FRANKFURT -- Daimler could be the first carmaker to offer a combustion engine car with a 62-mile electric range, when it launches the Mercedes-Benz GLE plug-in hybrid vehicle in the second half of next year.
As part of a strategy to meet increasingly stringent fleet emission targets, Daimler is introducing partial electrification in every single car it will offer starting with a 48-volt mild hybrid as the minimum.
In addition, the group will offer a plug-in hybrid version for every combustion engine vehicle in the future from the flagship luxury S class to the compact A class.
“We are now in the generation where we switching over from our 30 km hybrids to 50 km. The GLE will be the first car with a 100-km (62 mile) range on a plug-in hybrid in the WLTP cycle,” said Ola Kallenius, head of Daimler group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development.
Currently plug-ins are typically engineered to reach the certified 50-km (31 miles) threshold at most, because that is the minimum needed to qualify a car as a New Energy Vehicle under Chinese regulations. This counts towards a carmaker’s EV credits under a new quota system that takes effect next year.
BMW has said it aims to develop plug-in hybrids with a maximum 100-km range in its upcoming fifth generation eDrive system, which will debut in 2020 at the latest.
When asked whether Mercedes would have to equip an electric battery to a diesel engine to achieve that range on the GLE plug-in, Kallenius declined to specify.
“We did not say that but you shall see soon,” he said.
Virtually every single plug-in hybrid on the market comes with a four-cylinder gasoline engine. Volvo briefly began to offer diesel plug-in hybrids before backing out recently as part of a switch away from the oily fuel. Only Audi has recently offered a plug-in powertrain paired with its V6 diesel with its Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro.
In Geneva, Mercedes said it planned to introduce diesels paired with the company's third-generation hybrid technology, marking the first time the brand pairs a compression-ignition engine with a high-voltage electric motor.