So you’ve got the moolah and want to make a green statement. Other than rigging up your large bungalow’s roof with plenty of solar panels, how else can you show how much you’re into the whole save the environment movement? Your car of course. The Prius is too plebian and the LS600h is too Japanese. Here comes the boys at Stuttgart to the rescue with the Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid.
The Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid is based on the S350 but adds an electric motor and also the first application of a lithium ion battery in a production car, for a combined NEDC fuel consumption of 7.9 litres per 100km (up by 2.2 litres per 100km compared to the S350) and emissions of 190g/km.
Because of the high-voltage electric components that have been added to the car, Mercedes-Benz engineers have added what they call a “7-stage safety concept”.
1) All wiring is colour coded and marked with safety instructions.
2) Comprehensive contact protection via insulation and newly developed dedicated connectors.
3) Battery is enclosed in high-strength steel housing. Battery cells are bedded in a special gel to dampen any knocks. Battery has a blow-off vent, a rupture disc and a separate cooling circuit. Battery conditions are continuously monitored for safety.
4) Separation of battery terminals, individual safety-wiring for all high-voltage components. In event of malfunction, the entire high-voltage system is switched off.
5) Active discharging of high-voltage system when ignition is off.
6) During accident, high-voltage system is quickly switched off within fractions of a second.
7) Continuous monitoring for short circuits.
The 3.5 litre V6 from the S350 now runs on the Atkinson cycle and is tuned to produce 279 horsepower (via a new cylinder head, different pistons and a modified camshaft and cam control) and is aided by an electric motor rated for 20 horsepower and a starting torque of 160Nm. Combined torque output for the petrol engine and electric motor is 385Nm, the equivalent of a conservatively-tuned 4.0 litre engine, so you could say the S400 deserves its badge.
Unlike other petrol-electric hybrids which typically use a CVT transmission, the S400 BlueHybrid uses the 7G-TRONIC seven speed automatic transmission. The electric motor also functions as a device for brake energy regeneration for the lithium ion battery, and a starter for the combustion engine, allowing start-stop ability for further fuel savings. The start-stop function is switched off in Reverse gear to prevent it from repeatedly turning on and off during maneuvers such as parking.
Look after the jump for a hi-res gallery of the S400 BlueHybrid.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid
Click thumbnails to view high resolution photo