Mercedes-Benz has confirmed pricing and specification for a trio of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) which New Zealand customers can now order.
Last week, the electric cars ferried journalists between the Mercedes-Benz Australia headquarters in Mulgrave, Melbourne, and the Sandown Park venue where E-Class driving exercises were staged.
A charging station has been built at Mulgrave with 100 roof-mounted 250W photovoltaic panels generating 100kWh of electricity a day. Three 9.2kWh Mercedes-Benz Li-ion energy units and four wall chargers can charge four cars three times a day.
The three models being launched in New Zealand are the C 350 e, the GLE 500 e 4MATIC sport utility and S 500 e luxury saloon. From early 2017 the E-Class range will expand to include the E 350 e model.
Apart from subtle badging differences and a flap on the rear bumper where the charging cable is plugged in, few exterior details identify e models.
In common across the three is a petrol engine, an electric motor inside the transmission bellhousing that takes the place of the torque converter and also adds a wet clutch, a smaller fuel tank, a high voltage lithium-ion battery which requires a small reduction in cargo space and a separate cooling system for the battery.
Low emissions, performance and the ability to enjoy all-electric driving while avoiding the range anxiety of a dedicated electric vehicle are advantages of a plug-in hybrid. Mercedes-Benz believes this technology is best suited to larger vehicles operating in a mix of driving environments so, at this point, the C-Class is the smallest plug-in model.
The C 350 e will be available in sedan and estate configurations and combines the familiar 155kW 2-litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine with the electric drive system.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 2.4 litres per 100km and the all-electric range is up to 31km.
Mercedes-Benz says it takes 3.1 hours to fully charge the battery from a domestic 240V supply while the 16-amp wall charger unit cuts the charge time to 1.5 hours.
The C 350 e saloon is priced at $95,900 and the estate version is $98,900.
For the GLE 500 e 4MATIC the powertrain combines a V6 petrol engine and electric drive to provide combined cycle fuel economy of 3.3L/100km, an electric range of 30km and a top speed in EV mode of 140km/h.
Charging times are 4.1 hours from a standard household supply and 1.9 hours from the 16-amp wallbox.
The S 500 e is a plug-in hybrid, long-wheelbase luxury saloon with the same 245kW 3-litre V6 petrol engine and electric drive system as the GLE 550 e. Its all-electric range is rated at up to 33km and consumption is 2.8 litres/100 km, which is equivalent to emissions of 65g CO2/km.
The GLE 500 e is priced at $149,900 and the S 500 e is $255,000. Colin Smith