The Mercedes-Benz S550e plug-in hybrid luxury S class will likely be the first production car to offer wireless charging as a factory option.
The availability of wireless charging was announced earlier this year by Mercedes as part of a significant update of the current-generation car.
We now know that the S550e will use a version of the Qualcomm Halo system, built under license by a third party.
The current S550e offers a twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, coupled to a powerful 114bhp electric motor. The result is the S500 Plug-In, and it’s capable of more than 100mpg under optimum conditions. The pure EV range is around 20 miles.
The Mercedes S500 Plug-In makes sense for city-based chauffeurs, or those with the infrastructure required to effectively utilise a car like this. If you live less than 20 miles from the office and can charge both at home and at work, you could essentially run this luxury limo without ever filling it with fuel. Of course this is true for all Plug-In hybrids such as Volvo or Outlander PHEVs.
However, for many, exemption from road tax and the London Congestion Charge – itself worth more than £3,000 a year – will be the deal-breaker. Within four years you’ll have recouped the £12,000 premium over the cheaper S350, and that’s without considering the money you’ll save on fuel.
Now to make life even easier Mercedes are set to offer wireless charging, removing the need for a pesky cable.
The plan is to offer inductive charging as an option. This does require the retrofit in your garage to install a charging plate.
Inductive charging is basic physics at work. Running a current through a coil of wire creates a magnetic field, which in turn allows current to be transferred between two coils in close proximity, without any physical connection.
One coil is housed in a base plate that sits on the ground, while the other is housed in a receiver on the car’s underside.
For home users, the base plates are bolted to the garage floor, with the wire providing power usually running through a trench in the concrete.
Mercedes previously said the system would have an efficiency rate of 90 percent for transfer of electricity from a power source to a car.
The system in the S550e is rated at 3.6 kilowatts, which is somewhat low compared to charging systems for all-electric cars.
In addition to the wireless-charging option, the S550e is expected to get a boost in battery-pack size from 8.7 kilowatt-hours to 13.5 kWh.
While other carmakers have shown wireless charging on various concept cars, Mercedes seems to be the only one with definite plans to offer the feature on a production model.
A Kim Price of LA became the first driver of the Mercedes Benz all electric B class. Forty one cars were delivered in the month and Kim an Mercedes driver for 15 years was the first.
Price happened to be in Germany the month before the electric B-Class was officially introduced in the U.S. “I liked the looks, it was big inside,” it had the luxury Price wanted–“so I called Mercedes-Benz of Laguna Niguel and put down a deposit.”
“It’s all electric, and though there’s a capacity of 85 miles on a single charge, that’s a very conservative estimate in my experience.”
Her daily commute traffic ranges from cruising at 75 mph to stop-and-go traffic on the freeway, so access to the carpool lane is hugely important–as California commuters know all too well.
With its regenerative braking and the radar-based adaptive cruise control, Price finds that commuting the 70 miles to work–and starting with an indicated 85-mile range–she often has an indicated 35 miles of charge remaining.
The parking garage in the Sunset Boulevard building where Price works has six 240-Volt Level 2 charging stations. She notes that the smartphone app for her B-Class alerts her when the car has finished recharging–“typically about three hours,” she says.
At that point, she’ll move the car to a non-charging space or, she admits, often call the valet service in the garage and have them move it, to open up the charging station for another user.
The most pleasant surprise of her B-Class has been the high range, Price said. “I’m super-excited” at not having to “squeak by with 5 miles” to spare when she arrives at work.
She also likes “having my trunk back,” given the reduced trunk volume of her plug-in Accord to accommodate the battery pack.
On the downside, she was surprised to learn that her 2014 B-Class didn’t come with Apple CarPlay, announced for the new 2015 C-Class models.
“Plug-in geeks like technology, or at least I do,” said Price. “I want the latest and greatest, so it was kind of a bummer” not to have CarPlay in her electric car.
She would also have liked a sunroof option.
Finally, Price likes the fact that her Mercedes-Benz B-Class isn’t that common a sight on the streets of Southern California.
“Heads turn,” she said, “and I get people asking, ‘What IS that?’ all the time.”
Mercedes Benz does have a stake in Electric Car maker Tesla so we can assume there is some Tesla engineering in this B class vehicle.
UK sales should start in first Quarter 2015 with a starting price of around £32,000 before any grants.
For more details on the electric B class visit MB USA website
Mercedes-Benz confirms S500 Plug-In on route for Europe for later 2014 and the US in early 2015 according to news from Detroit Auto Show. Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler AG management board member and research and development chief for Mercedes-Benz cars, confirmed that this model is on track to go on sale this year in Europe.
“We are convinced that especially in the S-Class, the future of the plug-in concept will play a major role in congested areas for example, in areas and countries where special tax consideration is in place,” said Weber, who promised “a lot of driving pleasure” out of the plug-in.
Up against Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid, with 20 miles or more all-electric
As first detailed this past summer, the all-new Plug_in Hybrid S-Class picks up on the Vision S500 concept of a few years ago—and should go head to head with the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid.
With a 328-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 gasoline engine and 80-kW electric motor system, the S500 Plug-In Hybrid can accelerate the S-Class to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. A lithium-ion battery pack mounted in back should involve only minimal packaging differences.
Based on EU-cycle driving the S500 Plug-In will go more than 30 km (19 miles) on a charge, in all-electric mode, Weber said, emphasizing that the S-Class is a large car and the company is being conservative with first numbers, and the future models will go farther.
Longer range anticipated for C-Class Plug-In
“The smaller cars [C-Class] from the beginning will go even longer,” said Weber. “Our target is closer to 50 km.”
Both a C-Class Plug-In Hybrid and a normal C-Class Hybrid–both of course based on the new C-Class introduced this past week at Detroit–will be available, Weber confirmed, although Merceds won’t introduce those models right away, and then it’s a question of demand.
And you can expect new E-Class hybrid eventually, too. It’s all part of a modular approach, from which the main components can be easily adapted to the whole MRA (Mercedes Rear-Wheel Architecture) platform—to include the C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class.
Worldwide models…but still feeling out demand
While the S500 Plug-In will go on sale first in Europe later this year, and then in the U.S. early next year, Weber emphasized that it is a world concept, as will be the C-Class models.
“It’s only a question of sequence and what is really the demand behind the hybrids.” said Weber. “Because around all of our ‘e-mobility,’ a lot of questions are still there.”