, 2014

jordanrichard - very true. What a sad, strange state of affairs. I was so excited that MB was coming out with a serious contender.

Mathew98 | April 29, 2014

Did you all missed the "powered by Tesla" bit of the B class?

Not a chance that it'll have the SC option. It'll be halfway toward an SC and run out of juice...

omarsultan.ca.us | April 29, 2014

I am wondering if the first casualty won't be Cadillac. I think we Tesla owners obsess a bit much about range--last year 22K+ LEAF buyers were just fine with its range. The B-Series now gives folks in that "range demographic" an upscale option with mainstream looks and a palatable price tag.

At the end of the day, I think the B-Series joins the MS and the Volt as cars that help drive mainstream EV adoption by being designed to appeal to mainstream buyers. Cars like the LEAF and the i3 continue to reinforce the EV-is-a-niche-for-tree-huggers meme with their design language.

O

PaceyWhitter | April 29, 2014

I would think there is a simpler non conspiracy theory explanation for why this thing is limited: Tesla.

Tesla makes the battery and motor for the MB. Tesla is not going to help MB build something that competes with its own cars, so the battery has to be smaller, and the motor less powerful.

Seems pretty straight forward to me.

omarsultan.ca.us | April 29, 2014

I don't know--Elon has always stated his goal is not to build the biggest car company out there, but rather, to drive electrification of transportation. I think if MB said they will build an BEV E-Class based on an 85 kWh Tesla power train, he would be quite pleased.

O

holidayday | April 29, 2014

Just looked at the MBUSA website to take a peek, as the link above barely gave me a good view of the car.

It looks more like a Leaf than a Mercedes.

I thought they were designing cars to look like real cars! It's not quite as bad looking as the BMW i3, but still not what I expected out of Mercedes.

Couldn't they have put this in a coupe or convertible chassis?

Also, for those saying "dealers" buy cars, not customers, is this how it works in Europe too? I thought the US was the anomaly in the car buying world.

holidayday | April 29, 2014

Digging further into the Mercedes site, the B-class already has a gas-powered counterpart already being sold. So, I guess the folks in Europe and other places see this style of Mercedes.

We do not have it in the US. I guess we do not expect a Fiat look from Mercedes! :)

AmpedRealtor | April 29, 2014

Tesla is employing the Apple strategy. Like Apple has with tablets and smart phones, Tesla has grabbed the high end EV market and leaves the rest of the players to fight it out in the low end. Tesla sells fewer units than all the others, but likely makes more profit than all of the others. By doing this, Tesla is also helping its reputation as being a no compromise, premium brand.

I believe the market for a "100 mile" EV is limited. There are only so many people who will think it acceptable to only be able to drive 60-70 real world miles per charge, which limits these types of vehicles to commuter cars. Owners of these vehicles will need to own a 2nd ICE vehicle to get them where they need to go, and as such, is not a real value proposition in my mind. With any of these vehicles, needing to rely on a 2nd ICE car throws any potential savings in money and emissions out of the window.

I find it incredibly telling that Nissan could only move fewer than 23,000 Leafs in the US at a price point of around $30,000. At that price point, if it were a compelling offering, they should have moved 4x-5x as many units. The ability to travel no more than 60-70 miles gets old very quickly.

I don't know a single person who would rely on a 60-70 mile range as a daily driver. Most people in Phoenix would laugh out loud at the thought of only going 60-70 miles on a charge. Just driving to work takes most people 20-30 miles in one direction.

clindon | April 29, 2014

It would be interesting to find out the battery format utilized in the MB B-Class bEV and why it was limited to 28 KWhrs. If the battery pack is fitted in the hatchback area similar to the Focus EV then 28 KWhrs may be due to physical space limitations. If it a skateboard configuration then one really has to wonder why it is limited to 28 KWhrs. In a skateboard configuration one would think that a 40 KWhr battery capacity and a range of over approximately 115 miles per charge would be a "no brainer". I suspect that 100 miles is something of a physiological barrier for many people who might otherwise consider a bEV, especially at today’s gas prices with forecasts of substantially higher prices yet to come. Furthermore, in the skateboard configuration a battery capacity of 60 kWhrs or close thereto and approx 160 mile range should not be totally out of the realm of possibilities. At a 60 KWhr battery capacity then intercity travel through Supercharging would be viable and I'm sure MB could negotiate an acceptable SC access arrangement, which of course would be part of the MSRP paid by the consumer! Remember that MB is a Tesla business partner and if Elon is true to his intent of fostering bEV adoption then sharing the SC network with partners would be a BIG step in the right direction.
Granted the B-Class aesthetics will not suit everyone but it is a well established (introduced circa 2005) and successful MB model that has been given an EV power train option. There are many points on both sides of the digital/analogue gauge argument but the use of analogue gauges is not a sign of lesser quality or inherent obsolescence – the vast majority of cars still use analogue, or analogue presentation gauges even when the sensors are digital.
Despite the “range concerns” often expressed here the fact remains that the vast majority of people drive less than 60 miles per day for commuting and errand purposes which is why the nominal 85 mile range is pretty much “de rigour” for the Leaf, Focus EV, MIEV, MB B-Class, BMW I3, etc. When it comes down to paying $3.00 in electricity versus $12.00 to $15.00 in gas to drive 60 miles (based on $.12 per Kwhr versus $4.00 per US gallon) then a lot of people are going to start seriously considering these options, especially when they realize how much more can be saved in routine maintenance and corrective repair costs.
Whilst it is no Tesla MS (and is not meant to be) I think the B-Class bEV is a good entry level bEV for many commuter and in-town run-around purposes. It’s success would help in the general adoption of bEVs, reduce pollution emissions and let’s not forget, contribute to Tesla’s corporate success.

Thanks and Cheers

Carl

Mathew98 | April 29, 2014

@clindon - I'm pretty sure B class is not using the skateboard design nor the battery situating on the floor. If these two design elements + 60kWh battery were used, then Tesla might as well stop selling the base S60 model altogether.

I suspect the 28kWh battery is either in the engine bay or the trunk (or split in both places). If the exterior and interior is based on an existing ICE configuration from EU, then there aren't many places to put the motor + small battery.

Keep in mind that the B class is priced to compete with the i8 and the Volt. If it were to compete with the S60, then Tesla would have nothing to do with MB at all. It doesn't make sense to help the competition to cannibalize its own sales for S60.

clindon | April 29, 2014

@Mathew 98 – You are probably right about the battery configuration and it is what I also suspect, but knowing is very different from suspecting. Nevertheless I just checked the Wiki on the B-class and found it very interesting that the 2012 B-Class bEV concept car had a 36 KWhr battery with a range of 124 miles! Why the downgrade – just a battery cost issue to keep the car overall price in the $40K region or was there something more to the decision?

I really can’t see a B-Class bEV at 60 KWHr and 160 mile range being a significant threat to the S60. No doubt it would take away a few sales, in large part due to a probable lower price, but overall there is far more to a Tesla S60 than just the extra 40-50 mile range advantage with which the B-Class could not compete including but not necessarily limited to, performance (speed, acceleration and almost certainly handling as well), interior size and it’s attendant comfort for all travellers (although I have to admit for all its other faults I found the B-Class to have a very comfortable and ergonomic driver’s position). Add in air suspension, tech package and the other options available on the S60 and you end up with a substantially better car in the S60 which probably also represents better value than the B-Class bEV. My take on it anyway and I have a long family history with MB.

Thanks and Cheers

Carl

AmpedRealtor | April 29, 2014

Tesla will never sell batteries to its competitors that allow them to manufacture vehicles which compete with Tesla. That makes no business sense whatsoever and gives up Tesla's competitive advantage - range. Nope, not going to happen. EVER. Anyone who thinks that Tesla is going to do this solely to further sustainable transport are putting their hippie grooves ahead of their business acumen. Tesla is a business, not a charity, and it is publicly traded and has an obligation to many institutional and individual stock holders.

Did Apple license iOS or their industrial designs to others? You don't give away your core competence to someone else. Unless you want to become irrelevant.

Brian H | April 29, 2014

Yeah, the supposed high-volume "commuter class" pool appears to be a figment of conventional imagination. In the real world, that may be what most people actually do most days, but they want the option to do as much more as they like, when necessity or the impulse strikes.

The other factor that blows the assumption of <100 mi/day is that once people experience EV driving, they want to do more of it. Low range and slow charging puts the kibosh on that.

AmpedRealtor | April 29, 2014

I drive an average of 35 miles per day, but that is a misleading figure. How did I arrive at that number? I took all the miles I've driven and divided that by the number of days that I've owned the car. However, on the days that I do drive the car, I typically drive over 100 miles. Yesterday I had two listing appointments that took me about 110 miles round trip. Even though I may drive an average of 35 miles per day, I could never get any of my driving done using a Leaf, BMW i3, or any current offering other than Model S.

I don't know anyone who would be satisfied with a car that could only take them to work and back, and then sit for four hours while it charges. That is not a majority of people, but a tiny minority. I keep hearing about those mythical people who only need to drive 40 miles, and some of them have posted here. I'm not one of those, and neither is anyone that I know. Personally, I don't believe there is any significant market for that type of range limited car.

omarsultan.ca.us | April 29, 2014

This data would indicate that 80-100 mile range is more than adequate for a commuter-car with enough range for side trips to the store, etc: http://www.statisticbrain.com/commute-statistics/

O

bfranks273 | April 29, 2014

Does look quite Leafy doesn't it. Notice the screen shot, looks to me like the battery is in the back (gas tank) and from the green arrows is the motor in the front? FWD?

But what I want some of you battery math people to calculate is the cost per wh of the 28KWh pack. Its 'only' $41k base. Fair set of nice features. Are the batteries incrementally cheaper or is it the same as current? Maybe Tesla gave them good price due to the Daimler contract and investment.

Rocky_H | April 29, 2014

@AmpedRealtor, you are pretty negative on the idea of anyone tolerating the 80 mile EV. I do think it's unusable as a single person's only vehicle--that just does not work.

However, most households in the U.S. have more than one vehicle. I think in most of those households, an 80 mile EV would work fine as one car, if you also have a gas vehicle. We have two cars, and we were planning on buying an electric for our next car, before we ever heard of Tesla. It makes total sense, because my wife and I work at the same place that is about 2.5 miles from home, so we just carpool together every day. The drive is so short that in the Winters it hardly even warms up, so that's pretty rough on a gas engine anyway, and electric would be good for that. Most days, we do barely 20 miles of driving if we go somewhere after work. For longer stuff, we could take the other car--no problem.

We keep our cars for a long time, though, so a few more years went by, and before we were ready to replace a car, I started to find out about Tesla and saw that maybe there would be an electric car with more range. It's not that we needed it at all, but just because it would feel a bit better to be able to use it for more, and it was a "splurge on the dream car" thing.

Most people I know do not buy luxury cars. They buy $20K-30K vehicles, so for families that have more than one car, I am a big proponent of them getting a Leaf as one of their cars, because the cost is similar, but it actually does have a lot of savings from gas and maintenance.

Pungoteague_Dave | April 30, 2014

Amazingly dense comments above about TM battery strategy and keeping the long range for themselves. That has nothing to do with it. There is ONE issue here, pure and simple: COST.

At today's battery cost, you cannot provide range above 100 miles in an EV below the Model S price point. It is simply impossible - rock and hard place, etc. Mercedes and BMW are both selling their EV's at a TOTAL price point BELOW the price point that TM charges for the Models S battery alone (~$45k). This is also the conundrum that TM is facing and a key reason for the Gen II delays - they have to find a way to get the price per kWh down enough to get a 200-mile-range car under $50k. So far, it cannot be done using existing battery and raw material supply sources. It isn't getting better - Tesla's recently announced battery procurement deal with Panasonic actually drove their cost curve UP on a per-cell basis. Hence the Hail Mary gigafactory proposal, which TM hopes will bring costs down 30-40%. I hope they are correct, but a lot of logistics experts say that even controlling production and higher volumes won't give that kind of cost savings. I would not bet against TM given what they have accomplished already, but it is the biggest hurdle they have faced so far and is the single biggest issue in general EV adoption.

We now see cost factors in the range limitations of vehicles coming out of BMW, MB and others - it isn't their fault, it isn't a dealer conspiracy, it isn't resistance from TM. Rather, it is simple battery economics, and that's all it is. An S-class Mercedes with full EV conversion would cost $150k+, prohibitive for general adoption. Our de-contented Model S is less than that, but not by much when fully loaded to a level that is still below the MB fit, finish and features.

thranx | April 30, 2014

+1 Pungoteague; danged difficult to price a car, any car, at $40,000 if the battery costs $35,000.

Pricee2 | April 30, 2014

With a 28kW battery it's EPA range should be between 92 and 100 miles.

AmpedRealtor | April 30, 2014

@ PD,

One day when the gigafactory is churning and 200 mile batteries can be put into $30,000 cars, should Tesla license their technology to others? Hell no! Why should they give up a competitive advantage?

JZ13 | April 30, 2014

@PD - Model E 20% smaller than an S so there is a 20% lower cost of materials. Add to that the 30% savings from mass production at the gigafactory. There is a 50% reduction in cost of the Model E vs. the Model S which brings you from a $70k price point to a $35k price point. Not factored in to this equation is that Tesla makes 7% annual increases in efficiences of $/kWh and you have plenty of reason to see that $35k Model E will be attainable in 2017.

JZ13 | April 30, 2014

@AR - by licensing the technology to other automakers they are not giving away anything. They are collecting dollars in exchange for their IP. Elon wants to convert the world to BEV. He wants this to happen sooner than later. So if no one else can build a BEV as well as his Tesla you can bet your bottom dollar that he will license the technology to the other automakers so that they can build their own giga-factories and start churning out electric cars.

lazyav8tr | April 30, 2014

The B-Class ICE has been available in Canada for several years just as the Smart diesel was available several years before the US version.

Both were originally designed with a floor pan that can, and now does, accommodate batteries. The Smart was supposed to be available as a BEV from inception by SWATCH. When MB took it over, they abandoned the BEV and produced only gas and diesel options.

The B-Class was thus a natural for Tesla conversion to BEV.

Kleist | April 30, 2014

PD - don't listen to the FUD JP is spreading over on SA.

That is not a "Hail Mary gigafactory"... actually it is a smart move. How do you dominate the retail scene? Own as many stores as possible. In manufacturing it is factories - you can't sell what you can't make. Intel survived the better CPUs AMD had for a handful of years, only because Intel had the factories while AMD could deliver enough chips to satisfy customers demand.
Cell technology improved 50% from Roadster to Model S, you only need another 30% in specific energy density for Gen3 and it will be a slam dunk. Model S has 2008 cell technology, 2013 he has the cell for Gen3 in his hand and road tsting it right now. Why doesn't he tell us? Because then he creates demand he can not produce now and he would give the competition a heads up.
The 30% cell cost reduction is mainly inventory and shipping cost saving... his most expensive parts - cells - being stuck on a boat for a month adds a lot of cost. In manufacturing there are many other way you can save cost besides component cost.
Here is my outlook ( bet ) - Tesla will be able 2-3 years into Gen3 production manufacture a base Gen3 with 200 miles EPA for less cost then BMW can produce a base 3 series.

NKYTA | May 1, 2014

@Kliest, I agree.

Intel survived the better CPUs AMD had for a handful of years, only because Intel had the factories while AMD could deliver enough chips to satisfy customers demand.

For transistors/microchips the win for Intel in the early (well, decades, not years) was Intel's push to create new and better factories that could reduce the size of the wafers, nano-meter by nano-meter and add more transistors per wafer, faster. That does take some capital, but if done right, it is pretty much guaranteed to be a winner.

Can the same be said for batteries? I dunno, I do software, but I'm not shorting TSLA. ;-)

Kleist | May 1, 2014

It should have said (typo)... "while AMD could NOT deliver enough chips to satisfy customers demand"

I work in product design / manufacturing the last 25+ years. First - having the factories and being able to actually make it is the key. Second is cost - the low cost guy aleays wins. Elon is after both - smart. Tesla is not in the business of making cars, but electricity storage... cars is just one application of that. Solar is so cheap now, but only available for about 6 hours a day - electricity storage can spread it over 24 hrs. Only task left is make to electrical storage cheap.

NKYTA | May 1, 2014

Yeah, I inferred the "NOT deliver" in your post, but building Billion dollar plants back in the early 80's is so well out of my ken. To have the gall! ;-)

And be right!

Red Sage ca us | May 1, 2014

"You can get it fast, you can get it cheap, you can get it good -- you can't have all three." -- John C. Dvorak

Elon wants to have good cars that are affordable. You can't do that without a passage of time. That will allow the cars to be both better and less expensive.

Amazing that some point to the time frame for Generation III and say it's too slow, they want it now. Others, mostly naysayers or competitors, say it is too soon. Still more say that it is literally impossible and will never happen.

Patience, patience, patience... Just wait. We'll see.

"Time exists so that everything doesn't happen at once." -- Someone a Lot Smarter Than I Am

thranx | May 1, 2014

"I am vitally interested in the future because I expect to spend the rest of my life there."
--Arthur C. Clarke--

PaceyWhitter | May 1, 2014

@P_D
"Amazingly dense comments above about TM battery strategy and keeping the long range for themselves. That has nothing to do with it. There is ONE issue here, pure and simple: COST."

I disagree. It is not like MB has no experience selling cars at the same price point as the MS.

Now it may be that Tesla is willing to sell them a 60 or 85kwh battery, but Tesla's battery markup would mean that MB would not be able to compete with the MS based on price, but I think the more likely scenario is that Tesla just doesn't want the competition.

Red Sage ca us | May 1, 2014

I believe that Tesla Motors does want competition. They want their competition to come from the biggest automobile manufacturers in the world. It is the quality of competition that they dispute.
Competitors that sincerely want to develop an affordable, mass market, completely new, sub-$40,000 electric car from the ground up, will get plenty of support from Tesla should they ask for it.
Competitors that that want to take an existing ICE design and convert it to full electric will get minimal assistance from Tesla.
Competitors that want to use 'Range Extenders' for the sake of 'EcoBoost' will get next to no support from Tesla.
I believe Tesla has been very consistent when it comes to what type of competition they encourage, which they support, and which they despise.

renwo S alset | May 1, 2014

The built in "price-point" difference between Tesla and MB, or any other manufacturer, is mostly the dealer network (markup). Old Cal Worthington didn't get rich giving away his cars and he is only one of thousands. Don't let "battery cost" totally cloud the issue.

Red Sage ca us | May 1, 2014

VIN20353: An excellent point! +1UP! Methinks the Dealer markup on cars in the $35,000 range are considerably higher than what Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds list as the difference between Dealer Invoice and Suggested Retail. Plus, I wouldn't put it past Dealers to demand a minimum markup from the ICE version of a car to the Hybrid or Electric version, no matter the actual difference in manufacturing cost.

This makes yet another argument in favor of Tesla Motors never selling through a Dealer network, even when their Generation III line comes to market. It would be worth it to reduce the margin per car to the claimed industry standard of 6% (from their current projected 28%) if it meant the Tesla Model E could debut at $34,995 with a 60 kWh battery. Tesla would definitely make up the difference in volume sales.

JZ13 | May 1, 2014

@ Red Sage: Tesla will have margins far higher than 6% for GEN III. Go to their investor presentation for 2014 and they state that they will have margins higher than the industry average for the GEN III class of car.

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