Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Mercedes-Benz is planning a light hybrid approach for its future S-Class, a source close to the project at the Hybrid Development Center in Troy, MI, says here at the Management Briefing Seminars.

When it was DaimlerChrysler AG, the emphasis was on bringing hybrids to Chrysler Group projects first. Chrysler will have full hybrid powertrains on its Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUVs beginning some time next year.

The vehicles will feature Chrysler’s 5.7L Hemi V-8 mated to the Two-Mode hybrid transmission and electric motors developed in a joint venture with General Motors Corp. and BMW AG. The hybrid powertrain is expected to boost fuel economy up to 25%.

Now that those projects are nearing production, the emphasis has switched to Mercedes-Benz.

The heavy, expensive and profitable S-Class flagship sedan needs a hybrid powertrain to lower its fuel consumption to meet future European goals, and relatively inexpensive electric motor-generators will allow the engine to shut off at stop lights and in traffic jams.

The Hybrid Development Center has said it is working on a smaller Two-Mode hybrid system that would work for luxury cars, but it is unclear whether the Mercedes decision to go with a mild hybrid setup on the S-Class is an interim step or a possible retreat from any plans it may have had for a full hybrid powertrain in its flagship car. The initial Two-Mode system is aimed at light trucks, potentially making it a candidate for the Mercedes M-Class.

The Hybrid Development Center has been funded by BMW, GM and DC. It is unclear how the DaimlerChrysler breakup will affect Chrysler’s continued participation in the JV.