Used as a demonstration car, the A-Klasse uses the "production-ready" Zytek 55kW E-Drive electric powertrain. Specially developed to be fitted into vehicles weighing less than 1,700 kg (3,740 pounds), the E-Drive provides a maximum torque from 120 Nm to 160 Nm and reaches maximum motor speeds of 12,000 rpm to 13,000 rpm. Translated into speed, this means roughly 70 mph (112 km/h).
The A-Klasse gets its power from two air-cooled sodium nickel chloride battery packs, placed under the floor of the vehicle. They are enough to last about 120 miles (190 km) in a typical mixed drive cycle.
Zytek's conversion of the A-Klasse is independent of Mercedes Benz. The German manufacturer is currently engaged into developing the new electric smart, as well as the B-Klasse F-Cell. The latter, which will enter production in late 2009. The F-Cell system fitted on the B-Klasse is not, Mercedes said, the one developed for the 2004 A-Klasse, but an entirely new one.
Zytek began its EV adventure in 1998, with the unveiling of the Electric Lotus Elise, a remarkable display of technology in its time. It was followed by an electric MCC smart and a diesel hybrid version of the smart, this time commissioned by Daimler and first shown at the 2001 Frankfurt Auto Show.