2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid
Hybrid S-class poised for U.S. market.
Mercedes is planning to offer a hybrid S-class starting in 2009. The S400 BlueHybrid, a mild hybrid powered by M-B's 3.5-liter V-6, boasts a lithium-ion battery co-developed with supplier Continental and described by Daimler R&D boss Thomas Weber as “a crucial breakthrough.”
Unlike Lexus's LS600hL, the S400 is not aimed at the performance market. Instead, it uses its hybrid drivetrain solely for the traditional aim of fuel efficiency. Mated in the style of a mild hybrid with a 20-hp electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, the V-6 will turn off while the car is stationary and kick back on when the driver wants the car to move. Under braking, the batteries are charged. The electric motor can't propel the S400 on its own but assists in acceleration.
The compact lithium-ion battery module is far more powerful than conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries. It is integrated in the car's cooling system to ensure optimal operating temperature.
BMW seemed miffed at the announcement, with executives pointing at the joint hybrid-vehicle alliance between BMW and Daimler. But this particular battery is a Mercedes development, and the carmaker holds 25 patents on it.
With internal combustion and electronic wizardry working together to produce 295 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, the S400 is capable of a 0-to-62-mph sprint in a claimed 7.3 seconds and will pull to a governed 155 mph--all while delivering 30 mpg on the European cycle (up from 23 mpg) in S-class comfort. Additionally, the S400 packages all the hybrid equipment under the hood, so neither passenger room nor cargo space suffers for the driver's conscientiousness.
Europe will get this hybrid in 2009, and a Mercedes spokesman confirmed that it will be offered in the U.S. later--we believe in 2010. If 30 mpg is not enough for you, and you can't picture yourself in a Prius, start hoping Mercedes offers the upcoming and even thriftier S300 BlueTec diesel hybrid outside Europe.