When the next generation of Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans roll onto showroom floors in the coming years, a plug-in hybrid option will be with them, according to the bigwigs behind the luxury German automaker.
As reported by Thomas Weber, the head of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development, 'It makes a lot of sense to bundle the high-price tech option to the sort of customers willing to pay for this sort of thing." In response to the even "higher-priced" fully electric innovations being introduced in such upcoming vehicles as the Nissan Leaf, Weber concedes that more time is needed to develop the battery technology. As he puts it, " Our customers expect a certain range and a level of comfort, safety and space; such things lead to a certain weight and that won't mean a good [battery] range."
Early reports predict that the new generation of S-Class autos might be hitting showrooms as early as 2012. Thanks to expected improvements in weight reduction and aerodynamics, the hybrid S-Class is projected to return exceptional fuel efficiency. Some estimates suggest a fuel efficiency of 66 mpg.
Experts also predict that the new S-Class hybrid will be based off of the Mercedes-Benz Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid concept that debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show last year (pictured above). If true, the market version will likely come with a V-6 engine and deliver an all-electric range of about 18 miles. If you're keeping score, that's approximately 6 miles better than the current plug-in Toyota Prius concept.
Based off of the Vision S numbers, the S-Class hybrid can be expected to require a 4.5-hour plug-in time to achieve a complete recharge. Non-standard wall sockets may also be able to deliver a quick charge within 60 minutes.
If you're looking to achieve improved fuel efficiency on your next Mercedes-Benz, you'll be happy to learn that gas mileage will be improved across the board for all S-Class models. Beyond the hybrid model, upcoming traditional gas models are expected to deliver a 25-percent improvement over current gas mileage figures. Better yet, Mercedes-Benz also predicts a 10 percent improvement in engine power and 25 percent more torque.
More affordable S-Class models are also in the works. All next-generation models will incorporate V6 or V8 engines with direct-injection and start-stop technology.