Plug-in hybrid cars are often associated with the fuel-sipping practicality of the Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt and Volvo V60. But in recent years the technology has trickled up into high-end luxury vehicles from Porsche, BMW and even a limited edition McLaren.
Now Mercedes-AMG, the maker of top-performing Mercedes-Benzes with hand-crafted German engines, is exploring the use of plug-in hybrid systems found in some conventional Mercs.
“We’re looking at those technologies for us, because they’re in our parent company and we’re looking at, you know, how can we make sure that they still fulfil our standards of performance delivery,” Wolfgang Ungerer, Mercedes-AMG’s marketing chief, told the Australian online automotive news site CarAdvice.com.au. “We think there’s a scenario, but at this point in time it’s just investigation.”
High-end automakers are warming to electric motors not just because it helps them meet more stringent fuel economy standards but also because these powertrains have superior torque performance on takeoff. It’s the reason why a Tesla Model S electric car can smoke a gas-powered Lamborghini in the first 100 yards or so before the more powerful Italian sports car revs up to top speed. Plug-in hybrids rely primarily on gasoline engines but use electric-motor assist. Some allow electric-only power for short distances.
If Mercedes-AMG decides plug-in hybrid technology meets its high expectations for performance, then we could see AMG join its parent, Daimler AG, in producing plug-ins like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan and GLE crossover. If built, the first Mercedes-Benz AMG plug-in could be, depending on body type, Daimler’s answer to the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid or the BMW i8.
Mercedes-AMG currently produces 15 models ranging from the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder $64,000 compact A45 AMG to the 6.0-liter V-12 S65 AMG with a $220,000 price tag.