Mercedes will launch a European-market natural gas version of its B Class hatchback at the Paris Motor Show this September.
The B 200 Natural Gas Drive is the first B-Class model to make use of the “Energy Space” modular body concept: a partial double floor beneath the rear seat bench creates space to accommodate one large and two smaller natural gas containers, holding a total of 125 liters of natural gas (corresponding to approx. 46.3 pounds).
Thanks to this packaging method, the five-seater model is able to retain the generously proportioned luggage compartment for which it is known.
In natural gas mode, consumption of the 156 horsepower B 200 Natural Gas Drive is just 4.2 kg/100 km – corresponding to CO2 emissions of 115 g per kilometer. As a result, emissions are around 16 percent lower than those of the B 200 BlueEFFICIENCY with fuel engine, which offers equal performance. The new model belongs to efficiency class A and meets the EURO 6 emissions standard, which is not due to come into effect for all fuel-powered vehicles until Sept. 1, 2014. But the model not only spares the environment – it is also good on the wallet: converting the consumption of the B 200 Natural Gas Drive into the energy equivalent of fuel, the price per kilometer comes out at around 50 percent lower than the fuel costs of driving a fuel model.
Performance is also on a similarly dynamic level: the B 200 Natural Gas Drive can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h, and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.1 seconds. The B 200 Natural Gas Drive works according to the monovalent+ principle. This means that its engine is basically operated using natural gas. For emergencies, there is a small 12-liter fuel tank on board. In the event that the natural gas tank should ever run dry, the vehicle switches over automatically, and imperceptibly, to unleaded fuel operation. And because drivers are not able to select fuel mode themselves, the B 200 Natural Gas Drive is taxed more favorably in Europe as a natural gas vehicle. The range in natural gas mode is around 500 kilometers (310.7 miles).
The trip computer menu in the instrument cluster has been modified for the B 200 Natural Gas Drive in order to display the respective operating mode. In addition, a fill level indicator and remaining range are included for fuel mode. In natural gas mode, the driver has access to all of the regular trip computer functions.
Visually, the B 200 Natural Gas Drive also differs from other B-Class models in terms of a few details. Its main characteristics include the distinctive front bumper with strip-form LED daytime driving lights.
According to Mercedes-Benz, vehicles fitted with natural gas drive are not only particularly environmentally friendly, they are also sustainable. This is because in addition to mineral natural gas, they can also be operated using biogas. Even synthetically produced gas can be used: this is produced using “excess” energy from solar power plants or wind farms, and in the future could help to resolve the storage problems encountered with alternative power generation. In this respect, Mercedes-Benz considers the B 200 Natural Gas Drive to be emission-free.
The B 200 Natural Gas Drive will celebrate its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show and will be optionally available with manual transmission as well as the 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission. It is due to arrive in European dealerships at the beginning of 2013.
As it stands, Mercedes-Benz has no plans to distribute this natural gas version of the B Class in North America.