Mercedes Announces Hybrid S-class for 2009

By dancurranjr On September 15th, 2008

Hybrid cars are quickly becoming a popular way for drivers to save at the pumps and help save the environment. While the long-term savings offered by a hybrid vehicle when compared to a normal gasoline engine are debatable, hybrids continue to thrive.

Japanese automakers have been offering hybrid cars for many years now and one of the first hybrids to hit the market was Toyota’s Prius. German luxury carmakers like BMW and Mercedes have yet to produce a production hybrid vehicle. Mercedes points out that it instead focused on diesel engines and has diesel engines that are comparable on fuel efficiency to electric hybrids.

Diesels may sell well in Europe, but in America, the diesel engine is not a popular choice. Due partly to these concerns, Mercedes finally announced that it will bring a hybrid vehicle to the U.S. and Europe. Business Week reports that Mercedes will offer a hybrid version of its S-Class luxury sedan which will first be available in Europe in June of 2009.

Mercedes reports that the hybrid S-Class will be available in the U.S. and China in September 2009. The hybrid S-Class will get overall fuel economy of about 29.8 miles per gallon. For comparison, Honda recently announced its Insight would offer fuel economy of around 71 miles per gallon.

Mercedes thinks that its average affluent buyer isn’t ready for a Prius or an Insight, but a hybrid S-Class would be appealing and would help improve how the Mercedes buyer feels about owning such a large car. The exact price of the hybrid option hasn’t been determined by Mercedes at this time. Mercedes Sales and Marketing Director, Klaus Maier, says that the hybrid S-class would likely carry a premium over the stock S-class of around $14,000. Add that to the starting price of $88,000 and you get an idea of the sales price.

Mercedes reportedly doesn’t use a hybrid system similar to what is common in the Toyota Prius with large batteries and the ability for short bursts of full-electric driving. The Mercedes system uses a lithium-ion battery that is slightly larger than a typical car battery. The hybrid battery stores under the hood as well, meaning that S-class owners will see no reduction in interior or trunk space by choosing the hybrid option.

The electric hybrid motor will supplement the six-cylinder gasoline engine producing 279-horsepower during acceleration to help improve fuel economy. The Mercedes hybrid system will also use regenerative braking to help recharge the battery.

Mercedes also points out that its lithium-ion battery is one of the main innovations of its hybrid system. The new battery technology allows the complete hybrid system in the S-type to add only 165 pounds of total weight to the car. Mercedes also makes clear that its lithium-ion battery system has no potential to overheat.

The S-class is the first hybrid in what Mercedes envisions as a complete line of more environmentally friendly luxury vehicles. The luxury carmaker plans to offer one new hybrid vehicle each year after the debut of the S-class hybrid.

Source: Daily Tech

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