Plug-in hybrid vehicles are increasingly the mobility of choice for many people. For short drives around the city or urban areas, plug-in hybrid can be switched to all-electric mode for a zero-emission driving experience. However, current plug-in hybrids can only offer up to 50 km (31 miles) of all-electric range.
Mercedes-Benz is hoping to break the status quo by not just surpassing the 50-km barrier, but also offering up to 100 km (62 miles) in pure electric range. Quite a number of plug-in hybrids still offer 30 km of electric range, while there is an increasing number of models that are engineered to reach 50 km.
As divulged by Ola Kallenius, head of Daimler group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development, the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLE PHEV will be the first plug-in hybrid to offer a 100-km range, as per WLTP cycle.
To achieve such range, a large-capacity battery would play a significant role. The third generation of Mercedes’ S-Class hybrid -- the Mercedes S 560 e -- comes equipped with a 13.5-kWh battery that offers up to 50 km (31 miles) of all-electric range. An increase in capacity doesn’t necessarily a larger battery, as the usage of more advanced materials – such lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt (Li-NMC) cells – is also vital.
When it introduced the all-new GLE SUV, Mercedes said a plug-in hybrid version would follow. Nonetheless, Mercedes has to hurry, as BMW is set to debut its fifth-generation eDrive system in 2020, allowing its plug-in hybrid to offer 100-km electric range.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the next-gen GLE to the global public at 2018 Paris Motor Show, and plans to commence its sales in the United States and Europe in early 2019, as well as in China in spring 2019. The Mercedes-Benz GLE is available with a number of powertrain options. This includes a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine with EQ Boost, which makes the GLE 450 4MATIC a mild hybrid. Matched to a 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, this engine is tuned to provide up to 270 kW (367 hp) of output and up to 500 Nm of torque. The EQ Boost provides an extra 16 kW (22 hp) of output and 250 Nm of torque.
Diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the GLE will be available at a later date, all also employing the nine-speed automatic transmission.
The latest-generation GLE boasts of elegant proportions defined by a long wheelbase, short overhangs and large, flush-fitted wheels. Its sculptured face is marked by an upright radiator grille in an octagonal SUV interpretation. This grille is flanked by Multibeam LED headlamps as well as by a bonnet with two powerdomes. The sides of the GLE feature wheel arches with prominent liners, a wide C-pillar, pillared roof rails and chrome surrounds of the windows. The rear section is defined a powerful shoulder muscle, reflectors with lower position as well as a chrome-plated underguard.