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Mercedes-Benz electric car premieres at 2013 New York auto show

Plug in for fuel. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Plug in for fuel. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, a fully electric vehicle, was introduced during the 2013 New York International Auto Show. It has an estimated range of 115 miles. (March 27, 2013) Credit: Nancy Borowick

If you’re planning on heading to the New York International Auto Show (it runs through Sunday, April 7), you’d be well-served to visit the Mercedes-Benz’s display.

This past week, the German automaker took to its makeshift stage and premiered its first-ever fully electric vehicle to the world. It’s still there and you can’t miss it; the cute hatchback sticks out like a sore thumb among the sporty, mostly high-end silver and white AMG vehicles brought for the rest of its display.

Mercedes does have experience producing battery-powered electric vehicles through its Smart car brand, but never has an electric vehicle gotten the luxury Benz badge. It’s based on Mercedes’ B-Class platform, which first appeared as a conventionally powered vehicle in Europe in 2005 and has not yet been introduced in the States. The B-Class will only be available to U.S. consumers as an electric car. It’s  to hit dealerships early next year.

The battery-powered electric engine in the five-seat car will have a 115-mile range, more than 134 horsepower and 228 lb.-ft. of torque. It’ll help the car go from standing to 60 miles per hour in less than 10 seconds, reach a top speed of 100 miles per hour and achieve a range of 60 miles from just two hours of charging on a typical U.S. outlet.

Mercedes execs say the car will deliver the same “exhilarating” driving experience their customers have come to expect. But they also touted the vehicle’s “dynamic Mercedes design, with powerful, tense lines and finely styled details” in a statement, even as it appeared decidedly unsexy amid the gullwing sports cars and high-powered convertibles elsewhere in the display.

Nonetheless it’s an exciting announcement from the luxury automaker, and one that continues the sector’s push into the electric segment. German rival BMW also showcased an electric vehicle at the Javits Center, and though Audi didn’t bring its A3 e-tron to the show, the company did unveil a production version of the electric vehicle earlier in March at the Geneva International Motor Show.

But if you were expecting something more sporty from Mercedes, stay tuned: The company said it plans an SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive in the near future.

Click here for photos of the B-Class Electric Drive.

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