Mercedes-Benz launches hybrid offensive

Mercedes-Benz is filling a gap in its model lineup with two models that the automaker says are the most economical luxury-class vehiclesin the world. New to the E-Class offering are the E 300 and E 400 BlueTec HYBRIDs.

The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID combines fuel economy with impressive performance.  Its4-cylinder diesel engine produces204 hpand 369 lb.-ft of torque.Combined with an electric motor producing 27 hp184 lb.-ft., this little powerplant is capable of 231 hp and a stunning 553 lb.-ft. of torque.Better yet. Unofficial fuel consumption estimates are as high as 56 mpg using the European standard.  That translates to about 45 mpg here.

The V6 gasoline-fueledengine in the E 400 HYBRID produces 306 hpand 272 lb.-ft., and is also supplemented with 27hpand 184lb.ft.from the electric motor. The consumption figures based on the American CAFE standard are: City 24 mpg, Highway 31 mpg, Combined 27 mpg.

“With these two E-Class models we are now continuing our comprehensive hybrid offensive. The modular technology opens up a quick way for us to complement other model series with hybrid models”, explains Professor Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler Board Member for Group Research and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “With a clear focus on the different requirements of global markets, we are able to offer precisely the models which our customers want. The E-Class hybrids provide a clear reduction in consumption as well as a very impressive driving experience: they represent hybrid motoring at the premium level.”

Available as a sedanand wagon, the new models don‘trequire passengers to compromise when it comes to space,either in the cabin or the luggage compartmentsinceno changes to the vehicle body to accommodate the hybrid module are required.

Thedriving experience includes an engine start/stop function to conserve fuel while standing still and regenerative braking to capture and store the energythat would normally be lost during braking.   Hard acceleration will benefit from the boost effect of the electric motorand the energy stored in the lithium ion battery.  Purely electric driving is also possible and Mercedes has hinted at a feature called “sailing function“.  Details are forthcoming.

The hybrid module is flexible, allowing its usein other model series, such as the S 400 HYBRID.  The new hybrid models will premiere at the Detroit AutoShow and will appear on the market during the 2012 calendar year. The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is initially planned to be launched on the European market, while the E 400 HYBRID will be made available on the American market first, followed by other countries such as Japan and China later.