Mercedes-Benz Fast-Tracking C-, E-Class Hybrid, S-Class Plug-In Hybrid Development

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Seeing as fuel economy and emission standards continue to grow increasingly stringent in markets across the globe, it isn’t too surprising to hear Mercedes-Benz is interested in fast-tracking development of its upcoming C- and E-Class hybrid models, theoretically allowing the company to launch both models within three years.

“We have a leading position in the premium segment concerning alternative propulsion systems and we will defend it,” Herbert Kohler, vice president of Diamler’s E-Drive and future mobility wing, told Automotive News at a recent press event in Abu Dhabi.

One part of defending that leading position, according to the report, is expediting the development of two new hybrid sedans. Automotive News suggests both a C-Class and E-Class hybrid are being pushed towards production. If all goes according to plan, both models are expected to launch in Europe in early 2013, and make their way to North American markets roughly six months afterwards.

Additionally, Mercedes is also planning to push the S500 Plug-In Hybrid -- previously shown as a concept at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show -- into series production by 2014. Daimler has yet to divulge what powertrain will be used for the production model, but it may well resemble that used in the show car. The S500 PHEV concept paired a 3.5-liter V-6 with a seven-speed automatic transmission, yet sandwiched a 44-kW (60 horsepower) electric motor between the two. A 10-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, located in the trunk, provided enough power to provide an EV driving range of roughly 18 miles. According to Benz, this combination returns an astounding 74 mpg when tested on the on the European combined cycle.

These three vehicles, along with Mercedes-Benz’s other alt-fuel projects (including the F-Cell fuel cell vehicle projects) are part of the company’s increase in alternative powertrain research. According to Kohler, half of Mercedes-Benz’s annual $5.6 billion research & development budget is allocated to such programs.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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