The B-Class: A Tesla Collab Yielded the First Electric Car for Mercedes

While the Mercedes B-Class wasn’t the most exciting EV in the world, it did have a Tesla motor, and it paved the way for future EV work from the brand.
Written by Alex Reale
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Jun 25, 2022
Mercedes
is a top luxury brand for a reason: it consistently churns out beautiful, fast, and well-appointed cars. 
But this clout in the automotive world has been one-dimensional, as Mercedes is largely powered by gas. The new
Mercedes-EQ
line is only the second set of electric cars that the company has presented to the public so far, and the first wasn’t quite as thrilling. 
Jerry
, the
car ownership super app
, takes a look at the specs and capabilities of that initial Mercedes EV attempt, the B-Class, and the help it got from friends at Tesla.

Specs

In 2014, Mercedes released a proper electric vehicle for the first time: the B-Class. Deemed a “multipurpose vehicle” by
Top Gear
, this chunky minivan-esque vehicle sported a 28 kwH lithium-ion battery and got a quaint 85 miles to the charge. 
In an admission of the limits of EV technology of the time, Mercedes included a “Range Plus” option, which would allow drivers to tack on an additional 20 miles to their trip, but only sparingly, as this option was a real battery-strainer.
The B-Class went 0-60 in 7.9 seconds, which wasn’t too shabby for a 4,000 pound five-seater. And the 2017 version cost approximately $41,000—fairly reasonable for a high-end brand with a novel offering. Top Gear points out that “it wasn’t as cool as the BMW i3 nor as cheap as the Nissan Leaf,” but it was fine for a middling EV for the time.
Though it only lasted for about three years and wasn’t terribly well-liked, it did have one feature that turned heads: a Tesla motor. 

B for B-Class, not billions

Mercedes and Tesla began working together in 2007, says Top Gear. Daimler (Mercedes’s parent company) was impressed with this “young and dynamic company,” according to a
Tesla press release
, and wound up buying a 10% stake in the California company in 2010. The partnership yielded some interesting entanglements. 
Top Gear points out that the Model S still sports some Mercedes console material, and the now-defunct B-Class got itself a Tesla drivetrain. A vehicle powered by a strong up and comer in the EV world seemed like a great call in the mid-10s, but Daimler played its hand wrong at the macro-level. Top Gear notes that Daimler sold its Tesla shares in 2014 for a grand-sounding $780 million, but anyone paying attention during the last eight years is wincing: had Daimler held onto the Tesla shares, they’d be looking at billions.

Keep moving forward

How does the B-Class compare to today’s EVs? It wouldn’t stack up.
Consumer Reports
called it “clumsy,” and now that Lucid has cracked 500 miles to the charge in range, no one would take 85 miles seriously. But everyone has to start somewhere, and Mercedes’s second attempt more than clears the bar. So perhaps the B-Class can be thanked for being the shoulders upon which the new EQ will stand.
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