The Hybrid Hero
Richard Augustin 
The Mercedes-Benz E 350e is an examplary luxury hybrid

Hybrids are here to stay. In the past, one Japanese car manufacturer dominated this segment. Today, that is hardly the case as hybrids have emerged as a staple offering as rising fuel prices combined with the call for lower emissions have forced brands to push the envelope in efficiency and, more specifically, electric mobility.

The result of this is an increasing number of hybrids and plug-in hybrids in the market. Local consumers stand to gain the most from this surge, especially when factoring in Malaysia’s tax incentives for these Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEV). For the amount of kit and technology these vehicles provide, along with preferential parking bays in malls and other public spaces, hybrids sound like a smart choice.

One European marque that has capitalised greatly on this new segment is Mercedes-Benz. And they have not only introduced new hybrid models but also helped charge up the electric revolution with the creation of a dedicated public charging station for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), which is situated at the basement carpark of the Bangsar Shopping Complex (BSC).


It’s electrifying

The charging stations, revealed Mark Raine, vice president of sales & marketing passenger cars, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, was an intuitive move to help spark the segment.

“There needs to be a holistic approach to electrification and that includes investment in production, infrastructure, human capital, improving the dealer network, and lots of training and education,” he stresses. “This is why Mercedes-Benz looked at creating these charging stations because we want to be the market leader.”

Although taking the lead in helping to create the first of what could be many Mercedes-Benz charging stations for PHEVs here in Malaysia, Raine points out that that it is not the role of the manufacturers to solely provide these infrastructures. “(Charging stations) are the business of other people but if our initiative can support and put a focus on electrification and also give back to our customers in terms of added value and convenience, then we’ve done our job.”

The BSC charging bays, as well as public charging facilities spearheaded by Petronas at several petrol stations in Malaysia, have certainly helped make plug-in hybrids more appealing than ever. And the timing couldn’t be better as Mercedes-Benz Malaysia begins delivery of its E 350e model this month. 

Raine says that Mercedes-Benz aims to be a market leader in the plug-in hybrid segment

The E 350e: A hybrid masterpiece

There are many attributes as to why the E 350e is so appealing, and not surprisingly, a lot of it has to do with what lies under the hood. The model prides itself on delivering exceptional driving performance with its powerful Plug-in Hybrid module that delivers a total system output of 286 horsepower with 550 Nm of torque. It can travel 33km in pure electric mode and deliver an impressive fuel consumption of 2.1/100km. But low emissions and fuel savings are not the only things this luxury model offers.

With a striking design and a luxurious yet cutting-edge interior, the E 350e exudes comfort and technological sophistication. Product highlights include Air Body Control for supreme comfort and handling, and Pre-Entry Climate Control, which allows drivers to pre-set the air-conditioning unit to cool down the cabin before entry. Drivers also get the top-of-the-line Burmester Sound System and a full Widescreen Cockpit.


Smart purchase

Although it tops the ranks when it comes to efficiency, the E 350e is more than that. Raine concurs: “The deciding factor for this vehicle is that it is simply good value and, to be honest, that’s not wrong. We need to initiate a change in the perception of the consumers, and the government tax incentives have done a lot in kickstarting the hybrid drive here and subsequently flooding the market with hybrids. New technologies always make the consumers cautious but through this step, it has compelled them to really look into, grasp, and accept plug-in hybrids.”

The figures are astounding, with Mercedes-Benz Malaysia delivering over 7,300 hybrid vehicles since its first hybrid launch here. They include the S 400 hybrid, the E 300 Bluetec hybrid and the C 350e. The number is expected to rise with the E 350e.

At the end of our efficiency drive behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz E 350e, it is clear that the three-pointed star had another hit on its hands. In fact, you may have to endure a bit of a queue before the keys to this luxury hybrid land in your hands. It is after all the future of motoring, and it just so happens to look good and drives really well too.

Engine: 2.0 turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol
Capacity: 1991 cc
Transmission: 9G-Tronic
Max Output: 211 hp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque: 350 Nm @ 1200 rpm
Electric Motor Output: 87hp/440 Nm
EV Range: 33km
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with Steptronic
0-100km/h: 6.2 seconds
Top speed: 250 kmh
Fuel consumption (l/100 km): 2.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 49
Price: From RM392,888 (on the road, without insurance) 

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 259.