Which alternatively-fueled car is going to be the winner? An all-electric model, like the Tesla Roadster? An EV with a gas-driven power generator, like the Volt or the F3DM? Or perhaps a fuel cell vehicle, like the FCX Clarity? Mercedes, it seems, is hedging its bets and going with: all three.
All three, however, will look the same on the outside. BlueZERO (no, it’s not an energy drink, even though it sounds like one) is the name of the new concept’s general framework; the three different models will be the BlueZERO E-CELL (all-electric), E-CELL PLUS (EV with an onboard generator), and F-CELL (fuel cell). The E-CELL and F-CELL will appear at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show, while the E-CELL PLUS is still in the development stage.
Besides sporting a sleek, aerodynamic design, the BlueZEROs promise to deliver when it comes to driving range. The E-CELL will get up to 120 miles on a 3-4 hour charge; the E-CELL PLUS will go 60 miles on electric and 370 miles with fuel. The F-CELL should get 248 miles on a tank of hydrogen.
If you think about it, this is kind of like a grand green car experiment. All the variables are held constant (the cars all have essentially the same parts), except for the power source. As long as Mercedes puts equal effort into each BlueZERO (and we have no reason to suspect it would not), customer satisfaction can be rated as a function of technology type. I’m curious to see how it plays out.
written by Nick, December 18, 2008
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