For 2010, the Mercedes-Benz S-class gains its first-ever hybrid powertrain, a clear indication that its maker is shifting from a strict diesel approach to efficiency and finally acknowledging the worth of hybrids as an essential step on the path to electric propulsion. What's more, the Mercedes S400 Hybrid is the world's first production hybrid automobile using lithium-ion batteries (the Tesla Roadster is powered solely by Li-ion batteries). Hybrid propulsion systems aren't anything new, of course, but they're still rare in the luxury class, where the Lexus LS600hL has been standing alone for the past two years.
Mercedes and Lexus systems wouldn't be more different if they had been designed on different planets. The Lexus approach adds some $30,000 to the price of the sedan, not to mention nearly 600 pounds, compared with a conventional LS460L. Included for those extra dollars and pounds are a four-wheel-drive system, a 221-hp electric motor, nickel-metal-hydride batteries, and a 5.0-liter V-8. Loaded to the gills, the LS600hL is Lexus's flagship sedan, designed to offer V-12 performance with V-8 fuel economy.
Mercedes has taken a decidedly different route - one that adds less weight and complexity.... Read full article