At least a few people scoffed at the idea that Mercedes-Benz — that gasoline-burning, performance and luxury brand — would come out with a line of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. Fair enough, but when the EPA rated the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive at 84 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), it was considerably lower than the BMW i3, the Ford Focus Electric, and Volkswagen e-Golf, to name a few. Since electric vehicles consume more energy to produce, we wondered if a Mercedes electric car were any better for the environment overall when compared to the brand’s gasoline models. Here’s what we found.
Mercedes B-Class electric vs. gas
TÜV, the independent German inspection authority that tests the environmental impact of motor vehicles, recently did a study analyzing the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive next to a gasoline Mercedes B-Class (a model not available in the U.S.). The parameters were exhaustive. Looking at the sourcing of the parts, emissions during the production process, energy consumed during driving, emissions over 100,000 miles of operation, and potential for recycling, TÜV dug incredibly deep to find out the impact of both Mercedes.
Using the European Union electricity grid, the B-Class electric offered a 24% reduction in emissions over its entire life cycle compared to the gasoline model. On a hydroelectric grid, that savings vaulted to 64%. For countries seeking independence from despotic regimes supplying oil, the numbers are convincing. B-Class Electric Drive models reduce petroleum consumption by 87% on the EU grid (90% on hydroelectric). The overall fossil fuel depletion is 32% less with the electric Mercedes on the EU standard and 66% less on the hydroelectric standard. Anyone who wants to learn more can kick back with Daimler’s 30-page report on the comparison.
TÜV also weighed in on the new Mercedes S500 plug-in hybrid. Would an electrified land yacht offer benefits over its cushy predecessor?
Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid vs. S500
A smaller B-Class Mercedes does not have the reputation for excess that its larger sibling does, so Daimler had a bigger challenge with a plug-in version of its flagship S-Class sedan. Again, it was a win for the German luxury brand on the environmental front.
TÜV certified that the plug-in S500 reduced emissions by 43% over its entire life cycle when compared to the S500 gasoline sedan on the EU grid. Working with a hydroelectric grid, the emissions could be cut up to 56%. Because of the sheer volume of fossil fuels used in the S-Class Benz, drivers are taking a much smaller bite out of the planet when switching to the hybrid model.
Mercedes has the world’s first luxury 3.0-liter (per 100 kilometers) saloon with an environmental certificate from TÜV. Would a Ford Focus or Mazda3 have a lighter impact on the environment? Absolutely, but if every luxury automaker made the same effort to cut emissions over 40% per vehicle, we’d all be a lot better for it.