Daimler will offer hybrid versions of its Mercedes-Benz C-, E- and S-class vehicles in the United States and Europe within three years to meet tightening global fuel economy standards.
Herbert Kohler, head of Daimler's E-Drive and Future Mobility unit, said Daimler is moving quickly on hybrid technologies. "We have a leading position in the premium segment concerning alternative propulsion systems, and we will defend it," he said.
A Daimler source said the C- and E-class full hybrids will be launched in Europe before 2013 and the S-class plug-in hybrid will be launched in 2014.
A second source said U.S. versions will follow about six months later.
Mercedes does not currently offer a plug-in version of its vehicles in the United States. The current S400 is offered as a mild hybrid, and the M class is a full hybrid.
A mild hybrid uses an electric motor and acts as a start/stop system, but the electric motor does not drive the vehicle by itself. A full hybrid can be driven short distances using the electric motor.
Kohler also said Daimler will continue to invest heavily in r&d this year, spending half of its $5.6 billion budget on alternative powertrain technology.