The cutting edge of natural gas vehicle (NGV) technology has been established by Mercedes-Benz. A long-term commitment to NGV development dating back to the 1980s allows the automaker to leap ahead of the competition in the 21st century. Mercedes-Benz takes the next step toward perfecting NGV drive systems with the B200 Natural Gas Drive premiering at the upcoming 2012 Paris Motor Show. This four-door production model may feature a small gasoline tank but the B200 Natural Gas Drive runs almost entirely on natural gas. Researchers at Mercedes-Benz have incorporated ideas like the monovalent+ principle and ENERGY SPACE architecture into a superb eco-friendly vehicle.
The B200’s drive system uses an 115kW engine capable of running on natural gas as well as gasoline during emergencies. Mercedes-Benz used the term “monovalent+ principle” to describe the drive system as almost entirely reliant on natural gas. The design team included a 12-liter gasoline tank in the B200 Natural Gas Drive though the onboard computer will not use gasoline unless natural gas reserves equaling about 125 liters are exhausted. Drivers cannot switch between gasoline and natural gas, which takes away the temptation to fall back into old habits. The automaker notes that the B200 Natural Gas Drive qualifies for higher tax credits in the European Union and the United States because natural gas is used for almost every mile.
Mercedes-Benz also incorporates proprietary ENERGY SPACE architecture for the first time in the B-Class family with the B200 Natural Gas Drive. This design aesthetic uses a double floor beneath the rear seats to store three natural gas tanks. Families need not worry about packing for weekend trips as the ENERGY SPACE design maintains plenty of leg room and cargo space. The design team also incorporated an instrument grouping in the central console that includes an advanced trip computer. Drivers can access vehicle range, CNG refueling maps and vehicle performance reports with the touch of the screen.
Visitors to the Paris Motor Show should be impressed by the fusion of performance and efficiency in the B200 Natural Gas Drive. Mercedes-Benz estimates that the B200 can hit a top speed of 124 miles per hour with a 0-60MPH time of 9.1 seconds. The B200 travels up to 311 miles on natural gas alone with a range easily exceeding 500 miles when gasoline reserves are used. This NGV also exceeds European Union emissions standards established for September 2014 by reducing emissions 16% compared to the B200 BlueEFFICIENCY. The B200 Natural Gas Drive symbolizes the balancing act of Mercedes-Benz heading into the next generation of green vehicles.
The B200 Natural Gas Drive sounds like the Swiss army knife of alt-fuel vehicles based on the announcement by Mercedes-Benz. This model set for a 2013 release not only uses natural gas and gasoline but can operate on synthetic gas or biogas created by power plants. The onboard computer only uses gasoline as a last resort, cutting back on fuel costs and keeping commuters from creating unnecessary emissions. A more effective angle for Mercedes-Benz is to point out that the price per mile is about 50% lower than a comparable vehicle running on gasoline.