The first hybrid vehicle in its line, the latest S400 Hybrid, will be released by Mercedes-Benz in the third quarter of 2009, but the latest saloon will be the first of many hybrids as Mercedes is intending to vend gasoline-electric variants of its three primary model lineups.
Mercedes was reportedly saying that an E-Class Hybrid is currently under study and could be here within a year or two.
Hybrid vehicles, rather than diesels, are the direction of the future according to Mercedes, seeing a vital role the former will play in the increasing corporate average fuel economy ratings and CO2 emissions requirements in the United States, although it has not totally abandoned diesel technology, not yet, at least.
Included in other initiatives the company is currently exploring is the development of a new-generation of ultra-efficient forced-induction powerplants that merge the benefits of both diesel and gasoline engines.
For instance, the forthcoming S400 Hybrid combines a 279hp (205kW) 3.5-liter V6 unit and a 20hp (15kW) electric powerplant for an optimized fuel economy of 29.7mpg (7.9-liters/100km) and emission figures of 190g/km.
It comes with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission with special settings for hybrid models, and it achieves a sprint rate of 0-62mph (100km/h) in 7.2 seconds.
A similar drivetrain-equipped E-Class should perform better with much lower fuel consumption by virtue of its smaller curb weight.
What complicates matters is the fact that an E-Class that comes with a lower price tag and a more fuel economical performance would most probably steal sales from the S-Class variant, which is the most profit-yielding model right now.