Friday Flashback: The 1982 Mercedes Plug-In Hybrid Wagon

mercedes-electric-wagon-3High gas prices have forced car companies to deploy a host of new technologies, including diesel and electric vehicles, though technology has come quite far since the early 1980s. One needs only look at this 1982 Mercedes electric wagon to see just how far battery-electric vehicles have come in the last three decades.

The centerpiece of this Mercedes concept was a 1,322 pound nickel-iron battery pack the filled the entire cargo area up to the windows. Mercedes actually had to shorten the rear windows in order to include metal air vents that kept the battery pack cool. Come came from a 41 horsepower (!) electric motor that sent power to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission with a friction clutch controlled by the accelerator pedal. This minimized power loss, not that there was much power to lose.

Alone, the battery pack gave the electric Merc a range of 62 miles, and could be charged from a normal 220-volt European outlet. The two-cylinder range extender added another 30 miles of range, for a total driving distance of 92 miles, or about two hours worth of driving. See, that 41-horsepower motor could only manage a top speed of 50 mph, a main reason why this concept never made it past the concept phase, just like many of rival BMW’s pure electric concepts.

Still, plug-in hybrids are increasingly popular with both consumers and automakers, with Mercedes rolling out much more practical hybrids of its own. My, how far history has come.

Source: Ran When Parked

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.