With the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid about to hit the market, the very important question of value arises. Until now, for most automakers, there has not been an opportunity to compare basically the same vehicle with hybrid and diesel powertrains. We had hoped to do that next year with the diesel for GM's full-size light duty pickups, but we know how that story ended.
Mercedes is, of course, the original builder of diesel cars and all of its models come so equipped in Europe. While the S400 Hybrid has a clear efficiency advantage over the standard gas engined S350, going from 24 to 30 mpg on the EU combined cycle, the diesel-powered S350 CDI clocks in at an even better 31 mpg. The big difference is the price. In Europe, the S400 Hybrid commands a hefty $17,100 premium over the diesel. There are likely equipment differences between the two, but that's still a pretty absurd premium. It will be even more interesting to see how the prices of the diesel and two-mode hybrid versions of the ML compare when the hybrid goes on sale late this year in the U.S.