What is the benefit of making a hybrid version of a large luxury vehicle such as the S Class Mercedes Benz?  The benefit is significant fuel savings over its gasoline powered counterpart.  The fuel savings is more significant than one might first think.

For comparison purposes, the lowest priced and least powerful S Class sold in the U.S. is the Mercedes S550.  The S550 achieves a combined rating of approximately 17 mpg in real world testing, the upcoming Mercedes S400 hybrid expects to return a combined rating of 30 mpg.  The numbers are approximately an 80% improvement for the hybrid version.

If you look at the compact class of vehicles for comparison, the numbers tell the story.  For example, a Honda Civic returns a combined mpg of 30 and the Honda Civic Hybrid returns a combined mpg of 40.  The Honda Civic Hybrid shows an improvement of approximately 33 % over its gasoline counterpart.

A 33% improvement is significant, but an 80% improvement in shocking.  Mercedes is banking on the numbers above to find buyers of seven hybrid models that they will introduce to market by 2012. 

The S400 Blue Hybrid will reach several markets in the coming year.  The S400 will be sold in Europe, the U.S., and by later this year it will reach Japan.  The S400 Blue Hybrid will likely be the first imported hybrid passenger car sold in Japan when it reaches their shores this October.

Hybrids as a whole make sense to those interested in saving fuel, but for large luxury vehicles, heavy SUVs, and full sized trucks, the fuel savings is significantly higher than hybrid powertrains used in compact vehicles.  For many luxury cars, buyers pay a significant gas guzzler tax, hybrids would not be taxed, saving buyers thousands.

Source:  Green Car Congress