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For those considering buying a Karma, are you also considering the planned plug-in hybrid S-Class that Mercedes-Benz plans to launch? Why or why not?

Wired said:
Word has it Mercedes-Benz, the people who arguably invented the car, are planning a plug-in hybrid version of it’s top-shelf S-Class sedan. Hmm. What on Earth would make Mercedes, as conservative a car company as you’ll find, consider going the plug-in route?

Perhaps the company is worried about losing customers to Henrik Fisker and his super-luxe Karma plug-in hybrid. Or maybe it wants to boost the average fuel economy of its fleet. Or…

Whatever the reason, we could see a Benz with a big battery within two years.

England’s Autocar magazine says Mercedes is rolling out a plug-in S-Class as a matter of course when it debuts the rest of the S-Class range.

“It makes a lot of sense to bundle the high-price tech option to the sort of customers willing to pay for this sort of thing,” Mercedes R&D boss Thomas Weber told the magazine. What’s more, he said Mercedes won’t offer a fully electric version of its range topper, mostly because battery tech isn’t sufficiently advanced. “It could be possible, but no. Our customers expect a certain range and a level of comfort, safety and space; such things lead to a certain weight and that won’t mean a good [battery] range.”

Motor Authority says the hybrid S-Class could be in showrooms by 2012 and the Germans plan to offer the technology across its entire range. Green Car Reports says the hybrid S-Class most likely will be based on the Vision S 500 Plug-In Hybrid Concept. The concept featured a 10 kilowatt/hour lithium-ion battery and a range of 18.5 miles on electric power through a 44 kilowatt (60 horsepower) motor. When the juice ran out, a V6 engine combined kept the car moving. It was reasonably quick, too, doing zero to 62 mph in 5.5 seconds.

General Motors even took note of this hybrid development but didn’t say whether it considered the big Benz a threat to the highly anticipated Chevrolet Volt we’ll see later this year. It probably won’t be — even if the Volt comes in at $40,000 before the federal EV tax credit, it doesn’t seem likely consumers going to say, “Should I get the Volt, or the Benz?”

Seems more likely that Fisker Automotive should be worried, because a plug-in S Class would compete head-to-head with the super-sexy Karma. Not that we can afford either one.
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