|The BlueZERO concept. Click to enlarge.|
Mercedes-Benz will present its near-series electric-drive Concept BlueZERO at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
Based on a single vehicle architecture, this modular concept allows three models with different drive configurations: the BlueZERO E-CELL with battery-electric drive and a range of up to 200 km (124 miles); the BlueZERO F-CELL (fuel cell) with a range of more than 400 km (249 miles); and the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS with electric drive and internal combustion engine as range extender. The BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS has an overall range of up to 600 km (373 miles) and can cover a distance of up to 100 km (62 miles) using electric drive alone.
The three BlueZERO variants are based on the sandwich-floor architecture which Mercedes-Benz introduced some ten years ago, initially for the A-Class and then for the B-Class, one of the aims being to integrate alternative drive systems. Advantages of the modified construction include the positive effect of the major drive components on the center of gravity, their space-saving design and the fact that they are extremely well protected within the vehicle underbody.
Our modular system allows different drive configurations for every customer requirement. The modified sandwich-floor platform provides the perfect basis for a wide model range with electric drive systems. We are also developing a new, additional platform for future compact models with power units based on optimized internal combustion engines. The intelligent networking of both architectures enables us to develop our product portfolio extremely flexibly and efficiently. From 2009, we will be producing the first Mercedes fuel-cell cars on a small scale. Small-scale production of Mercedes-Benz cars with battery-electric drive alone will then commence in 2010.—Dr. Thomas Weber, the member of the Daimler AG Board of Management responsible for corporate research and development at Mercedes-Benz Cars
All three BlueZERO models feature front-wheel drive. The Mercedes engineers have put together a modular system comprising several flexibly combinable drive components. These include liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries with a storage capacity of up to 35 kWh and a compact electric motor with a maximum output of 100 kW (continuous output 70 kW), which develops a peak torque of 320 Nm.
All three variants accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 11 seconds. Their top speed is electronically limited to 150 km/h (93 mph) in the interests of optimal range and energy efficiency.
With a charging capacity of 15 kW, the lithium-ion batteries in the BlueZERO E-CELL and the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS can store enough energy for a range of 50 km (31 miles) within 30 minutes. In terms of purely electrical drive, one or two hours of charging time is needed for a range of 100 and 200 kilometers respectively. The charging times are doubled if the charging capacity is 7 kW, as would be the case in a normal household. Both of these BlueZERO vehicles incorporate an electronic control unit that supports intelligent charging stations and billing systems.
At the rear, the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS has the same 1.0-liter 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 3,500 rpm. If required, it can recharge the 17.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack by means of a similarly rated alternator.