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Mercedes-Benz Concept BlueZERO

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Khatir Soltani
Blue is the new green. Mercedes-Benz, a leader in alternatively powered automotive technology, is advancing the evolution of more environmentally friendly vehicles with Concept BlueZERO. BlueZERO, presented at the North American International Auto Show, is out of the ordinary in that it amalgamates three models with unique powertrains into one vehicle architecture. This type of design helps to streamline the implementation of future technologies.

The BlueZERO E-CELL variant is a purely electric vehicle with a range of 200 km. The other two models both use electric drive but differ by offering electricity generation by either hydrogen fuel or regular gasoline. The former is termed the BlueZERO F-CELL for 'fuel cell', and has a range of over 400 km. The latter is termed the BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS and has a range of 600 km. The E-CELL PLUS uses the same 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder motor from the smart fortwo, which deliver 50 kW to the batteries when run at 3500 rpm.

All BlueZEROs employ liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries, which are more technologically advanced (and expensive) than nickel-metal hydride batteries used in most hybrid vehicles. These batteries power an electric motor that delivers 236 lb.-ft. of torque and 135 hp at peak output, or 94 hp of continuous output. All variants can reach 100 km/h in under 11 seconds, and can continue to a restricted limit of 150 km/h. When plugged in at home, the batteries can take up to four hours to recharge.

The BlueZERO body architecture is derived from the A-Class and B-Class, which both position major drive components under the passenger compartment. This design allows for compact exterior dimensions and a relatively low centre of gravity. The five-passenger BlueZERO has a 500-litre cargo capacity.

Honda was the first manufacturer to release a fuel-cell vehicle to the public with the FCX Clarity, but Mercedes-Benz will start small-scale production of fuel-cell vehicles in 2009.

photo:Matthieu Lambert
Khatir Soltani
Khatir Soltani
Automotive expert
  • Over 6 years experience as a car reviewer
  • Over 50 test drives in the last year
  • Involved in discussions with virtually every auto manufacturer in Canada