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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - E-class

Mercedes Australia to go hybrid in new E-Class

Blue wonder: Mercedes’ E300 BlueTec Hybrid can achieve 4.2 litres per 100km, making it about 50 per cent more efficient than current rivals.

Facelifted Mercedes E-Class to bring super-efficient hybrid from second quarter 2013

Mercedes-Benz logo26 Nov 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

MERCEDES-Benz Australia has confirmed that it will get its first hybrid model in its facelifted E-Class range that arrives locally about the second quarter of 2013.

The updated model is set to be revealed at the Detroit motor show in January ahead of its roll-out around the world.

Despite previous misgivings about the benefit of hybrid models when compared with its cheaper diesel variants, Mercedes-Benz Australia has ticked the box for the diesel-electric E300 BlueTec Hybrid, saying the business case stacks up for the most fuel-efficient car in its class.

However, the company’s senior manager of corporate communications, David McCarthy, said the jury was still out on an S-Class hybrid, saying that, although a hybrid version of the big limo would be on offer to Australia when the new model arrives, no decision had been made to include such a powertrain locally.

“I am not sure there is a compelling reason to do it, but we are looking at it and, if the business case stacks up, we will do it,” he said.

“At this point it is too early to say. There will be one on offer to us, but we are not interested in putting a car in the product range purely and simply for bragging.

4 center imageFrom top: Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTec Hybrid wagon E400 Hybrid S400 Hybrid.



“With E-Class hybrid, we feel quite comfortable that the business case is there.” Mercedes-Benz unveiled two E-Class hybrids – the diesel-electric E300 BlueTec Hybrid and petrol-electric E400 Hybrid – at the Detroit motor last January.

The more-efficient diesel version is expected to be the model chosen for Australia.

This current-generation E300 BlueTec Hybrid went on sale in Europe in sedan and wagon guises about May.

No pricing has been announced for Australia, but expect a significant premium over the $101,005 E250 CDI Avant.

The E300 BlueTec Hybrid will be pitched against mid-sized luxury hybrids such as the new $122,900 BMW ActiveHybrid 5, Lexus GS450h range – which starts at $99,900 and tops out at $121,900 – and $99,900 Infiniti M35h.

Compared with the four-cylinder diesel-electric Mercedes E300 Hybrid, all its direct hybrid competitors employ bigger six-cylinder engines, giving them a performance advantage, but at the expense of fuel economy.

The Benz consumes 4.2 litres per 100 kilometres, 0.9L/100km less than the E250 CDI and 1.9L/100km less than the E350 CDI.

The 3.5-litre Lexus GS450h consumes 6.3L/100km on the combined fuel cycle test, the BMW ActiveHybrid gets 7.0L/100km and the Infiniti M35h 6.9L/100km.

It is unclear if the facelifted E300 Hybrid will get any fuel economy or performance improvements before coming here, although Mr McCarthy concedes the updated E-Class range will incorporate both cosmetic and technical changes.

Currently, the E300 Hybrid is powered by the E250 CDI’s 150kW/500Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine with a 20kW/250Nm electric motor mounted in the seven-speed automatic transmission and hooked up to a 19kW lithium-ion battery pack.

It can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds, about the same as the E250 CDI but slower than the 5.9 seconds claimed for the Beemer ActiveHybrid and Lexus GS450h, and the Infiniti’s 5.5 seconds.

The new Benz hybrid will easily qualify for the Federal Government’s luxury car tax discount for cars that can achieve better than 7.0L/100km, but that will be no advantage against diesels within the E-Class line-up that already make the grade.

Mr McCarthy said the volume of E-Class sales – about 1000 this year – made it more logical to include a hybrid variant, compared with the small-volume S-Class.

He said he expects the E300 Hybrid to achieve incremental sales, attracting people who wanted the technology.

“Purely as a fuel economy argument, it is difficult to make,” he said.

“There is a price premium, but there is also a desire from some people who want the technology. You have to balance all that.”

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