It seems that Mercedes-Benz is considering making the next generation S-Class a 100% hybrid line-up. It would help portray the company as an eco-aware automaker as well as help with the company’s fleet-wide fuel efficiency average figures. The S-Class has also been the model that traditionally showcased the latest forefront of technology and thus Mercedes-Benz executives feel it should be used to shout about the company’s fuel efficiency technology – hence the standard hybrid engine line-up.
Now we probably won’t even know about this so prematurely if it were not for frustrated American dealers that don’t agree with this move and have complained in an interview with Automotive News. The US dealer argument is that American customers are not perceived as ‘true performers”. “The most important thing in the American market — regardless of hybrid, lithium or electric cars — is that we Americans are different than any market and we are going to want those gasoline engines. For S-Class buyers, the goal is not gas mileage,” said Tommy Baker, chairman of the Mercedes-Benz dealer board. Baker operates a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Charleston.
I don’t completely agree with Baker though – I’m sure Mercedes-Benz is not talking about tiny 1.8 litre engines for S-Classes supported by electric motors. If it fits the buyer profile, there should be completely no issue for Mercedes-Benz to continue to have V8 and V12 engines but with start-stop technology and hybrid motor assist. Look at BMW’s ActiveHybrid offerings – do you think the X6 ActiveHybrid sounds anything NOT like a “true performer” with X6 M-beating torque thanks to its 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 mated to an electric motor?
The smaller engined models like the S300 sold here in Malaysia is not offered in many parts of the world anyway, so Mercedes-Benz can develop truly efficient hybrid powertrains mated to inline-4s (just an example) for these non-American offerings and still maintain the S-Class as a hybrid-only vehicle.
The current S-Class only comes with one hybrid model – an S400 which uses a 3.5 litre V6 mated to an electric motor, hence the S400 moniker, representing the extra power boost provided by the electric motor. It is also the only V6 S-Class sold in the US – the rest are V8 and V12 only. Not even the S350 is sold there.