Mercedes-Benz Board Member Discusses Future Of Plug-In Hybrids & Non Plug-In Hybrids

JUL 5 2015 BY MARK KANE 19

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350 e 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350 e 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz is now on a mission to launch a whole lineup of plug-in hybrid cars, and the automaker shows little love for non plug-in hybrids.

Does this mean that conventional hybrids don’t have a future?

According to professor Thomas Weber, a Mercedes board member and head of research and development, consumers prefers plug-in hybrids, but as all-electric range grows, maybe a gap will appear that will allow M-B to resurrect conventional hybrids again around 2020.

“Do we need [non plug-in hybrids]? I don’t think so,” he said. “Because on high-tech diesels the fuel economy numbers are so low that if a customer decides to take another step I think the plug-in is the best solution.”

Mercedes currently offers non plug-in hybrids on models like the C-Class and S-Class, but the issue remains that non plug-in hybrids don’t offer a long enough range on electricity alone.

“In the past we had, not mild hybrids, but small plug-ins, and the missing part is the electrified driving distance,” said Weber.

However, he said that as the electric range of plug-ins increases, non plug-in hybrids could return, adding another option to sit next to the conventional diesel and petrol engines.

“Coming closer to 2020 I believe there is of course an opportunity. Between plug-in, with its more and more extended electric driving range, there is a gap where we can come back to these hybrid solutions in, for example, the A-Class.”

Well, five years from now we would rather like to see more all-electric Mercedes-Benz vehicles with decent range over straight hybrids. Wouldn’t you?

Source: Autocar

Categories: Mercedes

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19 Comments on "Mercedes-Benz Board Member Discusses Future Of Plug-In Hybrids & Non Plug-In Hybrids"

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Mensch

Mercedes-Benz is currently working on 4 Battery Electric Vehicles. 2 Sedans and 2 SUVs at the E and S / GLE and GLS size and price-points. They will be launched under a sub brand… think “i”to BMW or prius to Toyota. The first vehicle is due out by 2020 and all 4 will be onsale by the end of the first half of the next decade. And yes, Daimler AG views them as direct competitors to Tesla.

RS

And yes, they are on average 10 years to late. In 2025 even the X will be a well established car.

James

At six bucks per gallon, they BETTER do something to relieve the pain at the pump for scores of Europeans!

David Murray

In 2015, I think it is silly to design a hybrid vehicle that can’t plug in. Some people might make the argument that the low all-electric-range of some plugins like the PiP is so low as to be useless. And while I often get irritated seeing new vehicles coming out with 15 or less miles of range, I also realize that even 10 miles is better than zero, which is what most hybrids have. And if the price difference to the consumer is the same or less than any government incentives, then there is absolutely NO downside to putting a plug on a hybrid as standard.

Braben

There are plenty of people living in cities who don’t have an opportunity to charge at home. Why should they lug around a heavy battery they can’t utilize? Efficient diesels or conventional hybrids are the most effective solution in those cases.

no comment

in larger cars you don’t get much of an mpg boost from hybrid technology.

David Murray

That’s not really true. It just doesn’t “seem” like a lot. For example, if you take a 40 mpg car and increase its fuel economy by 25% with a hybrid, you now get 50 mpg. So, you got an extra 10 mpg. But when you take a car that only gets 15 mpg to begin with and increase it by 25% you get around 18 or 19 mpg. So it doesn’t seem like as much. But you are still saving 25% on fuel. And often the fuel savings are much greater in city traffic than on the highway. And most commuters are in city traffic.

So.. Really the only reason hybrids haven’t caught on with larger vehicles is because people have poor math skills and don’t understand how to see the numbers.

Tim E

+1 well explained! I still say all vehicles should be plugin with a minimum of 20 miles AER.

Just_Chris

+0.5 the problem is not the actual saving which as you rightly point out is 25% for ICE to hybrid but the EU test cycle assumes that a PHEV battery is fully charged at the start of the journey, is only 25 km and only has very gentle acceleration segments in it. This leads to the mild PHEV’s from BMW and MB getting a massive boost to their economy on the sticker rather than their actual economy in the wild.

I used to believe that this test cycle wasn’t an issue as it was just a standard test cycle so the absolute numbers didn’t matter but now MB and BMW are both cynically taking advantage of the cycle by producing cars that have just enough battery to get them in the lowest tax band and to help them meet their 2020 emission goals I am beginning to think that this cycle needs pretty rapid revision. Otherwise we will end up with a load of hybrid vehicles on the road that do little better than a diesel.

Phr3d

+1, CO2-mobiles are kinda’ irritatin’, but a reasonable stop-gap to improved battery performance as others have pointed out.

just always get a burr up somewhere when manufacturers blatantly default to least common denominator and gaming the system.

Lensman

David Murray said:

“So.. Really the only reason hybrids haven’t caught on with larger vehicles is because people have poor math skills and don’t understand how to see the numbers.”

No. The reason large sized plug-in hybrids haven’t been developed and sold, let alone “caught on”, is because larger, heavier vehicles need a battery pack with correspondingly more kWh, which means it costs that much more. So, the larger the vehicle, the higher the “premium” will have to be to provide the same all-electric range.

And the higher the premium, the less competitive it will be against gasmobiles… unless it’s built by Tesla Motors.

jon

With fast growing infrastructure it wouldn’t be a problem. The average length of car ownership is 6 years a lot of progress in charging will happen in that time.

David Murray

I thought I made that clear in my fist comment. If it doesn’t cost the consumer any extra, the better question is WHY NOT? Even if some people can’t regularly use the battery, but having it there it lowers the per-unit manufacturing cost due to higher volume. And maybe the customer will eventually have a charging station available or move to a new home. Or in the worst case scenario, maybe they never use it. But when they trade the car in and it gets sold on the used market, the next person to drive that car will likely make use of it. Not only that, but if regular hybrids disappear then that means MORE people want to charge, so places like apartments will have more tenants screaming at them to install chargers.

Carcus

I can think of a “why not”..

If you put a small (4 kWh-ish) Lithium battery in a PHEV and if someone runs through a full charge cycle 2 or 3 times a day… you might have a battery that has to be replaced every 7 years or so.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the current Prius PHEV batteries hold up for the “hard chargers”

Braben

Well, someone pays for the bigger battery. Also, as mentioned, the added weight reduces efficiency. For example, the Ford Fusion Energi has worse fuel economy than the Fusion Hybrid when used without charging due to the added weight.

Tim E

I see it quite differently – it DOES make sense to have a large enough battery pack to be able to plug in – as long as it is good for at least 20 miles. Anyone that drives in a mountainous or hilly region can get a significant advantage through the stronger regenerative braking, saving on brake pads and gaining them electric miles.

I drove a Honda Insight then a Civic Hybrid for 12 years before getting a Leaf – I had plenty of times where I ran out of capacity for regenerative braking – and it was the much weaker regen in the first place being a standard hybrid.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

It’s really not silly at all if you note that this is Mercedes Benz, and he specifically referred to the A Class, which is a compact. Larger batteries can compromise space, and smaller batteries limit EV capability.

So, for reasons of internal space, the choice might be BEV or HEV for smaller cars, but BEV or PHEV for larger vehicles. Depends where battery and electronics go.

no comment

to correct this article, there is currently a benzo s550 PHEV being sold in the 2015 model year.

GSP

Well, five years from now we would rather like to see more all-electric Mercedes-Benz vehicles with decent range over straight hybrids. Wouldn’t you?

Well, yes. But only if Daimler installs a reliable network of DC fast charging stations, each with enough stalls to handle demand, like Tesla is doing with their Supercharger network.

Unreliable government funded stations with only one stall do not cut the mustard. Period.

Otherwise I would buy a PHEV instead.

GSP