Mercedes-Benz will build plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars in every segment

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 27, 2010

Over the next few years, we will be witnesses to the arrival of plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars from Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz unit in each segment.

Mercedes-Benz will be doubling its investment in green technologies in the next two years and will spend $1.4 billion in each of the next two years to develop batteries and fuel-saving engines. In the past three years, annual spending had averaged $700 million.

In an interview at the Geneva auto show, Thomas Weber, head of Daimler's r&d, said that Mercedes will put up a "flexible architecture" so that the right powertrain can be installed for each customer, whether it's a plug-in hybrid or pure electric fuel cell.

Mercedes also plans to add more efficient gasoline and diesel engines and to expand its electric options. For small cars, Daimler will sell electric versions of the front-wheel-drive subcompact A class, compact B class and Smart cars.

For mid-sized and large cars, the E-class and S-class vehicles and their derived coupes, will have plug-in hybrid and possibly electric powerplants.

Currently, Mercedes-Benz has a full-hybrid M-class crossover in its lineup. It's believed that the next vehicle to get a plug-in hybrid powerplant will be the E class, most probably next year.

Weber said that the C-class hybrid would arrive in a few years when that model is replaced. He predicts that in the next 10 years, sales of alternative-fuel vehicles will be "in the high numbers in some regions."

He added that the S class would have a 100% hybrid share in some markets, "perhaps in Europe." Weber is basing this forecast on the 20% take rate globally for the S-class hybrid -- the S400 sedan, which was launched last summer. [via autonews]

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