By on April 5, 2010

If Automotive News’ [sub] dealer sources have heard right, then Daimler might sacrifice their S-Class on the altar of the almighty EPA and its newly announced CAFE standards.

According to dealers who have been briefed on the plans, all future S-class models — including high-performance AMG models — will come only hybridized. The S-class propelled by ICU only will be history. According to the Geheimplan, the switch would be made globally with the next-generation S class, due in Europe in 2013 and in North America a year later. Mercedes dealers shudder at the thought.

Says AN: “The idea is drawing fire from some U.S. dealers, who worry that hybrids are not perceived as true performers in the market.” The average S-Class customer is not all too concerned about gas mileage. The concern is at Daimler.

Two company sources told AN that the Board of Directors at Daimler likes the idea because it could help Mercedes-Benz reach strict European CO2 emissions standards and meet tougher corporate average fuel economy standards in the United States by mid-decade.

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49 Comments on “CAFE Claims Another Victim: The Mercedes S-Class...”


  • avatar
    NulloModo

    This is interesting. On one hand, you have the argument that hybrids aren’t any more environmentally friendly than traditional ICE cars when you take into account the impact from the mining of materials for their batteries and the eventual disposal thereof, and on the other hand you have a chance to see some really cool performance-based hybrids being developed.

    I think hybrids don’t have that performance reputation right now because the majority of cars that use hybrid systems are heavily weighted towards economy rather than performance, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Lexus LS600hl is a performance weighted hybrid, and Merc could do worse than following that path. Plus, the super-quiet nature of hybrids would make a lot of sense in an S-class.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      you have the argument that hybrids aren’t any more environmentally friendly than traditional ICE

      Those studies have been thoroughly discredited.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      “Those studies have been thoroughly discredited”

      Have they? When? Please link.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      You’re talking about the the CNW “Dust to Dust” study. Wiki has it, and links to refutation citations.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNW_Marketing_Research#Controversy

      Basically, the big error was assuming the Prius’ lifetime was 100K while the Hummer would exceed 330K.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      colin42,

      psarhjinian beat me to it.

    • 0 avatar

      As a Graduate with a M.S. in Geology, let me be the first to say that I don’t think the human race will last another million years…

      …and in geologic time, Earth will be around billions of years after the last human is dead. Therefore, trying to “save the environment is a waste of time” and its really about taxing people, fining people and otherwise taking their money to ensure that the middle class and rich among us live in clean habitats while the poor literally walk around in shit.

      Therefore, while I will continue to be neat and clean, I will not change my personal taste for high perforance luxury cars.

      We’ll all be dead in less than 200 years and I intend to get the most use out of my accelerator foot.

      YOU WILL HAVE TO PRY THE STEERING WHEEL OF MY S550 FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’m not a hybrid-hater, but even if with more data the study shows a Prius is more efficient than a H2, it doesn’t mean that a Prius is going to have less impact dust to dust compared to a turbo V6, efficient V8, or diesel S-class, and perhaps more importantly, that a hybrid S-class won’t have more of an impact than a traditional ICE S-class designed with efficiency in mind.

    • 0 avatar
      cwp

      Basically, the big error was assuming the Prius’ lifetime was 100K while the Hummer would exceed 330K.

      That’s a weird comparison (of course, that it’s weird isn’t your fault, it’s the fault of the study’s author). Comparing a Prius to a non-hybrid car in its class would seem to be much more worthwhile. Has anyone done so?

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      These “dust to dust” studies have not been discredited at all. The study referenced below shows an extreme comparison of a Hummer and a Prius. While an apples-to-apples comparison of environmental impact is worse with a Hummer than a Prius, they are both in the same ballpark. Given that the Hummer uses roughly six times the amount of fuel, it puts into perspective the huge amount of resources necessary to produce and dispose of a small hybrid vehicle. The reality is that the materials and manufacturing resources necessary to produce two powertrains in a vehicle are not as environmentally friendly as producing the same size vehicle with only one engine and three hundred fewer pounds of toxic batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      These “dust to dust” studies have not been discredited at all.

      Yes and no, but CNW’s is so obviously silly as to be useless. Prognosticating that the Prius would be on the road for a third of the life of the Hummer was disingenuous at best.

      The reality is that the materials and manufacturing resources necessary to produce two powertrains in a vehicle are not as environmentally friendly as producing the same size vehicle with only one engine and three hundred fewer pounds of toxic batteries.

      And the same car equipped with those batteries gets significantly better mileage and suffers less wear and tear on the powertrain. Do you have a study that proves the net energy use or environmental impact for hybrid and non-hybrid powertrains? I’ve looked and have never found such a thing. I have found studies stating that a used car in good tune is more friendly than a new hybrid, but never a hybrid versus a non-hybrid of the same type (eg, Camry vs Camry Hybrid)

      As for the “batteries are toxic”, that’s very much overblown. Nickel Metal-Hydride is not appreciably toxic (Nickel-Cadmium and Lead-Acid are, but the former is not used in cars—or anything in the last decade—and the latter is in every car) and is recycled at bounty. So is lithium, for that matter.

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      psarhjinian

      “Do you have a study that proves the net energy use or environmental impact for hybrid and non-hybrid powertrains?”

      I believe that that was what the Hummer/Prius comparison was intended to do. Since the Prius barely eeks-out the Hummer in terms of total environmental impact, I would really love to see what would happen with a vehicle of a more comparable size to a Prius. I’d really like to see a comparison against, say, a diesel Jetta or Golf. Or even against the Volt once it’s launched. I don’t even know how you’d test a car like the Volt, which won’t use any gas at all for commutes under 40 miles, or something like 500 miles per gallon for 80 mile commutes.

      “As for the “batteries are toxic”, that’s very much overblown. Nickel Metal-Hydride is not appreciably toxic ”

      It is toxic and considered hazardous material. It’s certainly not cyanide, but it does require very specific handling and containment. No one can describe the recycling process as “clean,” nor are all of the materials able to be reclaimed. That said, these processes are already factored into the calculation of the Prius’s environmental impact. Which, as we can probably all agree based on corrected calculations of the published report, is only slightly better than a full-sized Hummer SUV. So either a Hummer is much greener than everyone thought (it’s not) or the Prius is much more environmentally harmful, which it is.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Blue,

      The Hummer and Prius was only similar when you assumed the hummer would go 330k miles and the the prius would last 100k. Since when does a 3:1 advantage = “barely eeks-out”

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      JMO… read the study again.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    If this is Daimler’s solution to tightening world-wide emission standards (which, for the US, is a by-product of CAFE regs), why does the headline make it look like CAFE forced Daimler’s hand?

    @Nullo: I’ve heard that argument about mining and disposal of battery materials, and ask myself why not post-use recovery and reuse instead of disposal … I don’t know the answer, if it is a technical (chemistry-based) issue, or just an economic one (still cheaper to mine in Bolivia than to recycle in Peroria)…

    I’d like someone to give some insight to this sometime…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Most batteries are recovered, where facilities exist. In the case of phone batteries (LiIon, LiPolymer) the carriers usually give you little baggies with your new phone to exchange your old.

      Many jurisdictions take NiMH cells back, as do many companies (Home Depots usually have drop-boxes for NiMH cells, for example)

      In the Prius’ case, Toyota pays a significant bounty for the NiMH pack. I assume, but don’t know, if Honda et al do as well. I assume they do because they’re paid a bounty in turn.

      In all cases, the deciding factor is consumer laziness.

  • avatar
    tced2

    I’m waiting for the announcements that large autos like the S-class just won’t be available in the US anymore. They’ll be selling like hotcakes in China and they won’t bother to try to sell them in the US because the profits from the China sales will be very good. The folks in the District of Control will declare victory.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    What, no diesels?

    How much weight could they lose by, say, going to an aluminum unibody with carbon-fiber body panels & roof? If there’s ever supposed to be a superlux car, without Maybach the S-Class is supposed to be it.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      I think weight reduction is an anathema to German engineers. For example, each new BMW adds more aluminum to its construction, yet the Ultimate Driving Machines only get heavier.

  • avatar
    bmoredlj

    Personally, I’d prefer a combo of diesels, hybrids, and a base lower-displacement gas(petrol) engine. Still, most luxury hybrid barges perform better than their conventionally powered counterparts (save AMG models) and are more geared toward performance than dramatically higher mpg, so buyers wouldn’t be sacrificing anything. I imagine they would cost more, but if someone can afford an S-Class, does even a $5K price hike really mean anything? For some fancy lawyers, it’s a difference of an hour’s pay; two tops. Hardly victimization. This is no less outrageous than Lambo’s decision to nix manuals, following Ferrari’s lead. TTTAAC (The Times They Are A Changin’.)

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I’m sure Audi will applaud this decision. My aluminum A8 gets about 25MPG highway, far better than my brother’s V8 S-Class of the same vintage, which weighs about 800 lbs. more.

  • avatar
    crc

    Don’t greatly plublicize the fact that it is a hybrid to U.S. customers and don’t put any hybrid badges on it, and half the S Class owners won’t even know the difference. If most BMW owners don’t know which wheels drive their cars, what makes Daimler think S Class owners are going to care about or even realize they have a hybrid powertrain.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The idea is drawing fire from some U.S. dealers, who worry that hybrids are not perceived as true performers in the market

    Then don’t badge them as hybrids. Sell the system as “Gastronic Engine Management” or somesuch. I mean, how much of a “performance feature” is laser cruise control or massaging seats?

    Never mind that the average North American S-Class lives no more of a performance lifestyle than a Lincoln Town Car. Possibly less, given how cabbies drive.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Meanwhile, Lexus just passed Mercedes in US sales for 2010.

    http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100402/OEM/100409967/1292

  • avatar

    Why not scrap the S class completely? Huge cars like that make no sense. Really, there can be no intelligent case made for huge cars like the S calls, or the 7-series BMW. E class is big enough. The vast majority of people would happily fit in the C class.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      If you can sell them and they add to your bottom line, why not? People don’t need a 52″ HDTV or granite countertops where Formica will work just fine.

      Of course people don’t ‘need’ ultraluxury things, but cars are far from the only luxuries that use up resources. They all do.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Name another car that can take a 6′+ driver with a 6′+ passenger seated behind, leaving at least 6″ of kneeroom.. Not everyone is a tiny little shorty short short..

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Name another car that can take a 6′+ driver with a 6′+ passenger seated behind, leaving at least 6″ of kneeroom

      From what I recall, the B-Class has almost as much useful passenger space as the S, and the R has much, much more.

      Mind you, I believe the Nissan Cube can pull that off (I’m 6’8″ and can sit behind myself). And then you have the 2011 Sienna’s barcalounger second row.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Lincoln Town Car and MKT, for starters. In the latter case, the rear passenger will have adjustable lumbar support and recline, as well as his own media system.

  • avatar
    thalter

    I think some aspects of hybrid technology are going to be pretty much universal before to long, and I don’t think this is a bad thing. For example, engine stop-start will likely be standard on all but the cheapest cars in the next several years.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    While every brand luxury brand has been accused of selling out by offering brand-diluting cars like the 1-series, X-Type, or Cimarron, this category of full size luxury sedan is the real deal. In the US and Canada, the S-Class, LS series and 7 series make up ~10% of their brands’ sales, so in most locations you’ll only see 1 for every 100 cars on the road. It’s rare enough that you won’t be borrowing one from your local rental shop, but aspirational enough for people to want one.

  • avatar
    whatsanobeen

    That’s odd. Every other auto news outlet reports that all S-Classes with the exception of the AMG models will use hybrid engine tech.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Wow, talk about misleading headlines. But I suppose one does what is necessary for page views. The uniformed will quickly jump to the conclusion that the S-class is being canceled and that it is being done on orders from the EPA.

    S-class customers are not going to avoid the vehicle just because Daimler added a battery pack and electronics. If indeed the dealers are angry, they shouldn’t be. Do current S-class customers fail to buy the vehicle because of the fines already being tacked onto it for failure to meet current CAFE requirements? Y’all do realize that present US buyers of a new S600 pay a $3000 gas guzzler tax on each new one, yes?

    • 0 avatar
      bjohnson

      “The uniformed will quickly jump to the conclusion that the S-class is being canceled and that it is being done on orders from the EPA.”

      Why do you think that people in uniform jump to conclusions?

    • 0 avatar
      Areitu

      Because the headline makes the implication that Mercedes’s solution for higher CAFE standards is to stop selling the car here. For something so expensive, the S-Class is quite the volume seller. Just because the car turns itself off at stops and goes 20mph with the engine off doesn’t mean people suddenly stop buying it. It’ll likely be carefully marketed.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    In the high end luxury and performance markets, emotional appeal plays a definite part.
    There’s something more primal about a car propelled entirely by petroleum products versus a car powered by gas and electric
    Think pure butter vs a butter/oil blend.
    How about a future Indy race consisting of precise high speed cars powered totally by electricity.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Why is the headline CAFE claims another victim? Looks like the change is global and also needed to meet new Euro emissions standards.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Bertel – how does a planned change in drive-train make the S class a victim of CAFE? It seems to insinuate that the S class will be going away (which is good for getting readers to click on the article) but all this is is a change in the drive technology to meet stricter standards in the US as well as Europe. I’m sure they will still be fast and luxurious but simply more efficient.

  • avatar
    littlehulkster

    So wait, the S-Class will still exist, but with Hybrid powertrains and it’s a “victim” being “sacrificed at the altar”?

    That choice of words seems a wee bit sensationalist to me.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Global Laming is here.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Dear Bertel,

    Please do not ever again post such misleading headlines and pre-jump lines. If you keep it up, I (and likely many others) will leave this site for others which possess greater journalistic integrity.

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Dear Bertel,

    Please feel free to post whatever the hell you want to post. I don’t agree wth some of the things that are posted on this site, but nothing worth threatening to stop coming to this site. Trust me, I’m speaking for the majority.

    By the way, CAFE and other regulations like it ARE victimizing autos. Not so much in a mass extinction kind of way, but more like a lobotomized Jack Nicholson from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ kind of way. The swagger is being taken away by well meaning ‘nurses’ that have a bit of a control problem.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The 1965 — 1972 S class — the W109/W109, was 197 in (5 m) long and weighed, depending on engine, between 3,650 lbs and 4000 lbs in the W109 SEL variant. The latest W221 is 200 in in the short wheelbase model and 205 in long, but the range of weights is telling from 4,310 lbs [S320 CDI] to 5,000 lbs [S65 AMG]. what I would like to see them do is produce a 197 in long, 3,400 lbs car with a 300 hp straight six. I think it would be a lot more fun to drive, and get decent mileage. A similar program down the line would produce better cars without gas guzzling.

    • 0 avatar
      hans007

      with all the safety standards now it will never weigh 3400 pounds and be 197 inches long.

      since when has any car that long been that light.

      besides they already make a car that is almost that. the E class is 192 inches long and as the e350 weighs 3800 pounds. in europe the cgi variant has 291 hp.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    In my opinion the customers will largely not be bothered – slightly better mileage and better torque low down will be easy to get used to. Dealers on the other hand will have the higher complexity of a hybrid to contend with and are probably a bit ill prepared for that at the moment. So they will need to shoulder quite some of the costs to get themselves up to speed on maintaining the hybridised S-class and that is what they dislike. Not surprising really – on the other hand it might force Mercedes to be a bitm ore thorough with ironing out all its electrical gremlins before the cars are sold than was the case with some of the last offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      Areitu

      Knowing Mercedes, and the number of sensors crammed into the car, their diagnostic machines could probably tell a tech what you ate when you burp, and which seat you did it from. I’m sure they’ll iron out all the powertrain quirks, but the interior electronics…probably not so much.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    2013: Purchase today your new Mercedes S 660.23, powered by an innovative 2.3 I-4 dual-spark engine coupled with today’s most innovative Duracell-developed battery technology. Financing at 0.9% up to 36 months OAC

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    Regarding some of the earlier questions about the CNW “dust to dust” study, I found this story helpful. The source is obviously not unbiased, but the reporting fills in a lot of key details about what CNW was actually calculating and why the company’s conclusions need to be taken with a huge block of salt.

    http://www.hybridcars.com/environment-stories/dust-to-dust-energy-costs.html

    As for the headline on this story–well who am I to tell TTAC how to run their site? This kind of hyperventilating just looks silly to me. Then again “Next-Gen S-class to Get Better Mileage” probably wouldn’t have attracted quite as much response.


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