Mercedes-Benz introduces its first luxury hybrid

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Mercedes-Benz has introduced a plug-in hybrid version of its flagship S-class sedan.

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The S550 Plug-in Hybrid, Mercedes says, “is the first luxury sedan with the performance of a V8 and the fuel consumption of a compact model.”
Its hybrid technology is based on the company’s Formula 1 race car, which like the S550 is powered by a turbocharged V6 engine and a “high-tech hybrid drive,” said Mercedes’ Ola Kallenius, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Mercedes says the new vehicle puts out 436 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, and goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, to a top speed of 130 mph. It has a range of 20 miles of “completely emission-free driving,” the company says, using its electric motor, which is powered by a lithium-ion battery.

Recharge time on the S500 hybrid is four hours on a household 230-volt plug, or two hours on a 400-volt system.

The new vehicles should be in showrooms in mid-2015, the company said. Pricing on the S550 Plug-In Hybrid has not been released. But the S550 sedan has a base MSRP of $94,000.

Testing of the vehicle, Mercedes says, indicates the S550 hybrid model produces 42 percent less CO2 emissions than its gas-powered S550 equivalent.

The car has a 7-speed automatic transmission and employs a “haptic accelerator pedal” that extends range and fuel capacity by telling the driver when to let up on the accelerator and let the car coast and regenerate its battery.

The vehicle can also maximize fuel efficiency by using radar to map traffic and routing.

The new S550 also offers what the company calls the “world premiere” of its extended pre-entry climate control. If drivers have told the car what time they plan to depart, the vehicle will heat or cool the car according to anticipated outside temperature — and will even heat or cool the seats, steering wheel and armrests.

Standard on the vehicle are leather upholstery, high performance headlights and LED tail lights, an array of onboard communications features, and safety features like collision warning and automatic braking, plus “ambient lighting in seven colors.”

Though the B-class Electric Drive and E400 Hybrid are already available in some markets, this hybrid plug-in represents the first such vehicle in the S-class to be sold in the U.S.

MCT

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