Mercedes has given us more information about its BlueZERO trio of concept cars. I'll be able to see it in person in Detroit in January, but in the meantime, here's what we know about it: A single architecture designed to be modular so that three different drivetrains can be used. The E-CELL version is battery-electric, the E-CELL PLUS is similar but has a small internal combustion engine to act as a range-extender and the F-CELL is a hydrogen fuel cell model. Read on for more details.

All these models feature battery packs based on the latest lithium-ion technology. This new battery technology has decisive advantages over conventional battery types, among them very compact dimensions, significantly higher performance, excellent reliability and a long operating life. The common components used in the modular system also include the compact, permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, which operates at a maximum of 13,280 rpm. It develops a peak output of 100 kW and a continuous output of 70 kW. Its peak torque is 320 Nm, while the continuous torque is 180 Nm. The maximum torque is available from the first revolution of the electric motor and exceeds the figure achieved by a current V6 petrol engine at 2500 rpm.

The battery has a capacity of 35 kilowatt hours (kWh) and is located in the middle of the vehicle, under the passengers in the "sandwich floor". This protects the battery in case of accident, and since that's the most expensive thing in the car, that's a good thing.

The BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS (the plug-in hybrid version) has a range of up to 370 miles, of which 93 miles are in electric mode. The NEDC fuel consumption is 62 mpg, but this figure can be misleading - if you drive less than 93 miles, the gas engine (a 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder turbo) might never turn on.