Australians have had a particular resistance to plug-in hybrid vehicles. This is likely because, unlike most other developed nations, Australia has no tax incentives to encourage hybrid ownership, and lessen the higher initial cost.
Still, Mercedes-Benz is planning to release 3 plug-in hybrid models to test the market, and also educate people about the advantages of hybrid vehicles. The three models are the C 350e, S 500e and the GLE 500e 4MATIC. These vehicles will also compete with Audi's e-tron products.
The GLE 500e 4MATIC is expected to arrive before the end of 2015, although that date could be pushed pack depending on supply. Then it would be released in early 2016 instead.
It will run on a 3.0-liter twin-turbo petrol V6 and a 85kW electric motor that is also found in the S 500e. The combined output comes to 325 kW and 650 Nm of torque. That should make it good for 33 km of electric-only range.
Mercedes-Benz is planning to price these hybrids "aggressively and sensibly because there's no doubt that people are only prepared to pay so much of a premium for a plug-in hybrid." That means that these models shouldn't be too much more expensive than their pure petrol siblings.
Mercedes-Benz PR Manager Jerry Stamoulis says that the three hybrid models will start "an education process."
“We need to educate our current customers, because if you speak to most - not all - Mercedes-Benz customers in Australia, they’re not interested in a plug-in hybrid.”