Despite having just unveiled the AMG-specific high-performance plug-in hybrid powertrains, Mercedes-Benz will stop investing in new plug-in hybrid technology, instead shifting their focus towards the simpler and more cost-effective battery EVs.
Speaking to Germany’s Handelsblatt at the 2021 IAA Munich, Mercedes-Benz chief operating officer, Markus Schäfer said that the plug-in hybrid’s days at Mercedes are numbered, with no further new developments planned.
The main reason, as usual, boils down to money. Having both an engine and electric components in a single vehicle is inherently more complex, and that added complexity always translates to “a cost burden for the vehicle” that customers will have to bear.
Pure battery electric vehicles, or BEVs on the other hand, are significantly easier to make, which means carmakers can already work on driving the price down, despite EV technology still very much in its “infancy” stage. That doesn’t mean that we won’t be seeing another new PHEV Mercedes-Benz, however.
“The investments have been made, so we are using them,” said Schäfer. And indeed, the recently-unveiled Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S Hybrid E Performance and the AMG Project One does seem to suggest that there’s at least some life left for the brand’s PHEV powertrain.
The former features a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that’s paired to an electric motor for a total system output of 843 hp and up to 1,470 Nm of torque. Nought to 100 km/h takes 2.9 seconds, onward to a top speed of 316 km/h.
Many carmakers consider PHEVs as a stepping stone towards full EVs anyway, and with the rapid tightening of emissions regulations worldwide, it makes sense to instead funnel more money towards the BEVs.
However, automotive parts supplier ZF doesn’t have the same view. According to CEO Wolf-Henning Schneider, he believes that PHEVs will “play an important role” in the electrification of personal vehicles, and will still remain relevant in many parts of the world “well beyond 2030” – and their order backlogs seem to support his claim.