Mercedes concept

Mercedes-Benz debuts alternative fuel BlueZero at Detroit

While other manufacturers pull out of Detroit or cancel big unveils, Mercedes is taking the January motor show pretty seriously. Not only will the all-new E-class be shown for the first time, but there will be a bunch of environmentally-focused technologies debuted in this, the BlueZero.

The B-class based car comes in three world-saving guises. There's the BlueZero E-Cell, an all-electric car designed primarily for town use, with a two-hour charge yielding a range of around 60 miles. It comes fitted with lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor providing 100 kW (136bhp) of power and a healthy 236lb ft of torque. It's pure electric power means there's not a jot of carbon coming out of the exhaust.

If your driving extends beyond a short commute then there's the E-cell Plus, which adds internal combustion to the E-cell's electric motor, creating a hybrid. The engine in question is the 3-cylinder job from the Smart Fortwo, meaning a 3-cylinder 999cc unit providing up to 71bhp. It means the BlueZero's range increases to nearly 400 miles, but at the expense of emissions, although the Smart's 103g/km isn't hugely troubling to the environment on the whole.

The third variant is the F-cell, with no prizes for guessing it's a fuel cell. It produces electricity via hydrogen and boasts the same performance as the all-electric version with no emissions. It appears Mercedes is undecided on which alternative fuel to commit too, as electricity (once thought as a dead-end due to its low range) makes a comeback with cars from the Smart right up to Ruf's Porsche 911-alike models getting volt-power.

One definite thing you can take from the BlueZero is styling hints for the next Mercedes B-class. While the premium mini-MPV hasn't been a massive success in the UK, other markets have really taken to it - especially the Europeans, with Brabus even tuning a B for the Bologna motor show earlier this month.

The BlueZero will be at the Detroit motor show in January, with the new E-class sitting more conventionally alongside it on the Mercedes stand.

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