Mercedes-Benz will produce 500 zero-emissions A-Class E-Cells and lease them to 'selected customers' around Europe. Sadly there's no mention of the Irish market at this stage.
Mercedes claims that the E-Cell makes no practicality compromises compared to the standard A-Class, because it houses the lithium ion battery pack underneath the car's 'sandwich floor'.
In the regular A-Class, that floor configuration leaves a space between the interior floor and the undercarriage, into which the engine can safely slide during a front-end collision.
So Mercedes has concocted a battery sandwich, if you will, leaving the boot and passenger compartment free. In addition, the low centre of gravity benefits handling, says the company.
The E-Cell's electric motor has a 95hp power output and 290Nm of torque from zero rpm. Mercedes claims a 200-kilometre range from the battery, which will charge in eight hours from a household socket, or three hours from a fast charging point.
It also includes a 'SmartCharge Communication' system, which automatically bills the user for the amount of electricity used, and can draw energy at times when it's cheaper; plug it in for 24 hours, and it will draw charge at night, when unit cost is lower.
The 500-unit production run begins shortly (autumn 2010) though Mercedes says nothing of how much leasing costs will be, or who qualifies to take part.