Just recently I outlined the inductive charging system that BMW and Daimler — the parent company of Mercedes-Benz — are working on, and how it can revolutionize the automakers’ lineups. Well, now we have one car that benefits from this system and will revolutionize Mercedes’ lineup. This car is the S550 Plug-In Hybrid.
This luxo-rig takes the notorious performance and luxury of the S-Class and rolls it into a fuel-efficient package. Under its hood is a 3.0-liter, biturbo V-6 that produces 329 horsepower between 5,250 and 6,000 rpm and 354 pound-feet of torque between 1,600 and 4,000 rpm. This V-6 mates to seven-speed transmission that also houses an electric motor that produces 114 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. Altogether, this system puts down 436 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque while using just 2.8 liters of fuel for every 100 km (84 U.S. mpg) on the combined cycle. All this power allows the S550 Plug-In Hybrid to hit 62 mph in just 5.2 seconds and top out at 130 mph. When the S550 is in electric-only mode, it tops out at 87 mph.
When compared to the base S550, the Plug-In Hybrid has just 13 fewer horsepower, 80 fewer pound-feet of torque, and takes around 0.1 second longer to accelerate to 60 mph. On the positive side, its combined fuel-economy rating it a whopping 64 mpg higher than the V-8-powered S550.
Charging is always an issue with cars like this, but Mercedes did all it could to make it a non-issue. The charging time ranges from two hours on a 400-volt system to 4.1 hours on a 230-volt wall charger in a home. On top of relatively quick charging times, the 8.7-kWh battery affords the large plug-in model a 20-mile electric-only range.
Additionally, Mercedes is testing its prototype inductive charging system with the S550 Plug-In Hybrid. Once this testing process is complete, given it is successful, owners will be able to simply park over the charging pad to start the charging process. No plugging in, no setting up the box and no wires to mess with.
There is no mention of when this new S550 will hit U.S. shores, but given the European model will be a 2015 model year, expect to see the model arrive sometime in the 2015 calendar year as a 2016 model in the States.