Stuttgart (Germany) - Mercedes-Benz today announced its two first hybrid vehicles, both of which will be using conventional lithium-ion batteries, as opposed to nickel-metal versions that are used for example in the Toyota Prius or the upcoming Porsche Cayenne Hybrid .
The manufacturer said that its first hybrid, the S400 BlueHybrid will be launched "next year", becoming what the company promises to be the "world's most economical luxury sedan". Mercedes-Benz estimates that the car will run at about 28 mpg, while offering 299 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. The S400 BlueHybrid will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds a reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Following the S400 will be the S300 Bluetec Hybrid, a diesel that is combined with the new lithium-ion battery.
Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz claims that it is the world's first manufacturer "to have succeeded in adapting lithium-ion technology to the demanding requirements of automotive applications." The company has not provided enough details to actually verify this claim, but we do have some doubts as Tesla is using lithium-ion batteries as well - and while the car is not in production yet, pre-production models are already on the road and several hundred Teslas are expected to follow before Mercedes will have the first S400 delivered to a customer.
What we do know, however, is that the German car maker has come up with some ideas to make the battery system more efficient. For example, the battery has been integrated into the vehicle's climate control, which creates the best possible temperature environment for the system (15 - 35 degrees C). The company also claims that the lithium-ion battery is much smaller than other battery systems currently on the market, indicating that there the weight penalty may not be as serious and buyers of won't have to give up quite as much trunk space as in other hybrids.