Click above for a gallery of ML450 hybrid spy shots

Thanks to an alert reader, we have a few snapshots of what appears to be a Mercedes-Benz ML 450 Hybrid prototype braving the snowy climes of suburban Detroit. At first glance, it doesn't appear all that different from a standard ML SUV, but the red HEV stickers on the rear, sides and hood of this tester gave its identity away. First previewed at the Frankfurt Motor Show all the way back in 2007, the German automaker has faced a number of obstacles bringing the hybrid to market, not the least of which was a lawsuit against battery maker Cobasys for reportedly breaking its contract to supply nickel metal hydride packs for the hybrid 'ute.

This SUV will be the first vehicle from Mercedes-Benz that uses the sophisticated hybrid drivetrain technology jointly developed with General Motors, Chrysler and BMW. Underhood lies a direct-injected 3.5L V6 that's mated to the two-Mode automatic transmission that the consortium will also be providing to BMW for use in the upcoming X6 ActiveHybrid. Thanks for the tip, Andres!

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