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Daimler Investing €600M in Center of Excellence for Compact Vehicles; To Begin Limited Series Production of A-Class E-CELL EV in 2010

Powertrain of the Mercedes-Benz Concept BlueZERO E-CELL, introduced in January 2009 in Detroit. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz is further expanding its center of excellence for compact vehicles by enlarging its Rastatt plant with an investment of €600 million (US$902 million). The first vehicles of the successor generation to the current A- and B-Class will roll off the assembly lines in Rastatt from the end of 2011.

From the end of 2010 production at the Rastatt plant will also be expanded with small series production of the battery-electric A-Class E-CELL. Daimler introduced three near-production Concept BlueZERO vehicles in January at the North American International Auto Show: the BlueZERO E-CELL with battery-electric drive; the BlueZERO F-CELL (fuel cell); and the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS with electric drive and internal combustion engine as range extender. (Earlier post.)

All three Concept BlueZERO models introduced in January featured front-wheel drive and 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 N·m (236 lb-ft).

All three variants accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 11 seconds. Their top speed was electronically limited to 150 km/h (93 mph) in the interests of optimal range and energy efficiency. The BlueZero E-CELL with battery-electric drive featured a range of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) using electric drive alone.

With a charging capacity of 15 kW, the lithium-ion batteries in the BlueZERO E-CELL and the extended range E-Cell PLUS could store enough energy for a range of 50 kilometers (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 (62 miles and 124 miles) 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 incorporated an electronic control unit that supports intelligent charging stations and billing systems.

Small series production of the A-Class E-Cell will once again prove the expertise of the Rastatt plant in premium compact vehicles. The employees are also intensively preparing for the successor generation of the A- and B-Class—we are thus well-prepared and highly motivated for the future.

—Peter Wesp, head of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt:

An additional production hall, in which construction for the plant equipment for body shells will begin soon, has been built as an auxiliary to the existing building facilities in Rastatt. To enable part deliveries and unloading directly at the production site, a direct train connection is planned for the hall. The new body shell hall has an area of approximately 66,000 m2.

With the expansion of its product line in the compact vehicle segment, in future Mercedes-Benz will be offering four models instead of the current two with a view to acquiring new customer groups and growing in additional markets. The future models will also offer product features like generous interior space, which are already popular with customers of the A- and B-Class.

With the A- and B-Class, Mercedes-Benz is already a successful premium manufacturer of compact vehicles. Since the A-Class entered production in 1997 and the B-Class in 2005 more than 2.4 million A- and B-Class vehicles have rolled off assembly lines. Between 2002 and 2005 Daimler AG invested about €900 million in the Rastatt plant for the second generation of the A-Class and the B-Class.

The most important markets for the compact vehicles from Rastatt are Germany, Italy, France and the UK, Daimler said. In addition, this year the B-Class was successfully launched in China where it has gained a market share of 25%, significantly above expectations.

Daimler said it will also invest a further €800 million will be invested in a new plant at the Hungarian location of Kecskemét.



Germans seem to be obsessed with blue color. Almost any new technology from VW and Daimler, that reduces fuel consumption, contains the word BLUE in name.


"..electric drive and internal combustion engine as range extender.."

This is a significant announcement, but many of us have seen SO many announcements that we have taken a "I will believe it when I see it" attitude.

Henry Gibson

With the ability to produce efficent engines in small sizes there is no reason to have a full electric car. The series hybrid style of operation already provides for a doubling of efficiency or more in city driving with regeneration.

Rapid charging puts a very large spot load on the electric grid usually during the daytime when the load is highest. This rapid charging is fifteen times or more the average load of the ordinary small dwelling.

It is expensive to provide such high power that would be seldom used. An alternative is to provide yet another large battery at the charging location.

Large natural gas powered engines would be the best way to provide rapid charging power. Diesel engines would do for locations without natural gas.

Seven and a half-kilowatt hours for 62 miles makes the average rating of the motor of this car about 7.5 kilowatts at a speed of 62 miles an hour. This 7.5 kW figure points out the inefficiency of having a 15O kW engine in an ordinary car used for ordinary driving and the opportunity for use of hybrid drives with much simpler hydraulic hybrids for some of them. An OPOC engine generator of 7.5 kW might weigh as low as 10 kg. The engines alone are 1 hp per pound.

The average use of automobiles provides for electric cars with short range batteries that can be charged overnight or parked during the working day. A small range extender will provide for the security of longer trips even very extended trips. For long extended trips with much luggage and several persons a large rental car is an economic answer, but the ordinary trip is a work or shopping commute.

It is good that these cars have a blue label because a continuous 70 kW electric motor cannot be considered "green". The only cars to be considered "green" are those that can get a large customer base so that here are many on the road.

Similar automobiles were fitted with ZEBRA batteries with a 100 km range over ten years ago for an extensive trial. ..HG..


We have 200 hp engines when we use about 20 hp most of the time. The engines and transmissions are bigger and heavier, which reduces fuel economy. The range extender idea makes sense. You can still do regenerative braking and with more batteries, it should capture even more energy. We may be headed towards an interesting motoring future.



Suzuki has announced a new PHEV (Swift) with lithium battery pack and a very small 600 cc range extender genset. That combination sould give something between 200 mpg and 300 mph and CO2 averaging less 50 gr/Km.

It will not be a race car but a good very low consumptipon small city car.

Wonder if future city cars should not be very very small to allow more parking and less pollution. Larger cars could be banned or have to pay heavy fees ($25+/day?) to use city streets.



What do you expect? The Allies did such a good job at "re educating" the Germans after WWII that the color brown is strengstens verboten.

The brain washing was so effective that they went from National Socialism to National Masochism overnight.


As a kid, mum had 'blue bags' that included starch to brighten shirts.
Today 'blue ducks and other sanitisers are in flush toilets everywhere.
Whether they do more than turn the oceans slightly darker blue is questionable but it is definitely recognised everywhere as 'sanitary'.
Maybe this is the clean (nearly green)image intention.


@ Mannstein

What you said about "re educating" the Germans is probably all true, although mainstream media is silent about it. But Germans, on average, were far better treated by the Allies than the Germans treated most nations in occupied countries, especially in Eastern Europe, in WW2 and WW1.

You can find about many issues, commented from another point of view, at:

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