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Mercedes primes Australia’s first diesel hybrid

Green guide: The Mercedes-Benz E300 hybrid will launch here next month from $109,900.

Diesel-electric Mercedes-Benz E300 here next month


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14 Jun 2013

MERCEDES-BENZ will introduce Australia’s first diesel-electric hybrid next month, when it launches the E300 BlueTec Hybrid sedan.

Not only will it be a trendsetter, it will also undercut its petrol-electric hybrid arch rival – the BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid – by a handy $13,000, with a pricetag of $109,900 plus on-road costs.

Furthermore, it is poised to become the most economical, lowest emission large car on the market, using just 4.3 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

The company is confident the car will become a mainstay in the range – but still a niche seller – after it was originally rejected due to a high initial projected price.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific car division manager Horst von Sanden, prolonged discussions with Germany eventually resulted in a positioning that will give the car a chance to make traction here.

The E300 BTH could also be a harbinger of coming green initiatives from Mercedes-Benz. However, it will assess its sales performance here before further eco models wearing the three-pointed star are announced.

While no volume expectations will be divulged, the number is believed to be well under 10 per cent of the 1000 to 1300 E-Class sales Mercedes achieves annually.

“It was a question that we initially debated, ‘should we bring it in?’ because initially when we talking to Stuttgart there was quite an excessive price tag on it,” Mr von Sanden told Australian journalists this week.

“Firstly, as an innovation leader, we wanted to bring it in, because we believe its outstanding technology is a huge statement of what we can achieve with the technology.

“We worked on the pricing. We believe that there are customers who are prepared to pay that kind of price, because it’s not excessive anymore, and to have a benchmark vehicle in terms of fuel consumption and environmental credentials.

“So whilst I wouldn’t dare give you a number at this stage – how many can we sell? I don’t know – but it is worthwhile to test the market, and I think the market might be surprised how many customers take that version.”“It is guilt free luxury. With 4.3L/100km that’s less than what our Smart car consumes.”

Asked whether the E-Class hybrid is here to simply test the waters, Mr von Sanden said the full support of the company is behind the program becoming a permanent fixture.

“I think saying ‘toe in the water’ would not do it justice,” he remarked.

“But I just can’t tell you how many we will sell. I’m sure we’ll sell a reasonable number of cars, but we don’t know if it will be huge volumes or small volumes. But I can tell you the car is here to stay.“The senior manager of corporate communications, David McCarthy, added that Australian luxury car buyers are ready to take the next step towards more sustainable motoring.

“113g and 4.3L/100km – less than a Smart, and with no compromise in luxury, safety or performance.

“So we feel confident. We’ve worked really hard to get that vehicle here, we’ve priced it as keenly as we can, so hopefully buyers will buy it.”

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