One common criticism of hybrids is that many people don’t factor in the additional energy required to manufacture them compared to conventional ICE cars. Mercedes, however, has done a total lifecycle analysis of the GLE 500e (its first plug-in hybrid SUV), and has found some encouraging news: the hybrid SUV may take 23% more energy to produce than the ICE model, but is far more efficient that its conventionally-powered cousin over the life of the vehicle!
Like PHEVs from Chevy and Mitsubishi, Mercedes’ GLE 500e is designed to operate as an EV as much as possible. The company claims an EV of 19 miles at speeds up to 80 MPH- which is approximately equal to the recommended speed limit on the Autobahn in Germany. That EV range comes courtesy of an 8.7 kWh li-ion battery pack that provides electrons to a hybrid module that adds another 116 horsepower for a total output of 442 HP (with 333 HP coming from the car’s V6 engine). Maximum torque is 479 ft-lbs, which is enough to blast the GLE 500e from 0 to 62 MPH (100 km) in just 5.3 seconds. (!)
The company’s analysis also show that the GLE 500e has carbon dioxide emissions that are 37% lower than the conventional GLE. That is computed using a normal mix of sources for the European electrical grid. If electricity from renewable sources is used, the GLE 500e generates 58% fewer emissions than the “pure” ICE variant.
Overall, once the vehicle is placed in service, Mercedes figures show it uses 42% less energy than the conventional model. In other words, it takes more energy to build, but uses substantially less energy over its lifetime. Obviously, where the electricity comes from to recharge a plug-in or electric car has a big effect on how low its emissions will be. Electric car skeptics like to say that a Chevy Volt that drives only in West Virginia, where virtually all the electricity comes from burning coal, may have a higher total emissions than a gas-powered Honda Civic HF.
Mercedes-Benz says that it will continue to analyze the lifecycle efficiency of its first plug-in hybrid SUV and expand its analysis to include other markets where it’s being sold, like the US.
Source: Mercedes-Benz, via Gizmag.