Official: Mercedes-Benz Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

The Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID has an electric drive with components that show just how versatile the intelligently organized hybrid systems of the Mercedes-Benz are, in addition to its scalable performance range. The hybrid module of the S 500 has a design like that of the S 400 HYBRID with its disc-shaped and compact electric motor with 15 kW of power. The electric drive of the S 500 though offers three times more power than that of the S 400.

Because of this, it is possible to integrate the S 500’s hybrid module with the housing of the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission. Thus the S 500, and possibly the S 400, has enough space in the interior similar to the S-Class.

Future models are expected to adapt to this particular system architecture. Daimler AG Chairman and Mercedes-Benz Head, Dr. Dieter Zetsche says that the Vision 500 Plug-in HYBRID is the latest milestone in its goal to have zero-emission vehicles. Safe and grand, this S-Class model gives superior driving performance yet it has less fuel consumption compared to other compact cars, he adds.

This demonstrates that its top models are able to mix interest for cars with environmental concern, Zetsche further says. Dr. Thomas Weber meanwhile, a member of Daimler AG’s Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, says that while it will be some time before the S 500 will enter production, engineers are working full time to make sure that the integration measures are present and guarantee that each of the components are able to meet the exacting demands of everyday driving.

He adds that the important technologies are already there to create such a car, and this is the reason why there is a chance it will be part of the next S-Class generation. According to Weber, the company is ensuring that its development work complements a full-coverage infrastructure to make the most out of the state-of-the-art drive system.


The architecture of the hybrid system on this vehicle is one of a kind. The S 400 for instance has a lithium-ion battery that is compact, delivers 0.9 kWh, and can be held in the engine compartment. For the S 500 on the other hand, the lithium-ion pack gives high performance and more than 10 kWh but it needs more space in order to be installed.

Thus in the S 500, the battery is placed in the boot which is just behind its rear seats. The good news is that it was put above its rear axle resulting in the vehicle having its weight distributed better. Since the petrol tank is still there, it helps especially when there are plans to travel long distances. Furthermore, since the tank has been placed in a location that is protected, safety is ensured even in crashes. The combustion engine of the S 500 and its hybrid module have clutch decoupled to it.

Since it continues to follow the modular concept, the S 500 Plug-in HYBRID’s powertrain design is like that of the S 400 HYBRID. A feature that is specific to this system is the clutch that has been integrated between the electric motor and combustion engine. As the name implies, when running solely under electricity, it decouples two components to result in highest possible level of efficiency. With it being integrated to the converter housing, it does not use up any extra space.

Another significant difference of the S 500 Plug-in HYBRID and other standard hybrids is the plug-in battery. This allows it to be charged even at charging stations and thus, it can reach a maximum of 30 kilometers even on electric power.

With a 20 kW charging capacity, the whole rapid charge cycle barely takes an hour. Standard household socket though, which has 3.3 kW, can take as long as 4.5 hours to recharge especially if the battery has been completely drained. This version also includes an onboard charger which has been placed just behind its side boot wall. This controls all the processes related to recharging and is even protected against possible issues like voltage surges, voltage reversal, and even short circuits.

The charging unit also makes sure that the battery is kept safe since it monitors everything from the voltage, the charging time, and the charging level. For this experimental vehicle, all the electrical components weigh 215 kilograms while the lithium-ion battery weighs around 130 kilograms.

Still this is less compared to the standard NiMH battery that while it offers the same power, weighs between 180 to 200 kilograms. While the car is being driven, the hybrid module inside gives it that added energy with the use of regenerative braking. This is the term used to mean energy that is recovered when the vehicle is braking. The clutch improves its efficiency as it can complete the regeneration process without the engine experiencing any drag losses.

The hybrid module delivers 44 kW/60 hp of power and when combined with the lithium-ion battery, can make the vehicle reach 30 kilomteres even on pure electric power. This is enough to travel to different cities, with the S 500 providing for a comfortable and quick ride without the problem of having local emissions. Being a hybrid, it has a petrol engine that when used, boosts the power already provided by the electric motor to increase the speed or to allow it to go up steep roads.

Prior to the clutch being closed, its electronics enable it to match the engine speed with the rotational speed of the hybrid module. The engine can then be activated smoothly without the driver being aware of it.

In addition, there is a complex interaction between the hybrid module and the combustion engine which results in different functions that can enhance its agility, as well as achieve lower emissions and fuel consumption. Much like the hybrid module of the S 400 HYBRID, the one in the S 500 also has the ECO start/stop function.

What it does is increase the support that the electric motor gives to its combustion engine when undergoing high-consumption acceleration phase, allowing it to increase driving pleasure and safety. This is not a new system as it its feasibility has been proven, though in a different set-up, in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Press Release

Mercedes-Benz Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

The Vision 500 Plug-in HYBRID is a new milestone on our path toward zero-emission mobility," says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "It is a luxurious and safe S-Class that offers superior driving performance while at the same time consuming less fuel than current compacts. All of this shows that our top models will also be able to combine automotive fascination with responsibility for the environment."

"Although it will take some time before this model can go into series production, our engineers will be working full steam to carry out the necessary integration measures and ensure that all components can meet the tough everyday demands required of a luxury long-distance saloon," says Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

"We've already got all the key technology we need for such a dream car, which is why I see it being included in the next generation of the S-Class. The important thing now is that our development work be accompanied by the establishment of a full-coverage infrastructure that will allow the potential of this innovative drive system to be fully exploited."

The electrical drive components of the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID demonstrate the versatility of Mercedes-Benz's intelligently organised set of hybrid systems, which has a widely scalable range of performance. The hybrid module's design does not differ much from the compact, disc-shaped 15-kW electric motor of the S 400 HYBRID, even though it is three times as powerful. As a result, the hybrid module can be elegantly incorporated into the housing of the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, allowing this model variant as well as the S 400 HYBRID to retain the S-Class' spacious interior. Future model generations will orient themselves on this system architecture.

Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID: Compact full hybrid system architecture Whereas the extremely compact lithium-ion battery in the S 400 HYBRID (0.9 kWh) can be housed in the vehicle's engine compartment, the significantly higher-performing lithium-ion unit in the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID (over 10 kWh) requires more installation space. The battery is located behind the rear seats in the boot. The lithium-ion battery's location above the rear axle provides crucial benefits, since it ensures that the vehicle has a balanced weight distribution and that the petrol tank remains adequate for long-distance cruising. In addition, the protected position of the tank ensures it is as safe as possible during crashes.

Additional clutch decouples the hybrid module and combustion engine In accordance with the modular concept, the powertrain design for the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID is basically the same as that for the S 400 HYBRID. One system-specific attribute is the presence of an additional clutch integrated between the combustion engine and the electric motor. This device decouples the two components in the pure electric drive mode, thereby ensuring the highest level of efficiency in the latter. Moreover, because it is fully integrated into the vehicle's converter housing, the clutch does not take up any additional space.

Electrical outlet as a filling station: Powerful plug-in battery Another key difference between the S 500 Plug-in HYBRID and conventional hybrids involves the plug-in battery, which can be charged at charging stations, thereby enabling the S 500 Plug-in HYBRID to travel up to 30 kilometres on electric power. The rapid charge cycle takes less than 60 minutes with a charging capactiy of 20 kW. A standard charge cycle at a conventional household socket with 3,3 kW takes about four-and-a-half hours to recharge a completely discharged battery. The model is also equipped with a compact onboard charger: Housed behind the side boot wall, this unit controls the recharging process and is protected against short circuits, voltage reversal, and voltage surges. The charging system also protects the battery by monitoring voltage, the charging level and charging time. The total weight of the electrical components in the current experimental vehicle is 215 kilograms, whereby the lithium-ion battery weighs approximately 130 kg. That's much less than a conventional NiMH battery with the same capacity, as the weight of such batteries ranges from 180 - 200 kg. The vehicle's hybrid module also provides additional energy when the car is in motion through regenerative braking - the recovery of energy when braking. Here, the clutch enhances efficiency as well, as it enables complete energy regeneration without engine drag losses.

Range of up to 30 kilometres with all-electric driving The high-performance battery and the 44 kW/60 hp hybrid module enable the vehicle to drive up to 30 kilometres purely on electricity. That is completely sufficient for many trips within cities, where the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID is quick and very comfortable without producing any local emissions. The petrol engine automatically adds its power to that of the electric motor when travelling at high speeds or driving up steep inclines. Before closing the clutch in such cases, the vehicle electronics synchronises the engine speed with the hybrid module's rotational speed so that the engine is activated extremely smoothly without the driver noticing. What's more, the hybrid module's sophisticated interplay with the combustion engine enables numerous additional functions that positively impact fuel consumption, emissions and vehicle agility. Like the system employed in the S 400 HYBRID, the hybrid module in the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID also comes with the ECO start/stop function. This feature also enhances safety and driving pleasure because of its boost effect, which has the electric motor providing powerful support to the combustion engine during the high-consumption acceleration phase. This system has already proved its practical viability in a slightly different configuration in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Extensive electronic safety and control components The lithium-ion battery not only serves as an energy storage device for the electric motor in the S 500 Plug-in HYBRID; it is also linked via a DC-DC converter to the 12-volt on-board network, which provides power to standard consumers such as the headlamps and various comfort devices. To ensure a consistently high level of electrical efficiency, the voltage transformers are water-cooled via an additional low-temperature circuit. Special power electronics are required for operating the three-phase AC electric motor in the high-voltage direct current grid, and the inverter for this task is housed in the engine compartment. Because the power electronics system itself is heated by the electric current thus created, it too is integrated into the low-temperature cooling circuit. Mercedes-Benz employs standardised components for the power electronics system as well, enabling them to be efficiently combined with different electric motors and battery types across all model series.

On the road to plug-in hybrids: Diesel-hybrid concepts An important milestone on the road to plug-in hybrids is the recently unveiled Vision E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID diesel hybrid. Like the S 400 HYBRID and the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID, it is based on the Mercedes-Benz modular hybrid concept. This near-series vehicle study combines a new 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine with the 15 kW/20 hp hybrid module that is also used in the S 400 HYBRID, but which here also enables pure electric driving. This drive system configuration enables the Vision E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID to travel 100 km on only 4.5 litres of fuel (preliminary value). This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 119 grams per kilometre with an output of 165 kW/224 hp and superior torque of 580 - 600 newtonmetres (combined in both cases), more or less the same performance as today's six-cylinder diesel engines. Exhaust gas treatment is handled by the combination of an oxidizing catalytic converter, a diesel particulate filter and BlueTEC mit AdBlue injection. The Vision E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID thus also has the potential to meet the world's most stringent emission standards.

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