Toyota and its luxury subsidiary Lexus are undoubtedly considered to be hybrid pioneers. In terms of plug-in hybrid, however, the Japanese are currently taking the sausage off the bread from the German premium manufacturers, especially from Mercedes, The Stuttgart take off. "We will have ten plug-in models on the road in less than two years, and we will launch one such model on the market every four months," promises Thomas Weber. The head of development sees plug-in hybrids as a key technology. The S and C class are already on the market. China will receive the hybrid technology in the extended version of the C-Class (V 205). The new GLC, successor to the GLK, also gets the eco drive. The market launch of the plug-in hybrid version 350 e 4Matic is planned for early 2016. The new E-Class (W 213) followed in the same year. The Kombi S 213 as a part-time Stromer is still waiting until 2017. The same applies here: in China, the Stuttgart-based company offers their plug-in power in the extended version (V 213), as well as in the GLC. Both models are also built there. This is important because otherwise the customer will not receive any financial bonuses from the state.
At least in Europe, the plug-in project should not only be combined with petrol engines. Diesel engines are also used - exclusively four-cylinder. The electric ranges, according to the plan, are to grow from now 35 kilometers to 50 and later even to 70 kilometers. A clever package and more powerful lithium-ion cells are prerequisites for this. Mercedes is aiming to simplify electric motors. There is currently a 60 kW electric machine in the C-Class, while the S-Class and GLC have an 85 kW. The standard should be 90 kW, each combined with the 9-speed automatic developed in-house.
Mercedes must achieve an average CO2020 fleet emissions of 2 g / km by 99 due to its weight classes. "This cannot be achieved without electrifying the drive trains," says Weber. Neither the compact models nor the racing cars from AMG are exempt from this. The next generation of front-wheel drive architecture (MFA) will receive a plug-in package as well as the high-performance models from the tuning subsidiary in Affalterbach. There, however, you think about a so-called “performance” plug-in. The driver here - once again - is China, which is preparing a law that will only allow individual vehicles to have a certain maximum emissions limit from 2020 onwards. Otherwise there is no approval in the country.
Another problem for car manufacturers is to make the plug-in hybrids (PHEV = Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) appealing to the customer. This should be done primarily via driving dynamics and finance. "Driving pleasure is convincing in a plug-in hybrid, thanks in part to the torque characteristics of the electric motor," says Wilko Stark, Head of Product Strategy at Mercedes. A C 350e in hybrid mode sends up to 600 Newton meters to the rear axle. Mercedes also wants to offer state-of-art technology when it comes to comfort. Inductive charging could be ready for series production by 2017. The car only has to drive exactly over a plate located in the floor and charging is done without contact. At least at home, handling cables would be a thing of the past.
Things get more difficult when it comes to money. "Experience shows that the customer is not willing to pay an eco bonus", Stark knows from experience and surveys. Mercedes can conceal the additional technical effort in the high-price segment by offering the S-Class as a plug-in hybrid with a V6 engine exactly as expensive as the version with an eight-cylinder petrol engine. The Stuttgart-based company cites the comparable mileage of the models as an argument. However, this mixed calculation cannot be maintained in smaller segments. The currently low fuel price, which significantly increases the payback period, has also proven to be counterproductive. A buying brake. The situation is better in some other countries. "In some cases, there is already a positive TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), primarily driven by tax legislation," says strategist Stark. The owner of an S 500 e in London has a financial advantage of around 40.000 euros over a period of three years.
Author: Michael Specht / SP-X