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Pontiac of the Month

Pedja's 1968 Firebird

2019 March
of the Month

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Car and Driver: Mercedes S550e to Get Increased Electric Range; V-8s and V-12s Will Continue

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2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 plug-in hybridWhile Mercedes-Benz is set to bring 48-volt mild hybrid technology to its new straight-six engine, it will continue producing meatier plug-in hybrids with higher voltages. Next year’s facelift of the Mercedes S-class will include a revised plug-in hybrid. (The current S550e is shown in this photo.) Likely to arrive in the U.S. as a 2018 model, it will carry a substantial battery upgrade that the company claims will increase its electric-only range to around 30 miles.

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The current S550e has an 8.7-kWh battery pack, but the face-lifted car will have a 13.5-kWh unit that will fit in the same space and—at around 260 pounds—weigh almost exactly the same. “It’s a good indication of the speed [at which] battery technology is developing,” Jochen Strenkert, Mercedes’ head of plug-in hybrid powertrains told us at the company’s Future Technology day in Stuttgart. The company is already planning for yet another battery-performance boost as it moves beyond the limits of lithium-ion battery technology; we’re told that by 2025, the S-Class plug-in should have twice the charge capacity and range as the current car.

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Despite the arrival of Mercedes’ new inline six-cylinder engine we’re told that the 550e will continue to use a development of the current car’s 329-hp turbocharged V-6, although it is likely to get a brawnier electric motor. The mid-cycle freshening of the S-Class will also introduce a more-advanced version of M-B’s Piloted Driving system. Given how far toward autonomous driving the new E-Class has gone, it’s apparent that the position of the S-class as the technology flagship for the brand means we can expect it to be the first self-driving Mercedes. And it’s also going to be offered with the option of inductive charging for the first time.

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If all this sounds a bit dull and responsible, don’t worry: Mercedes-Benz also assured us that it has no plans to stop producing V-8 and even V-12 versions of the Sonderklasse any time soon. “Some buyers want eight and even 12 cylinders, and, of course, we have to listen to them,” Strenkert said, even while giving the impression that six would be quite enough for him.

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