In an effort to counter BMW's growing plug-in hybrid fleet, Mercedes has launched three new plug-in, petrol-electric hybrids to the Australian market. The Mercedes C350e sedan (and Estate wagon variant), the GLE500e SUV, and S500e limousine can all have their internal lithium-ion batteries charged from a 240-volt wall plug and have enough range for regular everyday city driving on electric power alone. A future E-class hybrid, too, will be "the most intelligent sedan in its class".
In a statement, Mercedes said the combination of petrol and electric power on the new cars is — at least for now — the best of both worlds. "Plug-in hybrids represent a key technology on our road to a locally emission-free future for the car. This is because they offer customers the best of both worlds; in the city they can drive in all-electric mode, while on long journeys they benefit from the combustion engine's range. Hybridisation also makes the internal combustion engine more efficient, and ensures more dynamic performance."
The new $75,300 C350e sedan and $77,800 C350e estate run a 155kW, 350Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine alongside a 60kW electric motor and 6.2kWh battery pack, all hooked up to a 7-speed automatic, which offers 31km of all-electric range with the peace of mind of a full petrol tank's travel distance if required, with fuel consumption rated at just 2.4 litres per 100km. Mercedes rates the combined petrol/electric output at 205kW/600Nm, and both models have pre-entry climate control and air suspension as standard.
The $124,900 GLE500e has, Mercedes says, "the power and refinement of a V8 engine" — and you'd be forgiven for thinking it had one with that '500' moniker — but instead mates a 245kW and 480Nm twin-turbo petrol V6 with a larger 85kW electric motor and 8.8kWh battery pack and the same 7-speed auto, pushing the car through the same 31km of all-electric range and with 3.3 litres' fuel consumption per 100km. Combined power is 325kw/650Nm, and the car can reach 130km/h driving purely under electric power.
At the top of the PHEV range, Mercedes' $319,715 S500e has exactly the same twin-turbo V6 plus 85kW electric motor and 8.8kWh battery as the GLE500e, but consumes just 2.8 litres per 100km and can dash to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds. All-electric range is 33 kilomtres. Being an S-Class, you can expect the most crazy and advanced technology of any road-going car — although it doesn't have the rumoured wireless charging that might possibly appear on next year's hybrid S-Class release.