Following the report earlier this week about Mercedes-Benz filing a lawsuit against Cobasys
regarding its battery contract for the upcoming ML450 Two-Mode hybrid we contact Mercedes for a comment. Mercedes indicated in the suit that lack of funding for Cobasys from its owners (Chevron and Energy Conversion Devices) was threatening the launch of the program. Spokesperson Donna Boland replied that "court filings usually contain the worst case scenario. At this point in time, we're still planning to launch the ML450 toward the end of next year (and we'll also have the S400 hybrid)."
Boland didn't respond to questions about whether Mercedes would consider (or already has) re-sourced the program. She also declined to comment on whether the company might switch to lithium batteries and simply delay the program while it was being re-engineered. In all likelihood a company with the resources of Mercedes-Benz developed a back up plan as soon as problems at Cobasys became apparent. The S400 that is debuting in 2009 does not use the Two-Mode hybrid system but instead uses a mild hybrid system developed with BMW. The mild hybrid system uses a lithium battery provided by Continental.