Mercedes is to bring an all-electric version of the new B-Class to the UK next year, with a drivetrain developed by Tesla.
The B-Class Electric Drive will be priced to fall in line with high-end diesel models after applying the Government’s £5,000 plug-in car grant, making it a tempting alternative for urban families.
Mercedes is making initial claims of a range in the region of 120 miles between full charges, citing that the vast majority of UK drivers cover less than 30 miles per day.
“Previously the technology has only been in development cars, so this is the first volume production Mercedes-Benz electric car,” said Angus Fitton, PR manager at Mercedes UK.
“It also marks the tie-up with Tesla, so the batteries, electric motor and the electronics that go with it and modulate it all are all Tesla’s.”
With many manufacturers now joining the electric and plug-in hybrid market, Fitton explains Mercedes is trying to encourage take-up by keeping compromise to a minimum.
“We’re looking at this being roughly the same as a B 200 CDI with the automatic gearbox, so if you live in an urban area there’s the choice,” he continued. “There’s no sacrifice on boot space or versatility, and people are less willing to make sacrifices just because it’s an electric car.
An in-house Mercedes app has already been developed that allows owners to remotely keep tabs on the Electric Drive’s charge status, predicted range and more.
Home charging solutions will not be included with the B-Class Electric Drive, leaving customers to source a wall-mounted charger from an energy supplier of their choice.
However, all Mercedes dealers will be able to sell and service the Electric Drive.
Land Rover has begun production of the new Discovery Sport, which replaces the much-loved Freelander with a new seven-seat platform.
The first car off the production line was unveiled to the media at the firm’s Halewood factory near Liverpool, where the first model of the new Discovery family will be built.
As part of a high-profile new commercial partnership, Land Rover will give Discovery Sport ‘number one’ to the world’s first commercial space flight provider, Virgin Galactic.
The British 4x4 maker has already supplied a number of Range Rovers and Discovery 4s for use at Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America facility in New Mexico, USA.
Land Rover has moved to what it calls a ‘5+2’ seating layout, where two folding seats in the boot form a temporary third row designed around 13-year-olds.
And yet the whole car measures less than 4.6 metres long, making it several centimetres shorter than even the shortest of its five-seat rivals.
Less intrusive new rear suspension, which marks a wholesale engineering departure from the Evoque platform on which the Discovery Sport is based, is largely responsible for the impressive packaging.
Up to seven USB ports and four 12-volt power sockets can be specified to enable charging for as many as 11 devices at once.
Land Rover promises that its newest model will retain and build on the off-road ability of the Freelander and Evoque, with expanded Terrain Response technology and a maximum wading depth of two feet (60cm).
The first examples will reach customers early in 2015.
Honda’s fuel-sipping 1.6 diesel engine has once again underlined its impressive real-world fuel efficiency, with the new Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC powering Honda to victory in this year’s eco-driving challenge ‘MPG Marathon’.
In the rigorous two day test over a specially-designated 330 miles of UK road, Swindon-based Honda R&D engineers Fergal McGrath, James Warren, Tony Shiggins and Julian Warren scooped the top spot for Best Outright MPG with 97.92mpg, overachieving against the Tourer’s quoted combined 74.3mpg by 31.8%.
Organised by Fleet World magazine and sponsored by ALD Automotive and Tracker, the MPG Marathon is designed to be a true real-world test that demonstrates the benefits to both the environment and the motorist’s back pocket of employing simple, smarter driving techniques.
The 26 teams taking part in this year’s MPG Marathon were free to plan their own routes, provided that they included a number of pre-agreed, fixed points - making keen navigational skills essential.
Over the two days the cars and vans set out each morning from South Cerney, near Cirencester, checking in at stopping points as far and wide as the Brecon Beacons, Abergavenny, Worcester, Andover and Bath.
Commenting on the result, Ross Durkin, managing editor of Fleet World Group and organiser of the MPG Marathon said: “All credit to the Honda engineering team. Their performance in recording an average of 97.92mpg over the two days was quite exceptional given the challenging driving conditions that all the contestants faced.
“It is testimony to their expert eco-driving skills that they have emerged triumphant against a very strong field of competitors, including nine former champions, and shows what can be achieved with the current generation of eco-friendly models available on the market today.”
The Civic Tourer faced stiff competition from a range of models, most notably Ford’s Fiesta Titanium ECOnetic and Citroen’s C4 Cactus, which made up the rest of the top three respectively.