When’s a half price Mercedes not a half price Mercedes? When it’s nearly half price….And whilst it’s not quite there, it’s important to remember that “nearly half price” is always at least half as much better than full price. Well I’ve discovered such a deal although there are some caveats that will prove of no consequence for some and rule the deal out completely for others. Almost 2 years ago the news from Stuttgart was the launch of Benz’s one and only pure electric car, the B Class Electric Drive - Just to be clear, that’s a pure electric car with 5 doors, 5 proper seats, a proper boot and a 3 pointed star on the bonnet, an indication that it might at least contain some proper German build quality. Mercedes have done quite a bit of work for Tesla providing the American electric car firm with parts for their Model S and Model X EVs and Tesla in turn worked on the electric motor, battery and transmission that’s installed in the B-Class. All sounds good so far doesn’t it? And it gets better. As well as all that shared wisdom and family car practicality, the Electric B-Class gets to 60mph in 7.9 seconds with blistering acceleration to 40mph that’s only beaten by the BMW i3. The crowning glory of the leccy B-Class though is its price - £32,670. Well, that’s what the brochure says anyway. Which if comparing it’s attributes to those of the similarly priced but considerably smaller BMW i3 electric car with its silly back doors, makes the Merc appear pretty good value on its own. But that’s not the price you’ll pay if you ask for a discount - That price in the Uk at least will drop to £19,798.40p - Just to be clear, that’s nearly £13,000 off a £30 odd thousand pound car - That’s the price I found at drivethedeal.com - I suspect if you showed their quote to your local Mercedes Benz dealer they’d at least match, if not beat it.
So what are these caveats I mentioned earlier? Well obviously, being an electric only car, as good as the B-Class Electric Drive appears in almost every area, there is a limit on how far it can go between charges. That distance is quoted by Mercedes as up to 124 miles. Which isn’t very far. Especially when in real world use, most owners are managing between 90 and 100 miles. Now that’s not a reason to rule it out entirely as that’s more than some EV owners are getting now from other mass-market electric cars and might even suit your needs perfectly. But, what might make even the most devoted of electric carists buy just about anything else, is how long it takes to recharge the batteries - For some reason Mercedes haven’t designed into the car any ability whatsoever to charge it quickly - This means from flat, a charge via a 3 pin plug at home takes 21 hours - Nearly a whole day and night - At a public charge point it’d take nearly 4 and a half hours. Now Mercedes are a German company and German companies as we all know from the recent news headlines involving exhaust emissions and another German car maker, don’t do anything accidentally - So how have Mercedes Benz managed to put on sale the only electric only car to not have any ability to charge in what is now a pretty much industry standard 30 minutes? Perhaps Tesla saw Mercedes as a threat to their own market sector, so in spite of their partnership they didn’t include access to rapid charging technology in their collaboration. Given not one part of the bodywork of the B-Class has been re-engineered for the electric version, what seems more likely is that Mercedes Benz only built this car because current EU regulations requires car makers to build and sell electric cars if they’re also to be permitted to continue to build cars that run on diesel and petrol. Either way, at under £20k, the B-Class Electric Drive is an absolute bargain for anyone wanting a well built, German, electric only family hatchback as long as you don’t do more than 100 miles in between 4 hour breaks…..Or for those who drive even further in a day and suffer from a weak bladder, or perhaps a fascination with motorway service areas.