Mercedes-Benz Decides All U.S. S-Class Cars To Be Hybrids

882831500 Mercedes Benz Decides All U.S. S Class Cars To Be Hybrids

2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

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While our colleague Nelson Ireson was driving the (very un-green) 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG in Mexico this week, he heard an interesting item that’s much more along our lines.

It is: Mercedes-Benz plans to sell only hybrid models of the S-Class in the U.S. when the next generation car arrives, starting with the 2012 or 2013 model year.

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S400 Powertrain

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2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

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2009 Mercedes-Benz Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

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2009 Mercedes-Benz Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

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1904340479 Mercedes Benz Decides All U.S. S Class Cars To Be Hybrids

2009 Mercedes-Benz Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

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“strong consideration”

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mercedes-Benz North America spokesman Robert Moran declined to comment, saying only that the all-hybrid plan was “a strong consideration on the table now” but that it was “too early to share specific details on this.”

As of this year, the company offers the 2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid, a mild-hybrid S-Class that’s the only one in the U.S. fitted with a V-6 engine.

It is the lowest-priced S-Class, preserves all of the traditional S-Class luxury, and yet offers decent performance and a remarkable 27 miles per gallon rating.

Future S-Class plug-ins

The S400’s hybrid system is just the first generation, though. The next generation will reportedly add some ability to run in all-electric mode, and share components with a plug-in hybrid S-Class.

That plug-in hybrid was previewed by the Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid Concept, shown last fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which offers up to 18.5 miles of running on pure electric power.

That power comes from a 10-kilowatt-hour battery pack using lithium-ion cells. Once electric range is exhausted, a V6 engine (of unspecified size and power) plus a 60-horsepower (44-kilowatt) electric motor let the S-Class Plug-In run as a standard hybrid.

Mercedes-Benz claims fuel efficiency of 70 miles per gallon and acceleration from 0 to 62 miles per hour of 5.5 seconds.

Diesel hybrids too

The next generation of the Mercedes-Benz hybrid system also works with diesel engines, as previewed in the E300 Bluetec Hybrid on display at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month.

The E300 Bluetec Hybrid uses a 2.2-liter diesel four fitted with twin turbochargers that rate it at an impressive 204 horsepower, plus a 15-kilowatt electric motor that sits between the engine and a 7-speed automatic transmission.

Together, the diesel four and the small electric motor provide peak power of 224 horsepower, and Mercedes-Benz quotes fuel economy using the European test cycle of a remarkable 57.4 mpg.

S-Class stays gasoline

For the full-size S-Class, though, it’s been two decades since a diesel motor was offered in North America, and that’s not likely to change in the near term.

So the S-Class is likely to remain all-gasoline for the foreseeable future. That means smaller engines with hybrid assistance are the best way to improve fuel efficiency to meet stiffer 2015 regulations.

So within three model years, we may well see an all-hybrid S-Class range–with both V-6 and V-8 engines–including a plug-in version that can run up to 15 miles on electricity.

My, how the world has changed ….

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