Mercedes-Benz is gearing its future vehicle strategy around a greater uptake of plug-in hybrids than full electric cars, according to the company’s head of development, Thomas Weber.
Speaking at the launch of the Mercedes C-class estate this week, Weber said that there were still “a lot of questions” surrounding the take-up of EVs, with many buyers remaining unconvinced by a lack of charging infrastructure.
“So far around the world there has been huge discussion, small demand,” he said. “It’s not only linked to whether there are cars available to buy; the second question is whether there is an infrastructure available where you can charge your vehicle.”
Although Mercedes is producing a small number of electric models, such as the B-class Electric Drive and Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, it will focus on plug-in hybrid technology for the larger cars in its line-up, with the Mercedes Rear-wheel Architecture (MRA) designed to accommodate PHEV technology.
“We believe that for C-class upwards, the only way to go as we near 2020 and beyond is plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. We will have a plug-in S-class in September, and later in the life cycle of the C-class we will have one too. MRA will make it possible for us to go for plug-in hybrids across the range,” said Weber.
There will be a hybrid version of the new Mercedes-Benz C-class estate, the C300 BlueTec Hybrid, which emits 99g/km.
He added that the future development of EVs would continue to rely heavily on financial support from national governments: “Drivetrains for EVs, including plug-in hybrids, are more expensive than conventional drivetrains, based on limited volume.