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Detroit 2010: Mercedes Confirms Two New Hybrids for North America

S-Class Plug-In Hybrid and E300 BlueTec Hybrid coming in 2011 and beyond

 |  Jan 11 2010, 12:01 PM

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With the launch of two hybrid models in 2009, Mercedes-Benz has announced it will add two more hybrids to its lineup starting in 2011. More impressive, is that neither is a run-of-the-mill type of hybrid.

Due out first is the E300 BlueTec Hybrid, based on the new E-Class model. It will be a hybrid and as the name suggests, will use Mercedes’ BlueTec diesel technology. This may be the first diesel-hybrid to launch in North America. It will get an impressive 40 mpg.

Following that model, Mercedes plans to launch a plug-in hybrid S-Class, similar to the one foreshadowed with the Vision S500 Plug-In Hybrid, which debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show last year.  Thanks to a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a 60-hp/184 ft-lb electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, the car is capable of getting an amazing 73.5 mpg! Possibly more shocking is that the car doesn’t sacrifice performance, with a 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds. Additionally, the electric motor will be able to power the car emissions-free for 18 miles.

Already launched are the S400 Hybrid and the ML450 Hybrid. The S400 Hybrid was the first Mercedes hybrid to go on sale and is also the first mass production automobile to use a lithium-ion battery. Priced at $87,950 it uses an electric motor and 3.5-liter gasoline V6 to produce 295-hp, while getting mileage of 19/26 mpg – an improvement of 26 percent over the S550 in the city. Despite its high-tech battery pack, the S400 Hybrid is a mild-hybrid, which limits its fuel economy.

The second hybrid model from Mercedes is the ML450 Hybrid 4MATIC. A lease-only model, for either 36 or 60 months, at either $659 or $549 per month, the ML450 is the first two-mode hybrid (like the Toyota Prius) from Mercedes. The ML450 uses a 3.5-liter V6 engine and two electric motors to make 335-hp and 381 ft-lbs of torque. Unlike the S400 Hybrid, it will be able to operate exclusively on electric power for short periods of time. Its fuel economy is rated at 21/24 mpg (city/highway), which is roughly the same as the ML350 Bluetec diesel at 18/25 mpg. This is also a 46 percent improvement over the fuel economy rating of the similarly-powerful ML550.