Mercedes-Benz showed off its latest research effort into electric cars at the Paris Motor Show, the E-Cell. With a power train provided by Tesla fitted into a Mercedes-Benz A-class car, this vehicle is road-worthy. Mercedes-Benz is putting 500 E-Cells into series production in Fall of 2010, and leasing them to customers in Europe as an initial test fleet.

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With two lithium ion battery packs set into the floor of the car, making for a low center of gravity, the E-Cell gets a range of 125 miles, using the New European Driving Cycle testing. Mercedes-Benz boasts that the car offers the same internal capacity as a gasoline-powered A-class, making the car a reasonable urban-based family car.

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The E-Cell, like the Tesla Roadster, uses a J1772 standard recharging plug, offering smart charging characteristics. As such, the car can be set to recharge during specific hours, when electricity is cheaper.

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Two plug-in cords are neatly situated under a panel in the cargo area. These cords handle two possible European standard wall currents, either single-phase or three-phase 230 watts. Using a single-phase outlet, the E-Cell takes 8 hours for a half charge. The three-phase outlet reduces that time to 3 hours.

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With no engine under the hood, the auxiliary battery takes center stage. The car's single electric motor generates 95 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes-Benz says the car can get to 35 mph in about 5.5 seconds.

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The instrument cluster shows a power-use gauge instead of a tachometer, along with a range readout in the center display. The E-Cell includes a function that lets the driver preset the climate control while the car is charging.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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