STUTTGART, GERMANY – Mercedes-Benz intends to solidify its position as a leader, if not the leader, in electrified propulsion as soon as 2017.
Next year, Mercedes will begin series production of a GLC-based fuel cell plug-in hybrid that can cover up to 50 km in pure electric mode.
At this year’s Paris Motor Show in September, it is expected to unveil a conceptual electric car platform with a range of 500 km on a single charge and the “foundation” of the all-electric Mercedes vehicles in the future.
Paris will also see the launch of the fourth generation smart fortwo, making it the only car company in the world to offer all its models with internal combustion engines or electric propulsion.
The company also plans to offer 10 hybrids next year and an expected new S Class premium luxury sedan with a 50-km range on battery alone, thanks to a new 48-volt system.
Also for 2017, Mercedes-Benz will offer a new family of gasoline engines with unprecedented fuel economy.
This and more was revealed at the recent Mercedes-Benz Tech Day in Stuttgart and billed as “the road to the future”.
Wilko Stark, head of strategy for Daimler, said quite simply, the rules of the road are changing.
Although the market for electric cars in 2016 has increased 10 times since 2000, only about one in 300 is currently buying electric, meaning 99 per cent of buyers were not sold on electrification.
As a result, Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, is investing €45 billion to make electric vehicles “more attractive to buyers.”
The GLC hydrogen fuel cell being set for preview in Paris has a power stack that is 30 per cent smaller but estimated to be 40 per cent more potent than its current fuel cells.
But the big deal is that Mercedes-Benz expects the new stack to be less costly, because it uses 90 per cent less platinum and the bonus is the hydrogen tank can be filled in about three minutes.
At the symposium, it was noted Mercedes-Benz has already covered more then 12 million miles of fuel cell testing or the equivalent of 300 trips around the world.
The first we will see of the new initiative in Canada will be two new plug-in hybrids.
To be sold as a 2017 model will be the GLE 500e with a BiTurbo V6 (328 hp, 354 lb/ft of torque) with 8.7 kWh lithium-ion battery (114 hp, 250 lb/ft) for an expected combined 436 hp and 479 lb/ft of torque.
That’s enough to go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.3 seconds. But on the green side, the combined fuel rating is 3.3L/100 km with an all-electric range of 30 km.
To be sold as the 2018, the GLC 350e combines a 2.0-litre turbo gasoline engine (207 hp, 258 lb/ft of torque) with electric motor/8.7 kWh lithium battery (114 hp, 250 lb/ft) for an expected combined 315 hp and 413 lb/ft of torque using 4Matic AWD and a nine-speed transmission.
The automaker said the model would accelerate from 0 to 100 km in under six seconds with a fuel rating of just 2.9L/100km and an electric only range of about 34 km.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the day had to do with the decision to opt for a 48-volt power system, which we may see as soon as next year on the new S-Class premium sedan.
It can improve efficiency by up to 10 per cent by providing extra motive power from startup thus saving on fuel consumption, but also adds another very useable 118 ft/lb of torque.
By offering four times the power of the conventional 12-volt without additional safety or voltage requirements and because of the higher power, the engine can be switched off more often and longer.
Also shown was a drive-in charging station Mercedes-Benz is working on plus new ways of energy recovery. The company also plans to start using particulate filters in its gasoline engines as it already does on its diesel engines to cut emissions.
Stark said the company expects to cut CO2 emission by 20 per cent and diesel NOX emissions by 80 per cent to meet European standards in 2017.
“Yes, diesel engines do have a future,” he said.