Finally a Hybrid Among Hybrids. Mercedes-Benz is Singing the Blues With the 2010 S400 BlueHybrid

Travis's picture

Gasoline-electric hybrids.  So, you might breakeven in fuel costs in about ten years of careful driving.  By then, the battery will need replacing, and to fix it, it may cost you just as much as your car is worth- or more.  Are gas-electric hybrids really worth looking into?  Well, that’s still debatable, and more on that, a little later...  I firmly believe, and a lot of other “car guys” will contest, the gas-electric hybrid is an intermediate technology at best- a solution till something truly superior or sustainable comes along.

The S400 BlueHybrid

Mention “hybrid” to most German manufacturers, and they’d almost scoff at the notion.  Since the late 1970’s diesel has always been their first choice in environmentally friendly, economical solutions to a greener automotive footprint, and they’ve done well with them.  Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi/VW all offer a lineup of efficiently powerful diesels to fit the bill, even importing a handful of models Stateside.  But things are changing. 

(You didn’t think Mercedes-Benz would ever pattern a hybrid after what?  A Lexus?  Please….) 

The Lithium Ion Battery for Mercedes-Benz 

Mercedes-Benz is the first to unveil the production hybrid that uses a lithium ion battery.  The very same type of battery found in your cell phone or laptop.  But isn’t this the same type of battery as found in the Tesla Roadster?  It is- but the Tesla Roadster is an all-electric plug-in, a glorified kit-car in comparison; hardly a mass-produced, sophisticated road machine like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.    

Mild Hybrid 

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid™- is the first hybrid ever for the manufacturer; in fact, it’s actually a “mild hybrid” with an electric motor kicking-in for a few seconds at startup, mostly.  To note- even the use of the color “blue” over “green” sets this hybrid apart…  But anyway…  That’s just marketing.  It is the first-ever production car to use a lithium-ion battery, unlike most that use nickel-hydride types. 


Being a “mild hybrid,” its hybrid effect is subtle, with the thin, twenty-horse, 118 lb-ft electric motor wedged between the conventional 3.5-liter Mercedes V6 engine and the advanced seven-speed automatic transmission as found in any top-range S-Class sedan for a combined 295 horsepower.

20-horses never looked so thin 

The battery itself is about the size of a shoebox, made by Continental.  It has 32 cells, (made by Saft of Europe) and has the output of 120 volts, 0.9 amps per hour, neatly positioned in the engine bay- with the rest of the engines and motors, of course.  A cooling system tied to the S-Class’ HVAC system ensures the battery is kept at safe, optimal temperatures all the time, even while the car is parked, with the aid of a dedicated electric cooling motor. 


The engineering is so unique, that according to Mercedes-Benz, they’re confident the battery will last the lifetime of the entire car.  Now, if these were the Mercedes-Benzes of 20 years ago, I’d say that’s a good thirty years of operating service; but well, I suppose a battery that lasts as good as the car is a good estimate for “a long time.”  Whatever that is these days, I really don’t know anymore.   

The S400  

The electric motor kicks-in under heavy load conditions, engine re-starts and kicking-in at very low speeds from a complete stop; unlike most hybrids in the market that can and will drive under complete electric power, a hybrid like the S400 uses electric motors minimally- aiding in the engine stall/shut-down to a stop and from a slow start-up in stop-and-go city driving.  The whole process is silky smooth, so unnoticeable; you have to watch the dash-mounted display to know what exactly is happening if you really care at all.  


In typical Mercedes-Benz fashion- the S400 is a masterpiece of cutting edge technology, but, it comes at a price- almost $90,000.  But then again, this is a big, heavy, loaded high-performance luxury sedan; that can still do zero-to-sixty in just over seven seconds, all while still getting an additional 165 miles per tank of gas over a similar traditional S-Class.  According to the manufacturer it can get 19 city/26 highway, its some 26% more efficient than the standard S550 sedan for about the same money!  You’re even eligible for a one-time tax credit of about $1,200- something to put towards rubber floormats, wheel locks, plastic driving mugs and diecast models for the kids in the dealer’s boutique. 

The future of Mercedes-Benz? 

In comparing the S400 to its contemporary full-diesel, CDI S-Class siblings (not offered Stateside) the economy and footprint on the environment with the carbon emissions is about equal.  But the Swabians are not ditching diesel, the old diesel cycle just yet; diesel is technology they pioneered in 1936.  Don’t be shocked if a diesel hybrid is next.

The 2010 S400 maintains, that, while cars are clearly not what they used to be, alas, a Mercedes is still a Mercedes, and one that is "Engineered Like No Other Car..."

Remember those days?  I do.

Like No Other...



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arnoldsimage's picture

i shut my big screen off because of car commercials. can't seem to escape them.

ZerOhead's picture

How about monkey commercials then...

Monkeys on Wall Street that is... you won't want to miss this... (unless you've already seen it)

Enjoy everyone!!!

tip e. canoe's picture

1st link a peek inside the Treasury Dept?

stocks up! 
no dollar down
no stocks up!

Pietro_F's picture

ZH has been flacked! Mercedes-Benz has one hell of a PR machine... 

AN0NYM0US's picture


hybrid or diesel - just as long as it's an S class 

Anonymous's picture

This looks a lot like the GM truck/SUV hybrid of a few years ago - a small increase in efficiency for a large increase in complexity.

Mercedes seems to have taken a back seat to the Japanese in reliability (as I remember reading in Consumer reports a while back) but the cars are beautiful. Nonetheless, what's the economic case when the car is $90000? Is this all simply "feel good" stuff? It seems a bit gimmicky to me. Is there a competitive advantage here? Even the "green case" might not be there if you factor in the manufacturing of the battery pack.

Now, if they had a Plug-in Hybrid with a 50 mile range with Li-Ion power, that would be cool.

Anonymous's picture

You've got it all right, 102885! MB has gotten itself so far ahead in its engineering efforts that it has forgotten that most people--especially ones buying luxury cars--really just want their cars to run everytime they turn them on. If you want high-priced, under-performing new tech w/o reliability, you'll like the new blue MB; otherwise, find a more practical auto.

topshelfstuff's picture

"""Now, if they had a Plug-in Hybrid with a 50 mile range with Li-Ion power, that would be cool."""

[[[ PS: i know i posted & pasted quite a bit, but i couldn't let this article go by w/o a post. so, just scan over it and do some DD, if you wish to. I have to believe, watching BYD for over one year now, that we aren't supposed to know they exist ]]]

There is. Reading this write-up with all the errors, knowing what is going on in this area, is further testimony to me of what I believe to be an intentional keeping away from US People, especially Investors, of the existance of BYD Company. I have taken special Note, and have saved numerous examples, that even when BYD Company is written-up, or one of several companies in a write-up, they never show the stock symbol, though every other company does include the symbol [ BYDDF gets most of the Volume in the US, and there is an ADR, BYDDY, that represents 10 shares of 1211.HK. 1211.HK is the Hong Kong listing.

There is a lot I could say here, but I'll limit what I'll post. Anyone interested to find Facts surely knows how to do that. Let me just paste a few items that shows how much was missed or mis-represented. I don't know if authors of articles are really unaware, but considering Germany is involved in this article, and BYD and Volkswagen already have an Agreement, this would be hard to miss, if the author just scratched the surface in a DD.

Worlds 1st Li-ion plug in series hybrid

The F3DM uses BYD's self-developed iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries, which the company said could be recharged more than 2,000 times. Charge time with a standard 220V 10A wall socket is 7 hours while using a high powered charger 3 hours full charge is possible. Due to the characteristics of iron-phosphate li-ion batteries which have very high charge and discharge rates it is possible to half charge the battery is as little as 10 minutes or 80% in 15 mins.


[ me: Note in this article, just like all the others, there is no symbol mentioned ]

BYD Auto to Unveil First Production Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Fri Jan 9, 2009 10:00am EST ========================== BYD launch world's first production plug in hybrid

December 15, 2008

The world's first mass-produced plug in hybrid and the world's first production series hybrid went on sale this week in China. On Monday, a company best known for making cell-phone batteries has begun selling its F3DM — China's first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle. The car is expected to retail for around US$20,000 (AUD$29,800) in China, and make its way to the U.S. in 2011.


BYD, short for Build Your Dream, in which Warren Buffett bought a 10% share only 3 months ago for $232 Million, is the world's leading producer of rechargeable batteries for mobile phones and laptops, among other products. BYD got into the car market in 2003, and the F3DM is a modified version of its petrol-powered F3 model. The DM in the name stands for dual-mode, reflecting its ability to operate in both full-electric and series hybrid modes. The conventional F3 (which looks like a Toyota Corolla replica) sells for about US$14,000 fully loaded, and its sales were up 36% this year through October. China's overall car sales have fallen in three of the last four months.

Worlds 1st Li-ion plug in series hybrid

The F3DM uses BYD's self-developed iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries, which the company said could be recharged more than 2,000 times. Charge time with a standard 220V 10A wall socket is 7 hours while using a high powered charger 3 hours full charge is possible. Due to the characteristics of iron-phosphate li-ion batteries which have very high charge and discharge rates it is possible to half charge the battery is as little as 10 minutes or 80% in 15 mins.


BYD and VW Sign Up to make batteries, and the future | China Car Times

May 26, 2009 ... BYD and VW Sign Up to make batteries, and the future ... If BYD gets more clients for its auto.battery, they can lower the cost and boost


BYD Auto, offspring of Chinese cell phone lithium-ion battery giant, will soon be releasing two electric car drivetrains.  One will be the fully electric F3e technology, which will allow for a top speed of over 150km/h, a 13.5s 0-100 km/h acceleration, 300km / per charge range, and and a battery life-cycle of about 600,000km. This stems from their superior Fe battery technology. The Fe-battery has such innovative advantages as low cost, zero pollution, zero noise and recyclable. It can deliver voltage twice as high as a standard Ni-MH battery, while costing less than comparable batteries.


Here are three reasons why I think BYD will become an important company in the not too distant future.

1. BYD's engineering prowess. Depending on whether or not you count trainees, BYD employs between 10,000 and 17,000 engineers and it's constantly recruiting the best graduates from China's engineering and technical schools. The Shenzhen manufacturing region, where the company is headquartered, is known for cheap unskilled labor, but BYD's competitive advantage derives from its cheap skilled labor. "They are the top of the top," Mr. Wang told me, when I visited BYD last year. This is a company that has already invented new processes (the way it makes batteries) and products (the battery in its electric car) and it is focused on innovation. Innovation appears to be Mr. Wang's personal passion.

2. BYD's forward-thinking management. David Sokol is a student of management -- he wrote a little book on the subject called "Pleased But Not Satisfied" -- and he was impressed with Mr. Wang's thoughtful and purposeful approach to building his company. So was I. Not many entrepreneurs evolve into effective leaders of global companies with 100,000 or more employees. This fact didn't make the story, but I was interested to learn that BYD is working with the Hong Kong outpost of Business for Social Responsibility. Unlike some of its domestic competitors, BYD wants to adopt best practices in health and safety as well as find ways to empower its people to improve the company. Jeremy Prepscius, the Asia director for BSR, told me: "What makes them unique is that you have a Chinese company, a big one, that recognizes the value of continuing to evolve its internal culture, and recognizes that it is not just a top-down command-and-control culture...They are somewhere between an old state-owned Chinese enterprise and a modern Japanese company like Toyota." Sokol told me that Mr. Wang seeks his ideas and criticism whenever they meet. Perhaps surprisingly, many CEOs have the confidence to act that way. On the downside, it's hard to know whether BYD has a strong bench of managers behind Mr. Wang.

3. China's commitment to clean energy. Much as I admire the Obama administration's energy and environment team, there's no way that the U.S. government is going to help U.S. car companies and battery makers as much as the Chinese government is going to help BYD. As Keith Bradsher of the New York Times reported in a page-one story earlier this month:

Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

The government will make direct grants to automakers (as we do, of course) and also provide "subsidies of up to $8,800 are being offered to taxi fleets and local government agencies in 13 Chinese cities for each hybrid or all-electric vehicle they purchase."

Read more at:



topshelfstuff's picture

since i did mention BYDDF, it wouldn't be right w/o me adding a bit more, just in case anyone takes a look. please look beyond the Auto Division. this may be hard to do, since most of any attention BYD Company gets is connected to their Autos/Vehicles, on track to sell 400,000 this year, and 700,000 in 2010. what my be more important, and is to Buffett/MidAmerican, is BYD's Battery/Batteries as the Battery Storage component to any ALT-Energy [Solar, Wind, etc.] build. you might want to search BYD Oregon, and BYD Brazil, i believe a part of the obvious, and successful move to keep BYD Company, and especially BYDDF, an investable equity for a US Investor---consider when reading earlier articles about BYDs thought of offering their vehicles here for about $22K-$25K, with a superior, safer, Battery----this kind of stuff certain people would rather be kept unknown----anyhow, that's another topic altogether----keep this in mind, BYD is much more than an Auto company---note below is GLOBAL Market Share:

BYD Auto, which is a subsidiary of China-based BYD Group, the leading provider of NiCd batteries (65% global market share) and lithium-ion cell phone batteries (30% global market share), uses BYD lithium-ion iron phosphate cells in its energy storage system.


BuisnessWeek's Top Tech's for '09 lists BYD as #33

The InfoTech 100

BusinessWeek’s 2009 ranking of the tops in tech showcases companies that managed to thrive even in the face of a bruising global recession.

How do you pick through the world’s best-performing tech companies? With the help of Standard & Poor’s Compustat, BusinessWeek combed the financial results of tens of thousands of publicly traded businesses and ranked tech players on shareholder return, return on equity, total revenues, and revenue growth. Leading the list are those with the best aggregate ranking. (For a detailed explanation of methodology, see page 42.) was No. 1 for the second consecutive year, with Oracle No. 2 and IBM fifth. One trend this year: 43 U.S. companies made the list, up from 33 last year. Still, when we launched the list in 1998, 75 were U.S. companies.

[[[ you'll find BYD ranked #33, book-ended by VERIZON #32 and QUALCOMM #34 ]]]

BYD Is Asia’s Best-Performing Stock Since Lehman (Update1)

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- BYD Co., the Chinese maker of cars and batteries, is Asia’s best performing stock since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse a year ago, helped by an HK$1.8 billion ($232 million) investment from Warren Buffett.

topshelfstuff's picture

Edit, forgot to include "Hidden" / Cloaked in this sentence:

<<< keep BYD Company, and especially BYDDF, Hidden as an investable equity for a US Investor

Anonymous's picture

"But the Swabians are not ditching diesel, the old Otto cycle just yet."

The diesel does not operate on the otto cycle. The theoretical Otto cycle by definition operates on a constant volume heat addition process while the diesel cycle operates on a constant pressure heat addition process.

I've worked on engine development programs with Chrysler, BMW and Daimler. "German Engineering" is good, but way overrated by those who don't really have inside knowledge. I've worked closely with many American Engineers that were as good or better than their German counterparts.

I agree that hybrids like the S400 are a transitional technology but believe that plug-in hybrids (like the coming Chevy Volt) will win the tech battle for future direction of the industry. Diesels are a great alternative but US emissions standards make them difficult to implement without cumbersome add-on crap like urea injection.

tip e. canoe's picture

look at this beauty:
2.8 million miles

what they should make is a hybrid greaser:
electric to start the engine & get it warm, then kick into veggie.

with that setup & the new ultra low sulfur diesel they got, they might be able to get close to zero emissions running grease...but then, that would make too much sense, right?


Anonymous's picture

"a hybrid like the S400 uses electric motors minimally- aiding in the engine stall/shut-down to a stop and from a slow start-up in stop-and-go city driving"

Once you hit the cruise-control, an electric motor ought to be able to take over. It seems backwards the way they use it for the heavy lifting of overcoming inertia.

The ability to reach 1,000+ miles on a tank of gas is a much better marketing tool to those who can afford such a touring sedan than reaching 60 in 7. Getting 21 instead of 18 in city is not what high performance is all about.

Careless Whisper's picture

Love the S class but you can't get in to lower Manhattan without a Maybach 62S Zeppelin



RobotTrader's picture

Winner of the last Mecum muscle car auction.  Sold for $350,000:

Pontiac’s 1970 Ram Air IV GTO Judge convertibles are so rare that, for
any genuine Pontiac enthusiast, seeing one today is an event in itself.
Only seventeen were built, only 12 are known to exist today and only
six were optioned with a 400 Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission. The L76
Ram Air IV engine, which became available in the GTO as a result of GM
lifting its corporate ban on 400CI-plus powerplants, is central to the
car’s pavement-ripping character. Rated at only 370 horsepower, the Ram
Air IV generates almost 450 lbs. ft. of torque at only 3,000 RPM.


But the shocker was the 1965 Ford GT sold in Monterey for $7.25 million:

Against the most feared force in international motor racing, the Cobra
Daytonas gave Carroll Shelby and the United States its first World
Manufacturers Championship. Now fully restored and wearing its famous
Reims livery, CSX2601 survives with its five brethren as one of the
most famous Cobras of all, with the best competition record of all the
Daytona Coupes, which together embody the American competitive spirit
of victory against overwhelming odds.


Careless Whisper's picture

Awesome cars Robo. I think the Cobra got a high price because of its provenance. The worthless dollar certainly helps the collectible car market too.

Here's a sample from the best car collection in the world:



Cognitive Dissonance's picture


Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I was just strutting my stuff in my late teens when the '70 "here come da judge" goat came out. While I never owned one, a friend bought the '70 GTO non convertible without the smaller V-8 and all the goodies. Nice to have 'rents with money.

He picked me up for school most mornings and the experience of pulling into the high school parking lot in that car was like no other. Rode like shit and handled worse but it was a thing of beauty and a chick magnet.


Anonymous's picture

I'll keep my electric bike for the time being. It gets me to work 20-30% faster than a car will, parking for free and it is usually the funnest part of the day. I can even pedal a bit too if I feel like getting some exercise. Costs me 5 cents each way in electricity.

ZeroPower's picture

A8 L > 755Li > S500

glenlloyd's picture

Not buying but if I were and were in the socio-economic strata that could afford one of these I would prefer it with the diesel

Cheeky Bastard's picture

if it has under 600 hp, i am not interested, but this technology is already in use in F1 and it is called KERS; ok it is not exactly the same, it is the F1 version ( meaning you will never have it ) and itt gives the car the extra 80hp for 6 seconds. Mercedes did a good job with implementing it in the new S400.

Rollerball's picture

Bring a Gauss meter with you on a test drive.  The EMF is likely to have you wishing you wore tin foil.  Water is the best fuel. 

crzyhun's picture

I love cars and women. I wished I could have both all the time. And, like my women and cars I like them authentic. No phonney baloney hybrids, green, blue, or pc.

Anonymous's picture

kid rock says:
I don't like small cars or real big women
But somehow I always find myself in em

Anonymous's picture

BTW the blue in the Mercedes technology was added with the last S-Class Diesel that increases fuel efficiency by injecting Uric-acid into exhaust (or something like that- I am not an engineer). The point is, that MB wanted to avoid any connotation with the colour yellow in their advertising so you had to inject the blue fluid to get the green effect and noone will notice that the blue fluid could be produced from yellow fluid as well ;-)