Mercedes-AMG has been directed to first engineer its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine then prepare for electrification.
The 4.0-litre engine found under the bonnet of the just-released Mercedes-AMG GT and Mercedes-AMG C63 will kill off the 5.5-litre non-turbo V8, the last remaining naturally aspirated V8 in the brand’s portfolio, when the SLK 55 AMG (below) is replaced.
“It’s one of the most emotional engines we’ve had [but] it is clear it is running out,” tells Mercedes-Benz head of research and development and member of the board, Dr Thomas Weber.
“Electrification will also take place inside of AMG [and] for me the role model is Formula One, a power hybrid … will be important, because I don’t believe the AMG guys argue how many kilometres I can go pure electric, they will ask power and overtaking ability and fun to drive, in combination with acceptable fuel economy level.
“Can we out of our modular strategy define something really specific for AMG? Why not?
“If we have the competencies on board with our high-performance engine organisation and based on the experience of the Formula One, I believe in the future you will see these kinds of modules.”
Weber refuted suggestions that AMG is lagging behind the rest of the Mercedes-Benz brand for the introduction of hybrids or electric vehicles, the performance brand being absent from the Mercedes-Benz strategy of delivering 10 plug-in hybrids to market before 2017.
Despite also facing rivals from BMW and Porsche that utilise electric propulsion for their sports cars, Weber defined current plug-in hybrid technology as best placed to reduce emissions rather than increase performance.
“So far the biggest problem … is that the battery pack is big and heavy [and] it’s completely against performance,” he added.
He also clarified that for a relatively small brand such as Mercedes-AMG, “the much more important step was to develop a completely new base engine, because with this base engine for each and every single vehicle it is possible to reduce fuel consumption by 30 per cent.”
This engine, he argues, can then be used “to discuss installation of electrification module, hybrid module,” although the research and development boss refused to narrow down the timeline for an production AMG hybrid or electric vehicle.
“In the performance segment, electrified vehicles will be necessary,” Weber admits, citing the fully electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG e-drive (above) as a first toe-in-the-water step for the performance division.