Mercedes-Benz Enters the Luxury Hybrid Marketplace
After a struggle to sell new hybrids, the automotive industry is starting to show a solid rebound over the past few months. As a matter of fact, a solid 9% hybrid sales increase in June and a modest 2% gain in March has the gas/electric cars outperforming other vehicle segments.
Some of the strength in hybrid sales can be related to fresh new products on the market with fair, affordable price points. Ford's introduction of the new Ford Fusion hybrid (MSRP $27,270) coupled with the recent releases of the new Toyota Prius ( MSRP from $22,000) and Honda Insight (MSRP from $19,800) have drawn many consumers into showrooms to take a peak
It seems that the lower price of gasoline in recent months has not made a major impact in the sale of hybrids. Many analysts were professing that the hybrid market was dead as long as gas was cheap. It appears that appealing new hybrid models with fine tuned technology are appealing to a significant segment of buyers.
All of this has to be good news for Mercedes-Benz, who is launching two hybrids this year that it will be selling in North American showrooms. A hybrid version of the wildly popular S-Class luxury sedan started production in Germany last month. The S400 (pictured above) is selling first in Europe before making its U.S. debut.
The Mercedes S400 BlueHybrid electric components are powered by a new, smaller more efficient lithium ion battery coupled with a 3.5L V6 gasoline engine. If the production model follows suit with the concept I saw at the Chicago Auto Show, the battery pack is a lot more compact and mounts under the hood instead of taking up trunk space.
Also on the hybrid drawing board for Mercedes is the ML450H SUV which is expected in showrooms before the end of this year. The vehicle is being built right here in America in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County Alabama.