2016 Mercedes-Benz 350 e. Image: Mercedes-Benz
electric cars, high tech, Motoring News, new models, New models, vehicle technology

SA-built C-Class goes hybrid to the world

 

  • Home-made Merc will lead the world
  • Phenomenally low fuel consumption
  • High tech reaches, well, new heights
2016 Mercedes-Benz 350 e. Image: Mercedes-Benz
HOW IT WORKS: Under-the-skin tech for the SA-assembled 2016 Mercedes-Benz 350 e. Image: Mercedes-Benz

EAST LONDON, South Africa – Mercedes-Benz, after first showing it in the S-Class, is now also offering its most advanced hybrid technology in the C-Class to make the car “a convincing proposition in its segment”.

And the plug-in hybrid car is being assembled right here in South Africa.

With a range of 31km from its battery pack, the automaker says,”local emissions-free driving is now a reality”.

The electric drive, in tandem with the car’s four-cylinder petrol engine, will together produce not only 205kW but also a prodigious 600Nm of torque – the performance, Mercedes says, of a sports car but with a possible fuel consumption of only 2.1 litres/100km.

2016 Mercedes-Benz 350 e. Image: Mercedes-Benz
IT’S A HYBRID – BUT ALSO A SPORTS CAR: The 2016 Mercedes-Benz 350 e can do a sub-six sprint to 100km/h and reach 250km/h. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Forget the South African pollution-tax penalty with this clean machine.

This C 350 comes with Airmatic air suspension and its driver can turn on the aircon from his/her cellphone while, say, walking to the car park..

Production of the car is a first for the Mercedes-Benz plant in East London, on the South African east coast, and the cars will be exported from the purpose-built wharf at the city’s river harbour.

READ more Mercedes-Benz features on Carman’s Corner

Arno van der Merwe, CEO and executive director for manufacturing at Mercedes-Benz SA, told The Corner in a media release: “The successful manufacture of the C 350 e sedan to exacting world-class standards at our award-winning East London plan, is another milestone in our 68-year history of engineering excellence.”

The East London plant celebrated the production of its millionth vehicle in May 2015.

“The C 350 e,” MB-SA explained, “uses the most advanced form of hybrid technology. Its electrical energy storage unit is a high-voltage lithium-ion battery with a total capacity of 6.2kWh which can be charged from an external power source to make an effective contribution to the car’s low fuel-consumption and emissions figures.

“The battery is water-cooled, weighs around 100kg, and is mounted in a sheet steel housing below the rear axle to maximise crash protection, driving dynamics and boot space.”

YOU EVEN GET AN EXTRA CLUTCH

Despite the space taken up by the battery, the C 350 e still has a boot capacity of 335 litres.

The battery can be recharged in less than two hours through a wall-box (230V, 16A, 3.7kW single-phase) or through a domestic socket, also in about two hours (230V, 13A, three kW).

The car has two clutch units, a normal one taking drive from the seven-speed auto transmission and a second delivering torque from the electric power.

MB-SA says the car will make 100km/h in 5.9sec and top speed of 250km/h and have all the characteristics of a hybrid vehicle:

Silent start: The vehicle starts virtually silently and initially runs in 60kW electric mode.
Boost: The electric motor also kicks in to add to the output of the combustion engine by that 60 kW – for example, for rapid acceleration.
Energy recuperation: Charge is sent to the battery pack during deceleration and braking – just like a Formula 1 car for later use. When the brake pedal is depressed the resistance of the electric motor initially takes on the job of decelerating – in effect becoming a super alternator.

If harder braking is required the disc brakes join the effort though the changes will be barely perceptible to the driver and passengers.

DOUBLE-TAP SIMPLY CHANGES THINGS

If, while in battery mode, the driver feels resistance from the accelerator he will know that maximum electric performance is being delivered. Further foot pressure will fire up the petrol engine.

A double pulse from the ECO Assist function tell the driver to lift foot to switch off the combustion engine and save fuel.

The car has five driver-controlled operating and three transmission modes with selection choic indicated by a display in the middle of the instrument cluster and covering drive system, chassis and suspension, steering, ECO driving and aircon.

S + Sport+: Maximum boost performance, very sporty gear changes, engine always active, stiff suspension.
S Sport: Enhanced boost performance, sporty gear changes, the combustion engine is always active, stiff suspension.
C Comfort: Boost performance and recuperation optimised for comfort and reducing fuel consumption, electric drive/engine shut-off possible up to 130km/h, comfort-orientated standard settings.
E Economy: Boost performance consumption-optimised, recuperation minimised in favour of coasting. All-electric mode and engine shut-off possible.
ECO Assist: Activates an additional function, using the radar technology behind the standard proximity warning system. If the radar identifies a slower vehicle ahead it sends a double-tap through the accelerator pedal to tell the driver to lift foot. The car will then use the electric motor t adjust deceleration. Frequent braking, particularly in traffic, can be avoided.

HYBRID FUNCTIONS TO SUIT THE SITUATION

But wait there’s more… the can also use the operating mode switch to influence the regulation between motor and engine while already in Eco and Comfort modes:

Hybrid: All hybrid functions applied according to the driving situation and route for fuel–efficiency.
E-mode: Used for electric-only driving – for example in inner-city areas.
E-save: Battery charge status maintained – perhaps for an electric-only zone (think current central London zone). Electric driving and the boost function use limited.
Charge: Allows the battery to be recharged while driving using the engine.

The basic C 350 e comes with an Avantgarde exterior. Exclusive and AMG cabin furniture and decoration are options though all versions have superior materials and above the centre console is a central free-standing display which can be adjusted through a touchpad.

Optional is a head-up display projected on to the windscreen.

The order book for the Mercedes-Benz C 350 e sedan is open at dealers throughout southern Africa with deliveries to start in August 2016.

As with all Mercedes-Benz cars, the C 350 e will have a six-year or /100 000km maintenance plan.

Base price: R804 900.

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