Teutonic fuel-sipperSlowly but surely the German automakers are warming up to plug-in vehicles. They've been slower than American and Asian companies to adopt the technology, preferring to rely more on diesel to increase fuel economy, but burning diesel will always remains dirtier than going electric, especially as the power grid keeps getting cleaner over time. So it's great to see Mercedes-Benz unveil the new C350 plug-in hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show this year.
The C350 PHEV will be offered as a sedan in North-America, and as a sedan and wagon in Europe. The electric range won't be nearly as long as the new Volt, for example, but at 31 kilometers (19 miles), it'll still be long enough to cover many people's daily needs, keeping the gas engine as a backup for longer trips.
Mercedes says fuel consumption will be 2.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers for both versions (wagon and sedan). CO2 emissions should be 48 grams (49 grams for the wagon) per kilometer.
An interesting feature to squeeze more efficiency out of the driver, rather than the car, is an haptic feedback accelerator pedal:
-If, when driving in electric mode, the driver’s foot meets a point of resistance on the accelerator pedal, this is an indication that maximum electric performance is being delivered. If the driver continues to depress the accelerator beyond this resistance point, the combustion engine will kick in.
-A double impulse from the ECO Assist function signals that the driver should remove their foot from the accelerator pedal in order to switch off the combustion engine and decouple it from the drive train. Assuming that the driver does what the double impulse suggests, the intelligent engine management system of the C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID will vary the deceleration mode between unpowered (sailing) and recuperation, using data from the car’s radar systems as its basis.
As usual with Detroit Auto Show announcements, no word on pricing yet, but this being a Mercedes, it probably won't be cheap. Still, if you're going to buy a pricey Germany luxury car, and many people will regardless of what we think, it's better if it a plug-in hybrid like this.