Silvretta E-Auto Rally Underway

The fifth edition of the Silvretta E-Auto Rally started July three marking the fifth time that locally emission-free vehicles will cross the roads of the Austrian Montafon Mountains.

It is also the fifth time that Mercedes-Benz and smart will participate – and with six electric vehicles Mercedes will again have the largest fleet of the electric rally.

While the new B-Class Electric Drive will celebrate its debut in the mountains, the Silvretta Classic Rally will witness a revival: Mercedes-Benz said it is returning the legendary C 111 to the road for the Silvretta Classic Rally.

The Silvretta High Alpine Road in Austria’s Montafon region is considered one of the most beautiful panoramic routes in the Alps. From July three to five 2014 it will be the setting for the legendary Silvretta Rally that will feature some 150 vintage cars and 30 locally emission-free electric cars.

The newest member of the Mercedes-Benz electric car family participates in the rally for the very first time: the B-Class Electric Drive.

“This car doesn’t scream: Look here, I am electric. The B-Class Electric Drive rather impresses with comfort, safety, spaciousness and driving pleasure without compromises,” said Juergen Schenk, chief engineer for electric vehicles at Mercedes-Benz Cars. “It is simply a true Mercedes – and electric.”

Now in its second generation, Mercedes said the B-Class offers the ideal platform for alternative drives. Since 2010 it has been proving itself as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL powered by a fuel cell with customers in Germany, the US and Norway. Two of these customers are Klaus Ambacher and Klaus Ege. They will participate in the Silvretta E-Rally for the second time and have been driving the B-Class F-CELL as their company car for three years.

“The future for long distances lies in the fuel-cell technology’” both of them stated confidently.

While the Silvretta E-Auto Rally celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2014, it is the 17th edition of the Silvretta Classic Rally. The route through the Alps doesn’t become a racetrack; rather the drivers have to prove their driving skills with regard to constancy and reliability during the three-day drive through the mountainous scenery of Austria’s Vorarlberg state.

The classic cars and electric vehicles are led by two B-Class F-CELL cars, which will point the way over the mountain as lead No. “01″ vehicle.

With a total distance of 362 kilometers (225 miles), ascents of more than 2000 meters in altitude and slopes whose gradients in some cases exceed 15 percent, the Silvretta E-Auto Rally presents a challenging terrain for the drivers.

On each of the three days the teams will drive between 110 and 133 kilometers (68 to 83 miles) on the steep switchbacks of the Austrian Alps.

As like every year since the first Silvretta E-Rally, Daimler said it will again have the largest fleet in 2014. At total of six locally emission-free vehicles will be at the starting line this year.

The B-Class Electric Drive will celebrate its Silvretta debut – just before its official market launch in the US in mid-July. The model has been rolling off the assembly lines in Rastatt, Germany since April 2014. With a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and a maximum power output of 132 kilowatt, Mercedes said the course over the high Alpine road will not present any problems at all for the B-Class Electric Drive. The vehicle will be available in Europe by the end of the year.

In contrast, the B-Class F-CELL is almost an old hand on the route through the Alps. The fuel-cell vehicle impresses with a range of about 400 kilometers (248 miles) and a power output of 100 kilowatt. The fuel-cell technology scores points with long operating ranges and a refueling time of only about three minutes.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive also returns to the e-rally as well as the smart fortwo electric drive, which Mercedes said is an absolute must at the event. In 2012 and 2013, it was the market leader of all new electric vehicles registered in Germany.

Mercedes-Benz Classic added it will return the legendary C 111 to the road as part of the 2014 Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon. This research vehicle will be taking part in the race through the Montafon valley as a unique V8-engined variant. The C 111 with 3.5-litre V8 engine dates from 1970, one year after the gullwing sports car designed to test the Wankel rotary engine made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The research vehicle with pronounced wedge shape and gullwing doors has a body made of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) and is powered by a three-rotor Wankel engine. The revised version of the C 111 was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show the following year, now powered by a four-rotor Wankel engine.

To celebrate 120 years of motorsport history at Mercedes-Benz, the line-up at the Silvretta Classic Rally will, in addition to the C 111, include a 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Coupé driven by brand ambassador Karl Wendlinger, and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198).

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