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Mercedes-Benz contemplates S 500 for Australia

A plug-in hybrid is set to be the technology leader for Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class range in Australia. Indeed, there’s a better-than-even chance we’ll see the highly fuel-efficient S 500 Hybrid on sale locally within a year of its launch in other major markets around the world, according to David McCarthy, Senior Manager for Corporate Communications at Mercedes-Benz Australia.

“There are two conditions that would need to be fulfilled for us to take it. The most obvious one is right-hand drive. They’ve said that it’s going to be available world-wide…” he told motoring.com.au at the global launch of the new W222 S-Class in Canada on Friday.

“And the other issue is the cord and the plug; not the plug into the car, but the plug into the wall. We came across an issue when we were looking at getting some electric smarts.

“The issue was [if] I can describe it like this: you’ve got 110 Volts, 240 Volts – and variations in between. The electric [vehicle], in the software for the charge and stuff has to be able to handle that, or can be programmed for that – and meets the local standard for the cabling and stuff.

“So assuming [the S 500] has that, yes, we would look at taking it.”

While the car on display in Canada – its first official public reveal is at the Frankfurt motor show in September – looked ready to be shipped straight to the showroom, it is a concept, properly speaking. McCarthy insinuates that the car is being fast-tracked for production, despite its current one-off status.

“It’s a ‘concept’, but it’s obviously developed a lot further than that. I would suspect the earliest [would be] probably first quarter for some markets. Probably markets, such as Western Europe and the US will get it first.

“If it’s really just a matter of putting that stuff in it [and] it’s easily adaptable to left or right-hand drive, which it would be… same as the S 300 hybrid, where the battery pack’s under the bonnet.

“I would hope that 2014 – probably second or third quarter – it would be available to us.”

Benz has disclosed little about the S 500, other than its 75g/km CO2 emissions figure and a fuel consumption rate of around 3.0L/100km. While it’s not specifically on the agenda for Australia, it’s a much stronger prospect to join the range than the S 400 Hybrid, says McCarthy.

“We’re not taking the S 400 Hybrid,” he stated, acknowledging that the petrol-engined hybrid was developed exclusively for North America.

Buyers there are beginning to opt for diesel-engined vehicles in some sectors of the market, but large luxury sedans are not among those.

“In SUV we’re seeing a big uptick in diesel, and in some of the medium and compact cars. We’re not seeing the same uptick in larger cars. They [Americans] haven’t yet adapted, and I think one of the issues is perception.”
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