HEADY HY­BRID DAYS

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Confidential - Craig Duff

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.

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