As gas prices in the U.S. continue to plummet, Mercedes optimistically debuted its newest plug-in hybrid, the C350, at the Detroit Auto Show.
The German maker’s newest hybrid, following the C300 BlueTEC hybrid in the C-Class, comes as most U.S. automakers are enjoying a sales resurgence of large trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
However, Dieter Zetsche, Daimler AG chairman, noted that there is an other advantage the new hybrid enjoys: it’s fast. The Sedan can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 130 mph and boasts sports-car like handling.
Zetsche later noted the company would be introducing 10 hybrids and that the company isn’t going to back away from hybrids because it’s unlikely gas prices will remain this low forever and that coming regulations regarding fuel economy standards haven’t changed.
“We need vehicles like this,” he said after the event. “They will get us to those (goals).”
In fact, the maker will be launching those 10 hybrids before the end of 2017.
While the new C350 plug-in hybrid is the second plug-in in the Mercedes line-up, it does hit on a new first: the hybrid drive concept is combined for the first time with an efficient four-cylinder gasoline engine.
From a displacement of just under two liters, it produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Its direct injection system with spray-guided combustion uses electronically precise controlled multiple injection and fast multi-spark ignition to deliver outstanding performance coupled with high efficiency and exemplary emissions.
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The electric motor of the hybrid has an output of up to 80 horsepower and delivers 251 lb-ft of torque. Overall, the total system puts out 275 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque.
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The hybrid module of the standard seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-Tronic Plus incorporates both the electric motor and an additional clutch between the combustion engine and the electric motor.
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When driving in all-electric mode, this decouples the combustion engine from the drivetrain. It also offers the possibility of moving off using the combustion engine with the performance of a wet start-up clutch. In this case, the clutch is a substitute for the torque converter. Additionally, the hybrid also offers the possibility of driving up to 20 miles in all-electric mode, and thus completely free of CO2 emissions locally.
The German maker’s hybrid line-up includes: the aforementioned C300 BlueTEC hybrid, E300 BlueTEC hybrid, S400 hybrid, S300 BlueTEC hybrid and the S500 PHEV.