“By 2017, we’ll have ten plug-in hybrid models across our range," - that’s the bold statement made by Mercedes-Benz chairman Dieter Zetsche at the 2015 Geneva motor show.
One of the early cabs off the rank will be the C350 e model that debuted at the Detroit motor show (where it wore the moniker C350 Plug-In Hybrid) and which we saw in the flesh on the Mercedes-Benz stand overnight at the Geneva show - and it’s a model Mercedes-Benz Australia would love to see domestically.
“It’s not yet confirmed for Australia, but it is very much on our to-do list,” Mercedes-Benz senior manager of public relations, product and corporate affairs, David McCarthy, told CarAdvice.
“It would be a great addition to our portfolio in Australia, there’s no doubt about that. It’s more likely we’ll see it in 2016, though - if we can make it work.”
McCarthy went on to explain that this new C350 e is a very different vehicle to the C300 BlueTEC Hybrid already on sale locally.
“That vehicle [the C300 BlueTEC] is diesel firstly, don’t forget that,” McCarthy said. “Plus it has a short range on electric only. This vehicle [C350 e] has up to 35 kilometres range under ideal conditions and is of course a petrol hybrid drivetrain.”
McCarthy reckons the C350 e would go well in Australia.
“I think if we can get it, it will do well,” he told CarAdvice. “We’ve seen the S300 Hybrid, for example, exceed the conservative projections we had for that car. People are aware of what conventional hybrids are and what they can do and plug-in hybrids are the next step for us.”
McCarthy went on to explain that with the gap between diesel and petrol engines closing in terms of efficiency, that the step to plug-in hybrid technology represented the next big gain.
From a buyer’s perspective, the plug-in hybrid system ensures there’s no range anxiety either - a strong positive for markets like Australia.
Professor Thomas Weber, head of group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development, agreed that the C 350 e represents a significant step forward for the German brand.
“Sportiness, modern luxury and performance can go hand in hand,” Professor Weber said. “The C350 e will achieve those aims and help us to reduce emissions even further. This is our second plug-in hybrid model and it is highly efficient and highly emotional.”
The European certified fuel consumption figures are impressive, with the C350 e using just 2.1L/100km and emitting only 48g/km of CO2.
The hybrid system consists of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, which generate a combined 208kW and 600Nm. Recharging the battery from flat takes approximately one hour and 30 minutes at a specific wall box or two hours via a conventional socket.
“At Mercedes-Benz, we believe you can have it all,” Prof. Weber said. “The C350 e is a sporty business limousine that delivers efficiency and dynamics.”
The C350 e is packed with clever tech too. It has satellite navigation with intelligent operating strategy - that means the system will ensure you reach urban areas with a fully charged battery to make full use of the electric mode in stop/start city traffic.
Standard equipment also includes air suspension and a pre-entry climate control system, which can be controlled via the internet.
The C350 e is on sale in Germany now, but don’t expect to see it in Australia before 2016.