Mercedes-Benz Jumps on the Hybrid Bandwagon with the New S400

Even though Mercedes-Benz makes quite a few fantastic diesel engines, all of which get better fuel economy than any hybrid, it is obvious that market pressure has forced this one out. I’m talking of course about Mercedes’ new S-Class model, the S400 BlueHybrid.

The S400 hybrid combines all the features of a conventional hybrid. A small(ish) V6 engine is coupled to an electric motor and voila’, a hybrid is born. This prototype is Mercedes-Benz’s answer to the Lexus LS 600h L. The Lexus hybrid delivers a combined 299 horsepower along with average fuel consumption just shy of 30 mpg.

With Mercedes-Benz yet to complete development, North American sales aren’t planned to get under way until September 2009. Still, with the hybrid trend wave reaching its crest, it won’t be long until it rolls over and washes out. Hopefully by then, Mercedes-Benx will have sold enough of these S400’s to justify the cost of development, because trust me, they won’t stay around for too long.

Mercedes-Benz acknowledges it’s quite tardy to the hybrid party. Project leader Oliver Vollrath says, "the S400 BlueHybrid is not the definitive answer to the world’s long-term sustainable mobility requirements. But it does represent a big step into the future, particularly in the area of battery technology. At the moment there is no car that matches its level of technology."

Indeed, it is a great source for R&D as far as battery technology goes, that’s for sure. But I still can’t imagine what kind of business plan calls for the development of powertrains that will be obsolete in about 10 years. Hopefully MB knows something I don’t, cause I seem to look at the S400 BlueHybrid as a delay of the enevitable.


Will Mercedes-Benz’s new offering prove obsolete before it even reaches the end of its life cycle?