2009 Detroit Show: Benz Concept BlueZERO

January 10, 2009

Mercedes-Benz has an idea of what its zero-emissions future will look like--and it's going to take the form of the Concept BlueZERO, a small hatchback with big interior room and three different eco-friendly powertrains.

The front-wheel-drive BlueZERO is a single vehicle architecture, Mercedes says, with a modular design that sports more interior room than the average large car. Though it's just 14 feet long, it has room for five passengers and more than 17 cubic feet of luggage.

The powertrains for the BlueZERO ride beneath a sandwich-style floor like those used on the Euro-market A-Class and B-Class, both of which the BlueZERO will likely replace in the Benz lineup. They include an E-CELL electric powertrain with liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries produced by Daimler AG and a driving range of 125 miles; an F-CELL fuel-cell version with 250 miles of driving range; and a range-extended E-CELL PLUS powertrain that could have a range of 375 miles, 60 of them driving on battery power alone. All three can scoot to 60 mph in about 11 seconds, and all have a limited top speed of 93 mph.

Benz claims a 30-minute recharge for 50 miles of driving; the range extender in the E-CELL PLUS is a 1.0-liter turbocharged engine.

Mercedes promises to put a limited number of fuel-cell vehicles in civilian hands this year, and makes a similar promise for electric vehicles starting next year. It also promises that the BlueZERO concept will have passenger safety equal to the cars it builds today, thanks to its unique construction.

More photos behind the jump--and we'll bring you more from the show floor of the 2009 Detroit auto show starting tomorrow morning.


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