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by Daniel DeGasperi

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive will be the first battery-powered electric car the German manufacturer puts into production.

Making its debut at the 2013 New York auto show, the new-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is set for US release in early 2014.

It uses an electric motor that produces 100kW or power and 309Nm of torque, and gets to 100km/h in under 10 seconds.

The motor is fed energy by a 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack sandwiched underneath the floor in what Mercedes-Benz calls an “energy space” – it means there is no cabin or luggage space compromise compared with a regular B-Class, and being mid-mounted it is less affected by front and rear crashes.

The B-Class Electric Drive takes four hours to fully charge via a household socket, providing up to 200km driving range. The car also features brake energy regeneration, which harnesses kinetic energy when coasting or braking.

Inside, the B-Class Electric Drive replaces the tachometer in the petrol and diesel models with an energy gauge, indicating when the car is at its most and least efficient, and when it is using the brake energy regeneration.

Auto braking technology, and a 5.8-inch colour screen with COMAND online and app functionality is, however, carried over from regular B-Class models.

The B-Class Electric Drive also gets a nifty “remote check up” feature that allows owners to check the charging progress of their car via an internet link to a smartphone. A function also enables drivers to automatically turn on the air conditioning remotely, so long as wi-fi is available where both the car and smartphone are.

Mercedes-Benz will launch the B-Class Electric Drive in the US first early next year, with German and other European markets to follow.

Right hand drive production currently isn’t planned, however, with a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson at the New York show citing a lack of tax incentives and other subsidies for electric cars in places like Australia as prohibiting their viability, as the technology is too expensive to compete without an external pricing incentive.