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Daimler Promises More Electric Vehicles

Maker readying plug-in S-Class, battery supercar and more, says Zetsche.

by on Apr.13, 2011

Who says battery power can't be fun? The Mercedes SLS E-Cell is one of the big debuts at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

The battery-powered version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar will reach dealers in 2013.

Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of S-Class by mid-decade and launch an electric version of the SLS AMG “gull wing,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsch told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in Berlin.

“We now manufacture four fully electric models, which is more than any other automaker worldwide,” said Zetsche, citing production of the Smart electric drive, the A-Class E-Cell, the small Vito Van E-Cell and the B-Class F-Cell.

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“Three of these models – the Smart, the A-Class and the Vito –rely solely on a battery-electric drive system” said Zetsche. “Our experience has been so positive that we will soon be introducing additional models,” he said.

Among the models under development is a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation S-Class, Zetsche revealed, “in other words a ‘partially electric’ vehicle whose battery can be recharged from a normal power source,” he said.


A Replacement for Displacement? Luxury Makers Betting On It

Luxury makers Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Bentley explore smaller and alternative engines.

by on Jan.18, 2011

Porsche's 918 RSR race car will use a hybrid powertrain to give it a track edge.

“There’s no replacement for displacement,” goes the old automotive adage, and nowhere has that approach carried more weight than in the luxury market, where big V8s and V12s are the norm, rather than the exception.

At least until now.  But with U.S. regulators looking at a 62 mpg CAFE standard and even tougher restrictions likely to go into effect in Europe, luxury makers like Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Bentley are looking to downsize their powertrain line-up.

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The trend is already apparent in the mainstream of luxury models, where four-cylinder gas and small turbocharged diesels have become as much the norm as the exception.  But the shift is beginning to take hold in even the most performance-oriented models, such as those produced by Ferrari, Bentley and Mercedes’ AMG division. (more…)

Mercedes Goes Electric

Automaker unveils assortment of battery cars in Frankfurt.

by on Sep.15, 2009

Look for a production version of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, which will be based off the next-generation S-Class, according to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.

Look for a production version of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, which will be based off the next-generation S-Class, according to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.

It seems that everywhere you turn, at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, automakers are plugging in, and Mercedes-Benz is no exception.  Not to be outdone, the German luxury manufacturer is rolling out an assortment of plug-in hybrids, battery cars, fuel-cell vehicles and other high-mileage/low-emissions products and concept vehicles for the biennial event.

That’s a sharp turnaround for Daimler AG’s flagship brand which, for many years, resisted the idea of electrifying its products, fearing it would become increasingly difficult to differentiate them from the offerings of more mainstream brands.  But a combination of shifting consumer attitudes and tougher government regulations has Mercedes making an aggressive bid to become one of the industry’s leaders in the shift to green technology.

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“The electrification of the powertrain is key” to maintaining personal mobility, declared Dieter Zetsche, who serves double-duty as Daimler CEO and Mercedes’ brand boss.


Q&A: Mercedes-Benz US CEO Ernst Lieb

“Wonder Diesels,” used cars and staving off new competitors.

by on Apr.24, 2009

While Mercedes-Benz is just ready to launch its first hybrid, the ML450, it remains committed to diesels, says U.S. CEO Ernst Lieb.

While Mercedes-Benz is just ready to launch its first hybrid, the ML450, it remains committed to diesels, says U.S. CEO Ernst Lieb.

If he didn’t hand you his business card, you might not guess where Ernst Lieb hails from.  He’s got an easy-going manner and quick laugh, not the stiff formality Americans typically associate with German executives.  His accent is slight and his knowledge of the North American market – and its culture – runs deep.  It helps, of course, that he’s spent plenty of time here, running first the Canadian, and now the U.S., subsidiaries of luxury powerhouse Mercedes-Benz.

The automaker once assumed an almost god-given right to dominate the luxury market, both in the U.S. and globally, but it’s had a tougher battle in recent times.  The American debut of Japanese marque Lexus was one body blow, and German marques BMW and Audi haven’t made things easy, either, lately.  To top that off, the current recession has been unexpectedly hard on the entire luxury market, with Mercedes sales, some months falling nearly as fast as troubled General Motors.

Even so, the German maker continues to roll out a procession of new products, such as the E-Class remake due to showrooms in the coming months.’s Paul A. Eisenstein spoke with Lieb about Wonder Diesels, certified used cars, new competitors and more.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comTheDetroitBureau: Mercedes is about to introduce its first hybrid vehicle, in the U.S., a version of the M-Class sport-ute dubbed the ML450.  How important will hybrids be for you?

Lieb: When you look at last, with record fuel prices, there was a lot of talk about hybrids.  That’s changed since fuel prices came back down.  I expect fuel prices will go back up again, not stay at $50 a barrel, so this is still the right thing to do.  I don’t think sales will be huge.  It’s for customers who want hybrid technology.  Of course, there obviously will be a price difference you have to pay for the technology.

TDB: You also remain committed to diesels, and at the recent New York Auto Show, you provided a look at a version of the new E-Class sedan, the E250, that could be outfitted with what the European press have dubbed the “Wonder Diesel,” a 2.5-liter engine that you said could go over 40 mpg, even in that big car.  When do we get it here?

Lieb: We’d love to see that engine here.  To get over 40 mpg is huge, but we’d love to see it, at least first, in the C-Class or maybe the new GLK, not the E-Class.  We’re just not sure customers would accept it there. (more…)