Leadership was invited to attend the launch of the all new Mercedes C350e Plug-in Hybrid and Mercedes S500e Plug-in Hybrid at the company’s manufacturing plant in East London.
After a short presentation we were taken on a plant tour of the state of the art factory where the C-Class is built in Left hand and Right hand drive configurations for local and export markets. The C350e Plug-In Hybrid is also built here.
Following this we had the opportunity to drive both cars on the highway from East London to Port Elizabeth. The C350e Plug-in Hybrid is a further milestone to zero emission mobility and follows the S500e Plug-in Hybrid and is the first with a 4 cylinder engine. Power output is 205kw with torque of 600Nm and a certified consumption of 2.1l/100km. This fuel consumption is managed by the intelligent drive system that anticipates energy management taking into account the destination and traffic situation.
The C350e can run for 31km in all electric mode, but the “Intelligent HYBRID” system ensures the High voltage battery is always only charged enough to take advantage of recuperation opportunities provide by the route and terrain set by the on-board navigation system, which constantly gives feed back to the engine depending on the upcoming terrain, up to 7 kilometres in advance. The electric motor automatically boosts the combustion engine to discharge the battery enough to store the expected recuperation energy.
The HV battery can also be charged by plugging it into a normal wall socket at home or office.
The road to the halfway stop Oceana Lodge near Port Alfred gave us ample opportunities to check out the performance of both models in their various spec and operating modes.
Hybrid Mode: this provides optimum use of the combustion engine and electric motor.
E-Mode: this uses the electric motor only, ideal for running around town.
E-Save Mode: preserves the High-Voltage Battery for future use.
Charge: Electric operation is stopped and the combustion engine charges the HV Battery.
Another feature is Radar based recuperation. A double impulse on the haptic accelerator pedal warns the driver to take his foot off the pedal as the car in front is approaching too fast. This is done by a double vibration on the pedal. If the driver still continues to keep his foot on the accelerator a proximity warning light will appear on the instrument panel and when the driver brakes the seat belt will automatically tension holding the driver and front seat passenger in the seat. Once the driver takes his foot off the accelerator pedal the combustion engine will switch off and be disconnected from the drive train.
Both cars have a host of safety and style and comfort features expected in these state of the art cars, and are the hallmark of the Mercedes Benz marque.
The Mercedes Benz C350e costs R804 900 whilst the S500e retails for R1 875 500.