42 kW vs. 36 kW: So does this mean the Mercedes will have slightly less range than the Toyota's 110-mile average? Not necessarily. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1. The Mercedes is a more aerodynamic car and sits lower to the ground. Once you start going above 50 miles per hour or so, aerodynamics matter more, and this should help the Mercedes perform more economically than the Toyota, especially on the freeway.

2. Seeing as it appears Tesla was part of the engineering of this Mercedes from Day 1 as opposed to it being an engineering after-thought, it should be able to optimize the weight of the car better. I would not be surprised to see the Mercedes be at least 200 lbs lighter than the Toyota. This should compensate for the smaller battery in the Mercedes.

All in all, I would not be surprised to see the Mercedes equal or better the Toyota's typical 110-mile average range, despite the slightly smaller battery. My guess is the Mercedes could average 120 miles, which would put it almost on par with the base Tesla Model S.

I didn't take any pictures of the Tesla-based Mercedes interior but I looked at it carefully and it looks just like any other Mercedes B-Class car, which is sold in Europe and Canada. In my view, it is reasonably pleasant. The driving position is great and it's easy to get in and out of the car, thanks to the car being a little bit tall just like the Ford C-Max.

What about the Chevy Volt comparison?

I have driven almost 21,000 miles in the General Motors ( GM)Chevrolet Volt, and I have also driven almost every other electric and plug-in electric car in the market, cumulatively thousands of miles.

In my view, it takes a lot of commitment to drive an electric-only car. You have to constantly think about the remaining range, especially in the context of an unscheduled trip or re-routing coming up.

In my view, as long as the number of available electric charging stations is too low to not having to think about it, a plug-in hybrid car is far more realistic than an all-electric car. This is where the Chevrolet Volt comes in. The Volt is in most relevant ways a zero-compromise car. It gives you 25-50 miles of pure electric drive, after which you can drive another 340 miles on gasoline. Refuel at any time, as necessary. Nothing to worry about, ever.

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