Mercedes-Benz's board member for research and development (R&D) Thomas Weber has outlined some details of the firm's powertrain strategy over the next ten years, in an interview with Autocar. Conventional powertrain development will concentrate of combining advanced with efficiencies with improved horsepower smoothness and power delivery. The company's new 4.0-litre V-8 twin-turbocharged gasoline (petrol) engine used in the new AMG-GT and C63 is a prime example. This unit has similar power and torque to the old 6.3-litre unit with massive efficiency improvements. Average fuel consumption in the lower powered version is 8.2 litres per 100 km; an improvement of 32% on the previous C63 which was fitted with the company's 6.3-litre normally aspirated V-8. The standard car's CO2 emissions are a highly impressive 192 g/km. Mercedes also wants to generate torque at lower engine speeds in future engine generations as this improves efficiency, while friction heat, wear and CO2 emissions are also reduced, and turbocharging both in gasoline and diesel engines achieves this goal. Weber said, "The name of the game is to combine driving fun with efficiency." He also said that the firm's successful Formula One hybrid powertrain programme was playing a part in the road car powertrain R&D programme. Weber said, "F1 plays a part with our new hybrid solution. The efficiency we achieve there is huge. In the past we were limited to 28-30% efficiency with combustion engines, but with our current hybrid F1 drivetrain we are dealing in the 40% range."
Significance: Weber has also outlined Mercedes-Benz's future powertrain strategy which will include increased integration of hybrids and full EVs into the main Mercedes-Benz passenger car range. Weber forecasts that in the future all vehicles will have an electric element to their powertrains but there will not be one dominant technology paradigm. He added, "Even in lane one, we will see mild hybrids using belt-driven starter-generators or crankshaft integrated starter-generators. In lane two we will have the premium plug-in hybrids and by 2017 we will launch 10 plug-in hybrids. The third lane will be zero-emissions vehicles powered by batteries or fuel cells." These multiple technology solutions to the future powertrain mix show the difficult task that OEMs have in prioritising R&D resources and forecasting the market's future make-up.