2009 Mercedes-Benz B-Class – Click above for high-res image gallery

Here in the United States, Mercedes-Benz's product portfolio starts off with the C-Class sedan. Those familiar with the alphabet may realize that there are at least two available letters before 'C' that would theoretically allow the German automaker to offer something a bit less expensive before graduating up the ranks to the likes of the E-Class and S-Class, in all their assorted variations.

Wouldn't you know it, Mercedes has seen fit to fill those two pre-C-Class slots with an A- and B-Class across the pond, and we've been hearing rumblings for quite some time that one of these models might make its way Stateside before too long. Those rumors continue today with this report from Automotive News, which suggests that a compact car and a small SUV may soon be in the offing in the U.S.

Mercedes-Benz plans to launch the next version of its B-Class in Europe in 2011, and that's the likely candidate for conversion to be sold here in the States. Included amongst the powertrain options will reportedly be some kind of fossil fuel alternative, perhaps either an electric version or one powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

So, when might we expect all this to go down? Depends. Says Joachim Schmidt, sales and marketing chief at MB, "The behavior of Americans depends on fuel prices. Nevertheless, we see a trend also toward fuel-efficient cars."


Related Gallery2009 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req'd]