HEADY HYBRID DAYS
MERCEDES-Benz is banking on three plug-ins to reignite interest in hybrids. The trio will be here by the end of this year — expect prices to range from $85,000 to $300,000.
The big issue for Benz is to get buyers to spend considerably more on a vehicle that will take a long time to recoup the initial cost. To date no European maker has succeeded in selling a plug-in hybrid to the masses.
Regardless of brand, hybrids promise reduced emissions and improved performance from lower-displacement engines.
They succeed but the extra cost of going green — and the battery limitations — still ensure plug-ins are best suited to commuters doing less than 30km each way.
That’s a large chunk of the Australian population and Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman Jerry Stamoulis believes buyer acceptance is now high enough to justify introducing the new line-up. “It won’t suit everyone but buyers who live within 30km of work will have zero local emissions with no loss of performance,” he says.
First up will be a C350e combining a 60kW/340Nm electric motor with a 2.0litre four-cylinder (155kW/ 350Nm) with official fuel use of 2.4L/100km, sprint time for 0-100km/h of 5.9 secs and instant off-the-line torque surge.
Benz reveals the GLE wagon (previously known as the ML ) at this week’s New York motor show. Carsguide will have a comprehensive C350e drive next week.