2015 Mercedes-Benz C 350 e SF 1

We can expect Mercedes-Benz Malaysia to continue where it left off in 2015, and the year has begun with a bang with the launch of the GLC, GLE and GLE Coupe yesterday. Earlier, we reported on new models that can be expected this year, with the charge led by the facelifted W176 A-Class as well as the all-new W213 E-Class.

A stronger push towards diesels is also being explored, as shown by the debut of the GLE 250 d 4Matic, and so it was only natural for us to ask MBM’s vice president of marketing, Mark Raine, about potential developments on the hybrid front during the conversation we had with him at the launch of the three SUVs.

Given that the company has been granted an extension on import duty and excise tax exemptions for its hybrids, the question was obviously if MBM had any plans to expand the product portfolio beyond the two models it is currently offering, namely the Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid and W212 E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, both of which are locally-assembled at its plant in Pekan.

Raine said that since the company now had the assurance of that extension from the government, it was looking into further plans for hybrid models. “At the moment, we’re just looking at our strategy and product portfolio to see where hybrid models makes sense, and look at how we can expand our production plant capability even further,” he said.

The news about the C 350 e Plug-In Hybrid set to be locally-assembled in Thailand for the domestic market prompted us to ask if the model was being considered for Malaysia. At the international media drive for the car in San Francisco last year, MBM had said that there were no plans to introduce the car here. Had its arrival in the Kingdom altered that view?

It turns out that it has. “We’re exploring the possibility of the C 350 e Plug-In Hybrid, as well as other models,” Raine said. The car has to be locally-assembled to obtain the necessary tax reliefs, but the proximity of a production base close to these shores has undoubtedly helped pitch that possibility along.

“Throughout Southeast Asia, we have local CKD production (in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia), and we have a close affiliation between all the components in the network. One of the things that we look at as a company is if we do go ahead and introduce something as a localised product, will it be easier for the other markets (in the region) to follow? Thailand having the C 350 e Plug-In Hybrid is a good basis on which we can build on, and so, yes, it makes it easier,” he stated.

He added that any plans involving PHEVs needed to be meticulously explored. “It’s not just about briinging the car in. The crucial element is the infrastructure in the country, whuch we only have limited input on, and so that needs to be carefully thought out. We of course have a wallbox for customers to install in their home, but an infrastructure beyond that is needed.”

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The particular W205 C-Class variant is powered by a M274 DE 20 AL 2.0 litre petrol engine with the same output tune as the regular C 250, with 208 hp and 350 Nm for numbers. Working together with an 80 hp/340 Nm electric motor, combined power output for the car is 275 hp and 600 Nm.

A high-voltage lithium-ion battery with a total capacity of 6.38 kWh provides the C 350 e with an all-electric range of 31 km. The battery can be recharged from an external power source in around 1.5 hours via a wallbox or through a 230 volt/16 ampere 3.7 kW single-phase public charging point.

Alternatively, it can be tanked up via a domestic power socket, with a charge time of around two hours running off a 230 volt/13 ampere 3.0 kW single-phase supply. The engine can also juice up the battery to its maximum while on the go, though the commute has to be long enough to do so.

GALLERY: W205 Mercedes-Benz C 350 e Plug-In Hybrid