In our days urban mobility has become an increasingly visible problem. Only few months ago, in fact, in Italy the institutions accused the cars to be the main reason of the high pollution in the main Italian cities. There is other evident problems, especially for drivers, affecting ride comfort and long wait the traffic.
One of the various philosophies that characterize Mercedes-Benz is the intention to equip each car with the right technology; here is so that, as in the S-Class appears a night vision system to help the driver after sunset, Smart and B-Class are proposed with a full electric engine. With the aim of making us better understand how the electric can really be a solution for urban mobility I have been invited by the Mercedes-Benz to a Test Drive of the B-Class Electric Drive. So here we are in Milan, perfect testing ground to see if the electric engines can be or not the right direction on the road to the future of city cars.
As I enter on board the B-Class Electric Drive I realize I’m in a different car: the classic tachometer gives way to an indicator that measures the instantaneous power consumption; the onboard computer provides us useful information on discharging and battery life and, above all, I realize that, even with the engine running, there’s no engine sound.
The perceptions of our senses change on board of an electric car but not only, the driving habits changes too implying less stress for the driver. Why? First thing you may notice is the absence of a gearbox and second, the other major factor of change, is the energy recovery system. While driving the recovery system stores the electrical energy by acting as an engine brake that engages on deceleration; in the first km may be surpring because it seems to me that the vehicle is braking without the brake pressure but once used to it, I realize that I can use the system to almost drive with a single pedal.
On the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive the energy recover system is proposed in combination with the latest technologies: with the radar sensors of the Collision Prevention Assist Plus, the car is able to modulate the degree of recovery of energy depending on the presence of a vehicle in front and his behavior. The system can in fact decide to increase the regeneration torque if a car that precedes us goes is slowing down or, in the absence of cars in front of us, sailing saving energy.
Intelligent regeneration, in combination with Comand system is even smarter, acquiring information from the navigation system about traffic signs and speed limits and applying those concepts to the behavior of the energy recovery. In conclusion, in traffic, the car helps the driver by modulating the recovery, acting in effect as an engine brake, increasing the driving comfort intelligently and Eco-Friendly. The driver can still change the methods of energy recovery thanks to 4 modes: D+, D, D- and D auto where the auto mode is assisted by the radars. You can also have the option to choose 3 modes of driving the car E+ (Economy Plus), E (Economy) and S (Sport) where the power of the electric motor change in order to adapt to the style of driving and the autonomy required.
Playing between the various driving modes I notice how the power and torque offered by the engine change, in particular, in the sport mode, the torque offered by the engine is really great, always remembering that, in this type of engines the maximum torque is available immediately. All this technology is transformed into a range of up to 230km (extendable with the Range Plus functionality if necessary) with speed and torque truly amazing for city driving or a little journey with zero emissions.
Adding plus such as the development of powertrain along with Tesla or pre-heating (or cooling) of the cabin, in addition to the comfort and attention to detail offered by every Mercedes-Benz car, you can really realize that B-Class Electric Drive can be a real solution to city transport. Charging is incredibly fast, in just 3 hours from a public charging station, and in 9 hours from home, at a cost of about 4 euros.
For the customers who can buy it, keeping in the garage a sport car when you want to have fun, during the week you can go to work in total comfort with a truly revolutionary car.
For let better know this car the Italian #IoSonoElettrica (Italian for I’m Electric) tour, organized by Mercedes-Benz, involved 18 cities in 20 stages and seven mayors showing how the electric car can be close to the people even outside of major population centers. On this tour Mercedes-Benz was received great success and support, showing that the car’s interior space is not compromised by the electric propulsion system, minimal fuel costs and that this type of vehicle shall be tested in order to make really account of the pleasure that can give in the right context. The cooperation with Life Gate has also guaranteed the zero emission of the tour, protecting 15,000 square meters of the Ticino Park.
The Mercedes-Benz commitment to bring people to electric mobility, however, did not stop with the tour, in fact, thanks to the collaboration with Edilfar Rent, #ElectricRent is born, where Smart and B-Class Electric Drive are available to hire in Rome and Milan, becoming a perfect opportunity to make a Test Drive at an affordable price to better understand an entirely new type of car.
With Smart in fact you can get around the city with ease, overcoming the LTZ and with the B-Class Electric Drive you can get out of the city thanks to the better autonomy, the ability to accommodate more than two people and the larger luggage compartment.
By: Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi