The upcoming Mercedes-Benz B-Class E-Cell will employ an electric drivetrain developed by Tesla Motors, according to international reports.
Germany’s Automobilwoche reports Mercedes’ parent company Daimler has given a contract to the US-based electric vehicle expert to develop the compact MPV’s electric powertrain with a view to launching the zero-emission small car in 2014.
In late-May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed the deal with Daimler was larger than the sum of all the company’s previous contracts.
The B-Class E-Cell is set to become the second Mercedes-Benz vehicle developed in collaboration with Tesla, following the Smart Fortwo electric drive, which went into production at the end of 2009.
Tesla has also partnered with Toyota to supply the batteries and electric motors for the RAV4 EV, which goes on sale in the US in the coming weeks.
Daimler spokesperson Florian Martens confirmed with Bloomberg the project between Mercedes-Benz and Tesla was for a variant of the B-Class, without going into further detail.
Mercedes-Benz research and development chief Thomas Weber told Bloomberg the group’s partnership with Tesla has developed “very well” and is “long-term oriented”.
“Both companies are leading players for electric mobility and continue to push ahead together in this field,” Weber said.
Mercedes-Benz is yet to officially confirm its plans for an all-electric B-Class.
At last September’s Frankfurt motor show, Mercedes revealed the B-Class E-Cell Plus concept, which teamed a 50kW 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a 70kW electric motor.
Automobilwoche’s source said the company was pursuing EV technology rather than a range-extender set-up because of better concessions and incentives offered by governments to owners of zero-emission cars.