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Rise of Luxury Electric Cars: BMW i3 vs Mercedes Benz B-Class

Updated on July 29, 2014

Electric cars are gaining ground in the automotive market as they don't use any gas. This means that they both save money as well as contribute to the benefit of the environment. European luxury car manufacturers BMW and Mercedes Benz are both known for their high end vehicles that use gas pretty quickly, but they are starting to tap into the electric car market to target a specific group of consumers as well. The BMW came out with the i3 and the Mercedes has the new B-class. These two models are purely electric, using absolutely no gas and rely on batteries. Both the BMW i3 and the Mercedes B-Class are of the same tier of subcompacts and sell at about the same price of $43,000. They are both all-electric vehicles and have a range of 80 miles when it's fully charged, and each full charge taking about four hours. That's pretty much where a lot of the similarities end.

Appearance:

When you're talking about appearance, the i3 and the B-class are significantly different. The BMW i3 is a very tiny car, with whole 18-inches shorter than the popular Nissan Leaf while the Mercedes B-Class is longer lengthwise than the Leaf. They are also dramatically different in the way they are designed. The B-class looks like a normal four-door hatchback, with the body style and chassis inspired by its gasoline counterpart in Europe. The goal was to keep the styling as similar to the regular Mercedes lineup as possible. Meanwhile, the i3 is on the opposite end of the spectrum, as there is nothing else that looks like it. The color scheme is a two-toned sort of hipster look with half-sized rear doors and a limited trunk space. The rear seats are so tiny that you'd have to be a petite adult or a child to fit in the back.The adaptive LED headlights are also its strong suit and really elevate the car.

The varying sizes and design show that these two German luxury automakers are clearly targeting completely different markers. The BMW i3 is geared towards the young, hip, urban dweller who is environmentally conscious and wants to make that statement. Meanwhile, the Mercedes B-Class is basically a compact hatchback that's also targeted towards younger buyers, but also those with a small, growing family since it's such a versatile car. You can use it in a tight urban setting as well as fit a small child or two in the back seats, making it perfect for the small, hip family.

Technology:

The BMW i3 is doesn't weigh as much as other cars in its class and is the first vehicle to use carbon fiber reinforced plastic in mass market. It's also complemented with aluminum sub-frames, making it very strong and light. On the other hand, the Mercedes B-Class is as strong as any other car, however it's nowhere near the lightness of the BMW i3. The Mercedes B-Class is more than a thousand pounds heavier than the BMW i3. When it comes to the drive train, Mercedes uses a conventional front motor and a front wheel drive that's ironically supplied by Tesla motors. Everyone knows that Tesla is the forefront of electric vehicles so this gives the Mercedes Benz B-class a step into the door. On the other hand, the BMW i3's electric motor is at the rear of the vehicle, under the luggage deck.

Driving Experience:

Right when you open the door of the i3, it's pretty obvious that it's an electric vehicle. The cabin is unlike any BMW model and the interior is full of eco accents and recycled materials. It sort of reminds you of a high-end apartment loft that was converted from a vintage building. The woven seat fabrics and eucalyptus wood trim give it a very hip vibe that's also pretty high end. There are two flat-screen displays that look like they're floating above the dashboard, in a surreal sort of airy elegance. While the Mercedes B-class doesn't have much of a visual appeal, it does still resemble what's in the Mercedes CLA sedan. Yes, it's pretty high quality, but there's nothing that's extremely unique about it. What's unique about the interior is that the B-class has one extra seat, topping out at 5 seats, over the BMW i3's 4 seats. It also has very conventional rear doors for easy entry, which the BMW i3 doesn't have.

The i3 has a stiffer ride and has tiny tires that are perfect for efficiency, however you can also lose grip when you drive the car at higher speeds. The B-class does well at high speeds but isn't as agile when driving around town.

Whatever car you choose, you can be sure that they have the characteristics of the luxury brand that created them. With all the money you saved because you don't ever have to fill up at a gas station, you can get some new accessories to make your electric car even more unique. You could get some interior LED accents to make your car look quite a bit more hip at night too.

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