Mercedes-Benz is poised to become the first car maker to sell a diesel-electric hybrid, following confirmation from chairman Dieter Zetsche that the E-class will get such a system next year.
The new car, to be badged E300 Hybrid when sales begin in late 2011, uses a specially tuned version of Mercedes-Benz’s twin-turbocharged 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine from the E250 CDI.
It combines that powerplant with a brushless electric motor and a lithium ion battery similar to that employed in the S400 Hybrid.
The new E-class will be a mild hybrid, meaning the electric motor is used to assist the diesel engine rather than propelling the car on its own.
However, the economy of the E300 Hybrid is said to match the figures of a typical small car, at more than 56mpg on the combined cycle.
Following its debut in the E-class, the new driveline will then be used in the M, GL and R-classes, as well as the GLK.