With governments and even consumers requesting automakers to explore green technology, luxury cars offer the most viable place to create electrified powertrains. Luxury vehicles are typically sold at a high profit margin allowing the incorporation of new, exotic technologies to be performed without the limitations or sticker shock associated with electric cars trying to appeal to a growing market. That has been the key of success for Tesla Motors and the BMW i line is launching with the anticipation they can find a similar premium market for electrified cars. Taking their first step into the plug-in hybrid vehicle marketplace, Mercedes-Benz is all charged up with the newest variant of their flagship S-Class sedan.
Set to be one of the largest plug-in hybrid cars on the market, the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid will also be perhaps the most lavish vehicle to be chauffeured through zero emissions motoring. For up to 20 miles, the S550 Plug-in Hybrid will exclusively run off an electric motor. Storing the motor’s electric power, a lithium-ion battery unit is water-cooled and weighs a total of 251 pounds. Using a 230-volt charging station, the battery can be replenished in as little as 2 hours and 45 minutes.
The electric power source will be united with a 3-liter V6 biturbo gasoline powerplant. The gasoline engine of the S550 Plug-in Hybrid alone produces 329 horsepower and 354 pound-foot of torque. When combining the power units, Mercedes-Benz has rated overall output at 436 horsepower and 479 pounds-foot of torque. A modified seven-speed automatic transmission handles the momentum from both powerplants. Mercedes-Benz describes the electric/gasoline powertrain as a crossover of principles being effectively demonstrated in their Formula 1 cars this season. With a hefty curb weight of 2,310.1 kilograms (5,093 pounds), the S550 Plug-in Hybrid can muscle from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (0 to 62 MPH) in 5.2 seconds. Top speed of the large sedan is electronically limited at 130 miles per hour.
Besides acceleration, the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid performs impeccably in reducing emissions. C02 (Carbon Dioxide) emissions from the powerplant over the course of 300,000 kilometers can be between 43 to 56 percent less compared to the equivalent vehicle running only on gasoline. The S-Class’ LED lighting also enhances the efficiency of the plug-in hybrid sedan. Even braking for the S550 Plug-in Hybrid is designed for maximizing energy recovery. The electric motor provides initial stopping force for the vehicle before the disc brakes complete the job.
Though the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid sedan has been engineered to be uncompromised in the delivery of low-cost, environmentally friendly driving, the electric/gasoline version of the luxury vehicle does present a trade-off. This compromise is arrived at when storing luggage in the rear cargo area. Trunk space for the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in hybrid sedan is measured at 12.2 cubic feet. Compared to the conventional S550, the plug-in hybrid model loses 4.1 cubic feet of trunk space because of the additional electric powertrain components (Using US measurement).
A well-appointed luxury cabin is a heavily equipped space inside the S550 Plug-in Hybrid. Featuring leather upholstery, Mercedes-Benz has loaded the variant of the S-Class with dual-zone climate control, front seats with Memory package and a COMAND Online as standard. An air suspension system is also included on the S550 Plug-in Hybrid awarding the driver and passengers with a high-comfort ride. From comfort to safety, PRE-SAFE Collision Prevention Assist Plus warning system, Attention Assist and PRE-SAFE impulse is listed as high-end crash avoidance technology found standard.
Technology debuting on the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid is described as extended pre-entry climate control. The interior, seats, steering wheel and armrests can be preheated to a desired temperature through a computer or mobile device timed ahead of an occupant‘s entrance into the vehicle. Extended pre-entry climate control can also provide optional cooling to the seats of the S550 Plug-in Hybrid.
Plugging into Mercedes-Benz dealerships April of 2015, the electrified S550 will join the brand’s E400 Hybrid as well as variety diesel engined vehicles using BlueTec technology.
Information and photo credit: Mercedes-Benz USA