by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

New Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID: The world's most fuel-efficient luxury-class model

The new E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is all set for its market launch with record efficiency values of 4.2 litres of diesel/100 km and 109 g CO2/km, accompanied by increased torque and power output. Its modular hybrid concept with a lithium-ion battery does not impose any compromises on space and offers an impressive driving experience thanks to start/stop, regenerative braking, the boost effect, all-electric driving and sailing. Available as either a saloon or estate, the new E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is the world's most fuel-efficient model in the luxury segment.

Mercedes-Benz is opening up a new chapter in the core segment for the brand, setting new standards for luxury-class business cars: the E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, which is available as a Saloon and an Estate, boasts truly impressive performance. Its 4-cylinder diesel engine generates 150 kW (204 hp) of output and 500 Nm of torque. The diesel engine combines with an electric motor rated at 20 kW and 250 Nm to produce a harmonious overall concept.

The new model does not impose compromises on passengers in terms of spaciousness, either in the interior or in the luggage compartment. The intelligent, modular hybrid concept represents a comprehensive enhancement of the S 400 HYBRID – the clear market leader in its segment: no body modifications are necessary, the hybrid module is flexible and also suitable for deployment in other model series.

The extra cost of € 3570 with a comparable level of equipment is moderate: in Germany the Saloon version of the E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID costs € 51,794.75, the Estate version € 55,007.75 (both incl. 19% VAT). Both models will be launched in the third quarter 2012.

The philosophy: enhanced efficiency without compromising on comfort or utility

The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID forms part of the brand's downsizing strategy, which involves making conventional models perform far more efficiently than previously – without sacrificing driveability or comfort. Here the company's engineers have their sights set on fuel consumption figures in everyday traffic, rather than on standard or NEDC combined consumption. The familiar "Real Life Safety" philosophy, which focuses on safety benefits under real-life conditions rather than standardised crash-test results, is augmented by "Real Life Efficiency".

The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is based on the E 250 CDI, yet has a higher output and approx. 15 percent lower fuel consumption.

Overview of the E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID:

On the road therefore, the E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is comparable to the E 300 CDI (170 kW/540 Nm), yet it boasts around 35 percent lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. In terms of vehicle weight too, the E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is on a par with the E 300 CDI.

At the same time, hybridisation enhances ride comfort: the car starts and moves off in virtual silence, while the hybrid module also dampens any internal combustion engine vibrations. What's more, full climate control is available even in start/stop mode.

Sailing along the motorway

Mercedes-Benz hybrid technology offers a wealth of extra functions that enhance both comfort and efficiency, as well as helping to deliver a special driving experience underpinned by accomplished sportiness:

When the car is stationary – ECO start/stop: the internal combustion engine can be switched off when coasting on the overrun at speeds up to 160 km/h, since ancillaries such as the steering, brakes and refrigerant compressor operate electrically. It is restarted quickly, smoothly and virtually silently.

Manoeuvring: in most cases the car uses electric power alone for manoeuvring and parking.

Accelerating: electrical power alone is used for moving off and driving under low load. Acceleration from standstill is particularly powerful, since the electric motor's full torque of up to 250 Nm is immediately available.

Boost function: the electric motor supports the combustion engine during acceleration, e.g. when overtaking.

Cruising: when the car is being driven at a constant speed, the engine control unit shifts the operating points towards exceptionally low specific fuel consumption levels.

Sailing: "sailing", as it has come to be known, is possible at speeds below 160 km/h. The combustion engine shuts down and the desired speed is maintained by the electric‑motor alone until the battery needs recharging.

Kinetic energy recuperation when coasting or braking: when the car is coasting (decelerating on the overrun), the electric motor acts as a generator. When the brake pedal is depressed, the generator output is initially increased proportionally for greater deceleration. Only when increased brake pressure is applied are the wheel brakes also operated.
Information: an additional economy effect arises after a relatively short period of time, as drivers come to apply the above-stated functions in an increasingly more purposeful and effective manner. They are supported here by the display concept in the hybrid models – the central display provides information on the current energy flow and the charge status of the battery.

The hybrid module: a compact and intelligently integrated powerhouse

The hybrid drive unit is a further development of the module from the S 400 HYBRID and is based on the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission. Distinguishing features include omission of the hydraulic torque converter and the addition of a wet clutch of the kind also found in the high-performance AMG models. Consequently, the electric motor can be integrated in the transmission unit in such a way that it takes up only marginally more space than the 7G-TRONIC (+65 mm). The omission of the converter allows all-electric motoring as well as "sailing", thus significantly boosting the potential to reduce fuel consumption.

The compact electric motor, which is installed in space-saving configuration in the clutch housing between engine and transmission, is a 3-phase AC internal rotor magneto motor which generates a maximum output of 20 kW and peak torque of 250 Nm at an operating voltage of 120 volts.

The components: perfectly integrated into the vehicle

The hybrid drive's electrical energy is provided by the high-voltage lithium-ion battery specially developed for use in vehicles. Its key characteristics include an output of 19 kW and an energy content of 0.8 kWh, allowing the E-Class to run on electric power alone at up to 35 km/h and for up to one kilometre. Its space-saving installation in the engine compartment in place of the conventional starter battery means that the generous interior dimensions and the luggage compartment capacity remain unchanged. In addition to serving as an energy accumulator for the electric motor, the lithium-ion battery is also connected via the voltage converter to the 12V on-board electrical system, which supplies power to standard power-consuming devices such as the headlamps and the comfort features.

Sophisticated packaging means that numerous hybrid-specific components such as the high-performance electronics in the engine compartment can be directly incorporated with the internal combustion engine, thus neatly rounding off the modularity concept: the hybrid models can be produced on the same assembly line as their conventional counterparts without needing to be diverted elsewhere. Another plus point of the overall concept is the scalability and compatibility with other vehicles and engines.

Safety: on a par with previous models

Integration of the hybrid systems without any body modifications has the practical benefit of not restricting spaciousness in any way, as well as ensuring that all hybrid models boast exactly the same high level of safety as their counterparts with an internal combustion engine – a very important aspect for Mercedes-Benz. Accident behaviour has been successfully tested in crash simulations and tests.

At a glance: Technical highlights of the Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID*

Credits: Daimler AG

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