According to an Autoblog source close to the project, Mercedes-Benz will go all-hybrid with its next-generation S-Class lineup in America – with the exception of enthusiast-oriented AMG models. The plutocrat cruiser is expected to roll up in 2012, and it is understood that gas-only S-Class models will be the exclusive preserve of the company's performance arm – the German automaker is not talking about offering both regular and hybrid variants of the same model, at least in the States.
Presently, Daimler only offers a single gasoline-electric variant of its W221 S-Class – the S400 hybrid (the range's price leader at $87,950), and it incorporates a 3.5-liter V6 with a mild hybrid assist system for 295 horsepower and 26 miles-per-gallon on the freeway. Other models in current S-Class lineup all have more cylinders and power, including the 382-hp 5.5-liter V8 of the S550 and the twin-turbo 5.5-liter V12 of the S600. It is not immediately clear if company engineers plan to downsize the internal-combustion side of the next S' powertrain equation as a result of the all gas-electric strategy. While we expect Mercedes will offer a range of CDI diesel models in European market, no such model is apparently planned for the States at this time.
While the Daimler board has yet to sign-off on this plan, it appears to be all but certain. Interestingly, our contact indicates that S400 sales are going swimmingly in the States – particularly among Hollywood's green-minded glitterati, a contingent that our source maintains is abandoning their Priuses at a furious rate now that the model has become "something of a pariah" due to Toyota's recent troubles.