Daimler has highlighted the importance of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models on the road to zero-emission driving by pushing ahead with the development of new models featuring the technology.
Under the EQ branding, Daimler will be including PHEV technology in a number of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The A250e, A250e saloon and B250e models have all broken cover, with A-Class models available to order now and B-Class sales starting soon.
‘The EQ Power for the A- and B-Class underscores Mercedes-Benz's plug-in initiative: the company aims to extend its offering to more than 20 model variants by 2020,’ Daimler said in a statement.
A compact hybrid traction head has been developed for the 8F-DCT dual-clutch transmission, which follows the same technical principles as the corresponding component on the vehicles with a longitudinally installed engine. The stator is permanently integrated into the traction head housing, while the low-loss wet clutch is incorporated in the electric machine's rotor. On-demand stator and rotor cooling allow use of the electric motor's peak, and continuous, output without any problems.
For the first time on a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, the combustion engine is started by the electric motor - the compact hybrids do not have a separate 12-volt starter.
Plug-in hybrids offer customers the best of both worlds: in town they run in all-electric mode, while on long journeys they benefit from the range of the combustion engine. They make the vehicle more efficient overall because they can firstly recover energy during braking and, secondly, allow the combustion engine to run in favourable operating ranges.
By the end of 2019, Mercedes-Benz will offer more than ten plug-in hybrids across its range –from compacts car to the flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Carmakers are pushing on with their electrification strategies due to rising CO2 emissions and looming financial penalties for breaching EU targets in 2021. Additionally, there are stricter targets coming in for 2025 and 2030.
While PHEV technology represents a stepping stone on the path to battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and has proven popular with consumers who want the ability to use both electric power and fuel, current PHEV technology may not be up to the standard required as countries including France and the UK look to ban the sales of polluting cars by 2040. In the UK, sales of PHEVs have also dropped dramatically following the withdrawal of grants to incentivise buyers to switch to the cleaner, greener powertrain option.
Daimler itself is struggling to meet its 2021 CO2 target. The company has revealed that pollution levels in Europe for the Mercedes-Benz Cars division rose by 7% last year, due in part to the more stringent WLTP test procedure introduced in September last year for all models sold on the continent.
The new regime, together with a shift in consumer taste towards heavier SUV models and the decline in diesel sales, pushed average fleet emission levels at Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and Smart passenger car business to 135 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) in Europe in 2018 - up from 125 g/km in 2017.
In a recent Autovista Group survey that asked which manufacturer was most likely to meet, or be close to, its 2021 emissions target, Daimler only gained 3% of the votes – as too did BMW.