Mercedes-Benz may be pushing its electric car agenda with its EQ sub-brand, but the German maker has confirmed at CES 2017 this week there is still plenty of life left in the conventional combustion engine.
Mercedes-Benz’s EQ program will see the brand offer “at least 10 battery electric vehicles by 2025”, but along with charging ahead (!) in the EV market, Mercedes-Benz is looking to adapt its conventional powertrain line-up, too.
In fact, the company will launch a new drivetrain in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class midway through 2017 that will incorporate new technologies that haven’t been used by the brand.
The new S-Class model will bring a 48-volt battery system for energy storage that can boost the drivetrain when needed, as well as an integrated starter alternator and electric auxiliary compressor that supplements the conventional turbocharger to combat turbo lag. It's not the first 48-volt system to make it to market – the Audi SQ7 uses a similar set-up to help it boost performance and economy for its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine.
Ola Kallenius, member of the board of management of Daimler AG, group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development, said at CES 2017 the brand sees increased efficiencies in regular engines as a vital stepping point towards a fully electrified future.
“What about combustion engines – is that important any more? Of course it’s important. And it will remain important for many years to come,” Kallenius said.
“Depending on how aggressive your scenario is, and how quickly you think we will go to zero emission and battery electric, nobody knows – it’s a crystal ball,” he said.
“We have to be flexible in this, and we have to make sure our production network is flexible. Still, in 10 years from now, the major part of cars will have a combustion engine, so it’s key to keep investing in this technology as well.”
And as the former head of Mercedes-AMG, Kallenius said the new drivetrain in the S-Class offers performance on par with a V8 engine, which he was very happy about.
“The inline six-cylinder gasoline engine that’s coming in the S-Class this summer, which in terms of driving dynamics, and just being fun to drive – as an ex-AMG guy, when I drove this for the first time it was the first time that I almost admitted that you don’t need a V8,” he said. “But then I came to my senses, and of course, didn’t say this.
“It uses 48-volt for an integrated storage and generator, and it also has an auxiliary electric boost for the turbo which is kind of the secret sauce for the agility of this engine,” he said. “And it will be a benchmark in terms of fuel economy and emissions as well.
“So, doing both, doing the new thing without forgetting the thing we have done for 130 years and continue to do that well, that will be the challenge.”
MORE: CES 2017 coverage