Cars

Published on November 2nd, 2015 | by Kyle Field

15

Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive — One Year Later (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

November 2nd, 2015 by  

My wife and I bought our 2014 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive one year ago (on November 6, 2014), and seeing as how I reviewed it early on in our ownership, I wanted to share an update after the first year. As a refresher, we selected the B-Class Electric as a compromise between my wife’s desire for a more luxury-oriented car and my push for an electric car. After reviewing the options inside and out and making every attempt to (unsuccessfully) try to justify a Tesla Model S, our decision was between the Mercedes B-Class Electric and the BMW i3. Ultimately, we opted for the MB because my wife really wanted a car that looked like a normal car, wanted the 5th seat, and didn’t want to have to open the front doors every time the kids needed to get out of the back (which you have to do with the i3’s suicide doors).

A year and 9,700 miles later, we are still enjoying the car quite a bit. It works well for our family of 5 and hasn’t really limited our lifestyle. For the first 9 months of ownership, we had a Prius as our second car so we could just take any longer trips in that. In August of this year, I kicked it up a notch and doubled down on EVs by trading in our 2010 Prius for a 2014 Nissan Leaf with quick charging.

Year in Summary

In the last year, with our Mercedes, we have…

  • Driven 9,500 all-electric miles.
  • Saved $1,155 by using electricity as compared to what we would have spent on gasoline.
  • Used an extra 3,441 kWhs of solar-powered electricity to drive.
  • NOT burned 485 gallons of gasoline.
  • Avoided ~50 trips to the gas station.

The chart below is what I use to track our mileage, savings, usage, etc:

bclass_savings

Charging

Most of our charging is done at home with the included 110-volt wall charger, as most of our driving is around town with only the occasional trip down to Los Angeles requiring remote charging. We did purchase a Level 2 charger but need a full electrical panel upgrade to use it full time and have found that 110-volt charging speeds get us fully charged almost every night. We do stop by and pay to charge at our local chargers here and there – primarily to ensure that they know there are EVs in the area that are willing to pay for charging.

2014-Mercedes-B-Class-Electric-Drive-7

The Driving Experience

The instant torque of the powerful Tesla drivetrain in our B-Class Electric makes it more fun to drive than our old BMW convertible, and the fact that we charge it up with our solar panels* makes the driving mostly guilt free. On top of that, the combination of a quiet electric drive motor and the luxury insulation in the car make the drive superbly quiet, giving the impression that we are flying or floating along the road vs that driving thing we used to do. In my opinion, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive was a great value for the money and really delivers a (small) premium car with a premium (Tesla) EV drivetrain.

*Solar panels on the roof of our house offset all kWh used through net metering, not by directly charging the car.

home_solar_panels

Cons

We are enjoying the car overall but there are a few things that I wish were different. First, the car is not very efficient, getting only 2.8 miles/kWh, or roughly 79 MPGe. This means that we use more kWhs to drive than most other EVs would use, which typically average over 100 MPGe. What’s not as obvious is that this also results in fewer miles per charge… which is a net slower charging rate. This doesn’t impact us most days, as we are just charging at home overnight, but when we’re out and about, it adds 50% to our charging time vs the Leaf.

Quick real-life example – we went down to Santa Monica for the day, which is ~60 miles from our house (bringing remaining range to 24 miles). To get home, we needed to add ~45 miles of range while charging in Santa Monica in order to get home. At a standard Level 2 charging rate of 6.6 kW/h, we add 18.5 miles of range per hour in the Mercedes (6.6 kW/h times 2.8 mi/kWh). In the Leaf, we would have added 28.4 miles of range per hour (6.6 kW/h x 4.3 mi/kWh). This translates into a real-world charge time of 2.4 hours (45 miles; 18.5 miles/hr) for the Mercedes vs 1.6 hours for the Leaf – 50% slower/longer.

2014-Mercedes-B-Class-Electric-Drive-5

Second, the car lacks DC fast charging capability. This isn’t a show-stopper, as most of our charging is done at home, overnight, but it’s a bit frustrating since the car is technically capable of DC fast charging. The explanation, per PluginCars.com:

“This generation of B-Class Electric offers no quick charge port (for using CHAdeMO or SAE Combo public quick charging). Mercedes engineers told PluginCars.com that they preferred to use the existing fuel door on the back left side of the vehicle, rather than changing the car’s sheet metal to accommodate a bigger port for faster charging. Quick charging is being considered for future model years.”

That seems like a rather weak excuse not to add something that improves the functionality of the car as much as a quick charge port does. Being able to get up to 80% charge in just 30 minutes is something we do use, albeit infrequently, in our Nissan Leaf, and it would have been nice to have it on the B-Class Electric as well.

In Summary

Possibly the biggest statement about how much we have enjoyed the Mercedes B-Class and how little it really changed our habits was back in August when I traded in our Prius for a Nissan Leaf. It was a great deal and cost very little out of pocket but I went into our second EV purchase knowing roughly what to expect. I made sure we had quick charging, to allow for faster recharge times on longer range trips to Los Angeles or Santa Barbara, but ultimately, driving a range-limited EV is a minor inconvenience we were willing to accept. We have enjoyed driving the B-Class Electric, saving money, and most importantly for us, not using gas.

solar powered leaf


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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral link: http://ts.la/kyle623



  • Duncan Espie

    Just bought my Mercedes B class EV, where I live in the UK. It is one year old with only 210miles registered, so a main agents loan car I assume. Problem is, even though we have a 240v- 32amp charger we only register a 55mile range, and that is all she does. Today I have 21 miles range left, which shows as 38%, getting concerned whether to send it back

    • Bob_Wallace

      What sort of warranty do you have for the battery?

      • Duncan Espie

        It’s got 7 years left of 8 years, but I may be suffering from an Intel shortage.
        I found a report that says:-

        The B-class can go up to 87 miles on a 3phase charge, and it can be charged on a 240volt 16-32amp supply to a 60-mile range in a bit more than two hours.

        I subscribe to a supplier called Chargemaster, and despite checking their service, have to assume it is 3 phase and neutral.
        I’m charging from my home pod at the moment, and will take it to the local Chargemaster outlet and see if it takes the usual 55 miles any higher.
        I find it difficult to understand why more information is not readily available, I really expected a plug and play experience.

        • Duncan Espie

          Moved on slightly and received much better info. I’m getting 8+miles per 10% of battery charge, if I use the range extender button before I charge I can travel 115 miles, in D+ at around 55mph.
          It really is a wonderful car.
          If you want to reset the GOM, scroll through the the screens with the left hand buttons on the steering wheel until you see the since reset screen press OK and the select yes, your range will instantly grow.
          But keep to the 80 miles per charge at 10-12degess C.

  • Shane 2

    No fast charging and no REx option means it doesn’t compete with the i3 if you want to use it for longer range journeys.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Good point.

  • fashionvalley

    Interesting review of one year using Merc EV, limitations=SLOW reCharging of unit, otherwise, it’s luxury,etc would make it well matched for “city driving”. Eventually long range driving[300miles+]will be the “norm” as battery and charging technology improve, I’ll be waiting til then…

    • TedKidd

      “driving a range-limited EV is a minor inconvenience we were willing to accept.”

      We early adopters understand that there is sacrifice required to drive new tech, and that we need to show manufacturers there is demand for this new tech or they won’t invest in improvements needed for the mainstream market (like you) to be interested in them.

      If we don’t show there is interest, the corresponding lack of improvement means WE don’t get significantly better cars next time. A sisyphus situation.

      My first EV only went 25 mph – and in winter has less than 10 miles range. Moving to my second car was a huge improvement – so great I was comfortable selling my TDI sportwagen – my primary vehicle.

      If you are an early majority buyer, you should absolutely wait for 200 mile cars. Your car should have minimum 10 kw onboard ac charging and probably some type of fast DC charging.

      Even though I’m an early adopter and advocate, I am not interested in wearing my “early adopter” hat NEXT time I get a car.

    • Duncan Espie

      I call my trips ‘school runnings’, I’ve covered 120 miles in a month!.
      It may increase as vacation cover is needed, but maximum say 70-80 miles a day.
      The Mercedes BClass, is great for this, but even better was the discount. I saw the car in November, offering was £32,000, say 46,000$US, bought the car last month for £23,000, say 34,000$US, car had 210 miles on the clock.
      I don’t hear of any facelift a to the model soon either, whereas the BMW i3 I looked at is being updated later this year, and BMW’s previous models tend to collapse in value.
      The BMW i3 without the range extender is seriously fast, but I hear down to 15 miles range in sub-zero temps. Range extender is a bit slower but noisy, you can just keep topping up the tank though.

  • Kraylin

    Thank you for the review and the effort it took to track and report on your year of ownership. I find it interesting how much your gas prices fluctuate, it always frustrates me when our gas prices yo-yo like that as well.

    • fashionvalley

      Is it just me or do gas prices tend to DROP around election times? 🙂

  • Awesome review, Kyle. Thanks so much for updating us. Was very curious how this was going (as you know :D). Am also eager to drive this car and compare to the i3. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any in my region in Florida (let alone Poland). Will have to make a trip out to Cali 😀

    • Kyle Field

      How about March? 😀

    • TedKidd

      Don’t drive it. You’ll want it.

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