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Mercedes concepts will preview A, B class

Automotive News reports on new concept cars from Mercedes-Benz.

Automotive News

Mercedes-Benz is providing a glimpse of its new generation A- and B-class cars with the Concept BlueZero vehicles that will debut at the Detroit auto show next month.

A version of the front-wheel-drive B class is likely to be sold in the United States about a year after the new generation debuts in 2010. A hybrid B class is expected for this market.

The show cars include:

• The BlueZero E-cell with a lithium ion battery electric drive and a range of up to 125 miles.

• The BlueZero F-cell (for fuel cell) with a range of more than 250 miles.

• BlueZero E-cell Plus with an electric drive and a 1-liter turbocharged three-cylinder internal combustion engine from the Smart ForTwo to generate power and charge the batteries. It has a range of about 370 miles, and up to about 75 miles using only the electric drive.

The three concepts use the sandwich-floor architecture that Mercedes-Benz introduced about a decade ago with the first-generation A class to save space and use different drive systems.

All three concepts are 13.8 feet long and have five seats. The sandwich construction allows a higher seating position, improving visibility and safety, according to Mercedes-Benz.

Because of the architecture, all of the electric vehicle equipment is integrated into the floor rather than using passenger or luggage space. This also gives the car a lower center of gravity and improves agility and handling, says Mercedes.

According to Mercedes-Benz, it will be producing fuel cell cars on a small scale next year and electric cars in 2010.

(Source: Automotive News)