Mercedes will only offer plug-in hybrids for the time being on the likes of the new GLC, but it is likely to return to more conventional hybrid technology within the next five years.
Professor Thomas Weber, a Mercedes board member and head of research and development, said that plug-in hybrids are the next natural step beyond a diesel.
“Do we need [non plug-in hybrids]? I don’t think so,” he said. “Because on high-tech diesels the fuel economy numbers are so low that if a customer decides to take another step I think the plug-in is the best solution.”
Mercedes currently offers non plug-in hybrids on models like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but the issue remains that non plug-in hybrids don’t offer a long enough range on electricity alone.
“In the past we had, not mild hybrids, but small plug-ins, and the missing part is the electrified driving distance,” said Weber.
However, he said that as the electric range of plug-ins increases, non plug-in hybrids could return, adding another option to sit next to the conventional diesel and petrol engines.
“Coming closer to 2020 I believe there is of course an opportunity. Between plug-in, with its more and more extended electric driving range, there is a gap where we can come back to these hybrid solutions in, for example, the A-Class.”
He did not confirm whether it would be the A-Class that would see the return of hybrid tech, but said that the technology itself would return.
“It is still a question which vehicle this technology will go in. It will come, it is in development,” he said.
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