Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive gets the ax ahead of electric car reboot

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Mercedes’ electric car push will start with a clean slate, as the little-known B-Class Electric Drive gets shoved aside.

Mercedes-Benz is making a major push for more electric cars, but the German automaker plans to start by discontinuing the electric car it already makes.

The B-Class Electric Drive (also called the B250e) is not long for this world, a company spokesperson confirmed to Automotive News. The little electric hatchback will be axed in the third quarter of this year, and will not be replaced. Instead, Mercedes will eventually launch another compact electric car under its new EQ sub-brand.

No one would blame you for not realizing the B-Class Electric Drive existed in the first place. Introduced in December 2013, it’s an electric version of the B-Class hatchback Mercedes sells in Europe. In the United States, the Electric Drive was initially only sold in a handful of states deemed sufficiently electric car-friendly by its maker, although it was later made more widely available.

Mercedes has sold just 3,651 B-Class Electric Drives in the U.S. since the car went on sale. An EPA-rated range of just 87 miles and an aging design limit its appeal. While it makes for a more practical alternative to Mercedes rival BMW’s similarly priced i3, the B-Class Electric Drive is short on range and the luxuries U.S. buyers expect from a Mercedes. The automaker didn’t exactly go out of its way to advertise its sole electric car, either. Mercedes will continue to sell gasoline and diesel versions of the B-Class in Europe.

The B-Class Electric Drive will likely be remembered as a stopgap measure at best, and a false start at worst. It will soon be replaced by a veritable fleet of electric cars. Mercedes parent Daimler plans to launch 10 all-electric models by 2022, and most of those will be sold under the new Mercedes EQ sub-brand, which will be devoted exclusively to electric cars. Daimler’s Smart division will continue to sell its Fortwo Electric Drive as well.

The first new electric model will be a production version of the Generation EQ SUV concept that first appeared at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. The SUV will launch in 2018, and at some point after that Mercedes is expected to launch a new compact model that will take over where the B-Class Electric Drive left off. Better luck next time, perhaps.