Mercedes says its future is electric

* Mercedes plans electric future * 90mpg hybrid S-Class in development * Fuel-cell B-Class for low-volume production...

Mercedes says its future is electric

Mercedes-Benz will have electric or part-electric versions of all its models within the next four years, from the two-seater Smart to its new SLS supercar.

'Electrification of the powertrain is the key to our green ambitions,' the company's chairman, Dr Dieter Zetsche, said at the Frankfurt motor show today.

90mpg S-Class planned
There will even be a plug-in hybrid version of the next S-Class limousine that is capable of almost 90mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 74g/km, Dr Zetsche promised.

It combines a V6 petrol engine with a hybrid module and a lithium-ion battery pack. 'This allows it to be driven purely electrically for short distances,' said Dr Zetsche.

'The technology is going through our rigorous test programme. It is already fit for day-to-day use, and it will be sold in the next S-Class.'

Smaller electric cars, too
However, the main thrust of the company's electrification programme will come from medium-sized cars with the twin-floor concept developed for the A- and B-Class models.

The batteries will be housed in the sandwich between the two floors. Dr Thomas Weber, head of Mercedes research and development, says the company has developed an 'E-drive construction kit using shared parts that reduces costs.

Three B-Class cars are being developed one that's electric only, one with a small three-cylinder engine at the rear to act as a generator for the electric motor when the batteries run dry, and a hydrogen fuel-cell version.

The fuel-cell version will be going into low-volume production 'in the next few weeks', alongside the electric Smart.

'Electric vehicles are part and parcel of our powertrain strategy,' added Dr Zetsche. 'No other car-maker has such an entire range as us for covering the sustainability needs of today and tomorrow.'