Home' Motoring Plus : July 27th 2016 Contents 8 —THE NELSON MAIL Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Mercedes-Benz NZ plugs-in
Mercedes-Benz certainly isn’t the first
premium brand to get plug-in cars into the
Kiwi market. So it aims to be the cleverest
instead, reports David Linklater.
New GLE 500e
power with V6
petrol engine and
electric range is
S 500e was the first Mercedes plug-in model. Intelligent power management
combines electric drive with sat-nav and radar-cruise information.
Audi’s been in for a while. So has
BMW. Mercedes-Benz is the last of
the premium ‘‘big three’’ to
introduce plug-in technology to
the Kiwi market.
The Three-Pointed Star has
been arguably the least
enthusiastic about the local
potential of electric vehicles to
date. Just how much of a push the
plug-ins get remains to be seen, as
they’re officially available ‘‘to
order’’ rather than simply on-sale.
But the new range certainly
covers a few bases.
M-B is now offering the C-class
sedan and wagon, GLE SUV and
S-class luxury limousine as plug-
in hybrids, with a new-generation
E-class to follow. They’re
hybridised versions of existing
models rather than bespoke
electrics (although those are
coming from the marque); you’ll
know them by the little ‘e’ on the
The C 350e opens at $95,900 for
the sedan and $98,900 for the
estate. Both are powered by a
2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
four and electric motor, with total
system output of 205kW/600Nm
and Combined fuel consumption
of 2.4/2.6 litres per 100km.
The $149,900 GLE 500e and
$255,000 S 500e share the same
basic powertrain: a 3.0 -litre petrol
V6 and electric motor making a
total of 325kW/650Nm, albeit in
4WD form for the GLE. Fuel
economy is 3.3 litres for the SUV
and 2.8 litres for the luxury sedan.
Pure-electric range is between
31-33km, depending on model.
All M-B’s current plug-ins
drive through a conventional
transmission, with the electric
motor replacing the torque
converter in the bell housing. The
forthcoming E 350e will be the
first to combine 9G-Tronic with
All the brand’s plug-ins also
have Airmatic suspension.
The S 500e was the first M-B
plug-in hybrid on the market in
Europe, and it was this model that
we got a short ride in during a
visit to Melbourne this month.
That’s ‘ride’ rather than ‘drive’,
although arguably the rear seat is
the correct place to sit in an
Plug-in power completes the
luxury experience in M-B’s iconic
luxury sedan. In electric-only
mode the car simply glides
through traffic, and although you
can’t lock out the petrol engine
completely - it’ll still fire up if you
ask for a certain level of
acceleration - our driver reckoned
the big S-class was more than
capable of mixing it up in traffic
without the need for petrol power.
If these e-Mercs have a unique
selling proposition among the
premium plug-in competition, it’s
the way in which the hybrid
powertrain has been calibrated
and engineered to work so
intelligently with the marque’s
The hybrid system itself has
four operating modes: Hybrid
(optimum mixture of petrol and
electric), E-mode (pure electric),
E-save (to maintain charge for
later use) and Charge (the petrol
engine acts as a generator).
These operating modes can
also be overlaid with the car’s
own transmission settings:
Economy, E-Plus and Sport.
We already know that M-B’s
Distronic adaptive cruise control
is one of the best driver-assistance
systems going. But it gets even
more clever in e-guise.
The radar is always watching
and can help the hybrid system
harvest energy if it detects that
the car in front is slowing down.
That will put the car into ‘sailing’
low-friction mode and hold the
distance between the vehicles
solely on electric power.
If the transmission is in E-Plus
mode, the ‘haptic accelerator’ can
give your foot a double-tap to
remind you to lift off if the car
ahead is slowing down - even if
the Distronic cruise is not active.
If you have programmed a sat-
nav destination in E-Plus, the car
can also select the greenest route
and optimum driving modes
With the sat-nav in close
communication with the hybrid
system, the idea is to maximise
electric drive and still arrive at
your destination with an empty
battery (which means you’ve
maximised its use).
For example, if the sat-nav can
see a hill ahead, it will give the
drivetrain extra boost going up to
save fuel, because the system also
recognises the regeneration
potential down the other side.
There are other comfort/
convenience advantages to plug-
in power. All ancillaries are
electrically powered in the
e-models, including the climate
control system. That means
owners can set the car’s air
conditioning and seat heating to
‘pre-entry’ mode for up to five
minutes, with three different
departure times if needed.
There are three different
charging methods for the M-B
e-models: public infrastructure
using the American-style Type 1
plug, at home through a
conventional three-pin socket or
with a Mercedes-supplied
optional fast-charge wallbox.
The C, GLE and S plug-ins all
have their power connections at
the right-hand side of the rear
bumper. This works for left-hand
drive models, as it puts the
charging point next to the kerb for
roadside charging posts.
It’s not so sensible for right-
hook cars (it’s in the same place
for either steering wheel
configuration), as it puts the
charge point on the roadside and
surely makes it more susceptible
to parking damage from cars
backing in or pulling out from
While the C 350e, GLE 500e and
S 500e are baby steps towards
electric motoring for our market,
M-B is heavily invested in the
future of plug-in motoring in a
The German maker is
developing its own pure-electric
modular platform, which will
underpin a new generation of 100
per cent electric models. We show
know more about that after the
Paris Motor Show in October.
What’s not widely known is
that M-B currently develops and
produces all of its own batteries
through a subsidiary called
Accumotive also took the M-B
brand into the non-automotive
battery business last year, with
the launch of a range of lithium-
ion ‘energy storage’ units for both
business and domestic users.
Intriugingly, the storage units
are made from stacks of the same
battery modules used in M-B cars.
The system can be combined with
M-B Australia has done just
that at its Melbourne head office,
with 100 roof-mounted
photovoltaic panels and an energy
storage unit (yes, the stacks do
wear a Three-Pointed Star badge)
supplying its newly constructed
vehicle charging station.
The solar panels provide more
than enough electricity to charge
four cars, three times per day,
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