Mercedes BlueZero

The Mercedes BlueZERO concept caris a very interesting vehicle, or rather, a trio of vehicles (electric car, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell). Mercedes says it is production-ready, and that its design will influence the next-generation B-Class.

The three versions of the BlueZERO concept have in common a compact, permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, which operates at a maximum of 13,280 rpm. It is rated at 16 kW and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that Mercedes will bring three new electric drive concept vehicles across the ocean. The Blue-Zero E-Cell (pictured) will be powered exclusively by lithium ion batteries. The others, called the Blue-Zero E-Cell Plus (hybrid) and the Blue-Zero F-Cell (hydrogen fuel cell), we don’t have pictures of. Yet.

The E-Cell Plus adds the Smart ForTwo’s turbocharged three-cylinder engine to the E-Cell package, and its batteries can move the vehicle for 100 km (62 miles) on their own. With a full charge and a full tank (and using regenerative braking), the E-Cell Plus will go 600 km (373 miles). The engine powers the battery during the drive but can also directly move the wheels when needed. Without the liquid fuel assist, the E-Cell’s li-ion pack can move the car for up to 200 km (124 miles), while the F-Cell can go twice as far using the 90 kW fuel cell and capturing energy by regenerative braking. All three should make the jump from zero to 100 kmh in under 11 seconds.

The sandwich component design keep the weight low to the ground, which increases handling ability of the vehicle and decreases the likelihood of rollover. The 5-seat, front wheel drive Mercedes BlueZero F-Cell will begin small scale commercial production in late 2009.

The two companies have joined together to create several BlueZero models which show their joint commitment to create the powertrain of the future. By combining Evonik’s experience with lithium-ion battery technology and Mercedes’ talent for advancing state of the art technologies, the two believe the new concepts will represent a major step forward for electric vehicles.

There is no mention of plug-in charging for the battery pack, meaning this vehicle runs on Hydrogen only, which could present a problem if there’s nowhere to fill it up. The only difference between this fuel cell version and the battery EV version seems to be range. An EV with 400km range is becoming a reality with larger 53kw/hr battery packs like that found in the Tesla – which has an EPA range of 244 Miles (390km) likely being cheaper to install than an entire fuel cell system dependent on an as yet non existent hydrogen infrastructure.

A little more realistic is the third version, the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS which is a plug in series hybrid with very similar specifications to the Chevy Volt. It has the same 1.0-litre turbocharged gasoline engine as the smart fortwo as an additional range extender. This compact three-cylinder powerplant has an output of 50 Kw at a constant 3500 rpm. If required, it can recharge the 17.5-kWh lithium-ion battery via a similarly rated alternator. A range of up to 600 kilometres is possible on a single tank. The purely electrical, locally emission-free range is up to 100 kilometres.

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