Last month, sales of the BMW i3 began in earnest in the United States, and next month the Mercedes B-Class Electric will hit dealerships. Priced similarly but designed to appeal to different segments, do you know which of these two EVs best suits you?
The BMW i3 has already been loudly lauded for its from-the-ground-up EV design, which includes a lightweight carbon fiber monocoque chassis and a 170 horsepower electric motor driving the rear wheels. By most accounts, the i3 is fast and fun-to-drive in a way that many other EVs aren’t. BMW also worked a number of eco-friendly materials, such as recycled bamboo, into parts like the doors and dashboard.
However, the biggest difference (and some might say, advantage) of the BMW i3 is the optional range-extender, which effectively doubles the driving range. The electric-only i3 is rated at 81 miles per charge, but with a range extender the i3 gets a 72-mile electric driving range, and another 78 miles with the range extender, for a total driving range of 150 miles. For those whom range anxiety is still a very real thing, the BMW i3 seems to be the way to go.
But the Mercedes B-Class has just that; class. You wouldn’t know it was an EV until you got real close, as it looks like any other Mercedes B-Class. It also has a comparable driving range, of about 85 miles, though early test drives reveal a more refined EV driving experience, where stomping the throttle won’t pin you to your seat.
However, the Mercedes B-Class does hold a small advantage with its 177 horsepower rating, and the battery pack and drive system were designed by none other than Tesla. It’s an electric car for people who don’t need to wear their environmentalism on their sleeve.
Both cars are priced right around $42,000 before tax credits, adding some old guard credibility to the EV movement, though it’s important to consider the future as well. While Mercedes has Tesla technology built right in, they’ve been openly critical of other aspects of the EV business. BMW, meanwhile, has reached out to Tesla to see about sharing some of that sweet Supercharger technology. It could go either way really, so which of these two EVs would you rather drive?