Recharge Wrap-up: Tesla firmware update videos, Mercedes S500 Plug-In Hybrid

California Calls UberPool Illegal; The Man Behind China's EV Policy

  • Image Credit: Daimler
See the Tesla Model S with Firmware 6.0 in action in new videos from Teslarati. The large software update includes improved traffic-based navigation, a calendar function, updated power management, "Location-Based Smart Air Suspension" as well as other improvements. Drivers get more route options to save energy, and more control over how the car saves energy. The car can also remember ride height settings when driving in those same locations again. Additionally, you can start and drive the car without a key, just using the smartphone app. See how it all works in the videos below, the second of which focuses on pairing with the updated phone app.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has deemed ride-hailing app Uber's carpooling service illegal. The way the UberPool service is categorized by the CPUC, charging multiple riders separate fares for a single ride runs afoul of the law. The technical details are a bit convoluted, and what supporters could deem arbitrary, but Forbes delves into the details a bit further to try to make sense of California's intentions (even considering the possibility of other ride services, such as airport shuttle companies, fueling the fire). Lyft - which operates a similar service called LyftLine - and Sidecar have also received notices from the CPUC. Read more at Forbes.

China's recent enthusiasm for electric vehicles could be largely attributed to a single person, Ma Kai. After the Politburo member was named vice premier, he encouraged maintaining and increasing EV subsidies when China sought to decrease them. He also seems ready to fight for more EV deregulation to encourage more clean vehicles. Read more about Ma Kai and what he's done for China's EV legislation at Automotive News.

Mercedes-Benz begins deliveries of the S500 Plug-In Hybrid this month. The high-tech luxury PHEV features energy saving modes based on driver, route and traffic, and features a haptic accelerator that can signal when the driver should ease off to save power. It's powered by a biturbocharged V6 and 85-kW electric motor. Its 8.7-kWh battery offers about 20 miles of electric driving. The S500 plug-in starts at about $146,000. Read more in the press release below.

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First PLUG-IN HYBRID with a star: S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID - Efficiency = Performance

The new Mercedes-Benz S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID blends an ultramodern hybrid drive configuration with the unique innovations and the luxurious equipment and appointments of the S-Class. The luxury saloon with a long wheelbase impresses with exceptional dynamism and efficiency. Thanks to standard pre-entry climate control it also offers unique climate comfort. The first certified three-litre luxury saloon in the world is a further milestone on the road to emission-free mobility. The first S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID cars go to the customers this month.

"The S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is the first luxury saloon with the performance of a V8 and the fuel consumption of a compact model. The greatest challenge in this is to translate efficiency into superior performance. In this respect there is a highly interesting parallel with our successful Formula 1 racing car, which likewise has a turbocharged V6 engine and a high-tech hybrid drive," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

"The new S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID offers our customers the entire range of innovations that make our new S-Class so successful, and thanks to its intelligent operating strategy ensures outstanding driving pleasure and dynamism combined with the highest efficiency. Moreover, it allows completely emission-free driving for up to 33 km," adds Ola Källenius, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The Mercedes-Benz S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID offers a system output of 325 kW and 650 Nm torque, sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds and can drive up to 33 km purely electrically. The certified consumption is 2.8 litres/100 km, which corresponds to 65 g CO2/km emissions. Key elements of this impressive output are the V6 biturbo and the intelligent hybrid drive.

Following the S 400 HYBRID and S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is the third hybrid model in the new S-Class. Its new high-voltage lithium-ion battery with an energy content of 8.7 kWh can be externally recharged via the charging socket in the right side of the rear bumper.

All three hybrid S-Class models have environmental certificates. These document the models' environmental performance from development through to recycling, across the entire lifecycle, and the performance is certified to internationally recognised standards by independent experts. Regarding CO2 emissions the certificate of the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID states: "Over the entire lifecycle, comprising manufacture, use over 300,000 kilometres and recycling, clear advantages result compared with the S 500. External charging with the European electricity mix can cut CO2 emissions by some 43 percent (35 tonnes). Through the use of renewably generated hydroelectricity a 56 percent reduction (46 tonnes) is possible."

The hybrid transmission is based on the 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission. The plug-in-hybrid system in the S-Class is based on the Mercedes-Benz parallel hybrid modular system. The common system-specific feature is the additional clutch integrated between combustion engine and electric motor. On the one hand, it decouples the combustion engine during purely electric operation; on the other hand, if the combustion engine is employed it affords the possibility to move off drawing on the performance of a wet start-up clutch. The clutch then substitutes for the torque converter and requires no additional space owing to its complete integration in the torque converter housing.

In order to strengthen the customers' trust in the new, innovative plug-in drive technology, for the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID Mercedes-Benz is for the first time issuing a certificate and thus a promise to perform for the high-voltage battery and plug-in components (e.g. electric motor and power electronics). This ensures that every technical malfunction within a period of six years after initial delivery or registration, or up to a mileage of 100,000 kilometres, is corrected by Mercedes-Benz.

Haptic accelerator pedal: support for the driver

Climb in, start, drive off and, as well as exemplary efficiency, on request experience via kickdown the special acceleration of the electric motor - this is how easy hybrid driving with the new S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is. For in everyday use it moves just as easily as any other automatic transmission car.

In the background, depending on the chosen operating mode the intelligent operating strategy automatically selects the ideal combination of internal combustion engine and electric motor and in so doing not only adapts its strategy according to the charge status of the battery; it also foresightedly adjusts it according to the traffic or route. But anyone wanting to can also intervene manually and with the aid of four operating modes and three transmission modes regulate the hybrid interplay themselves.

What is known as the haptic accelerator pedal can signal via a double impulse when drivers should take their foot off the accelerator for sailing and recuperating. During electric operation it can supply the driver with feedback on the switch-on point of the combustion engine. The energy flow is shown in all operating states in the instrument cluster and in the central display, if this is selected by the customer.

The technical data at a glance:


Internal combustion engine:

Number of cylinders/arrangement

Mixture formation

High-pressure injection, 2 turbochargers
Displacement (cc)

Rated output (kW/hp at rpm)

245/333 at 5250-6000
Rated torque (Nm at rpm)

480 at 1600-4000
Electric motor:

Output (kW)

Torque (Nm)

System output (kW/hp)

System torque (Nm)1

Consumption combined from (l/100 km)2

CO2 emissions combined from (g/km)2

Efficiency class

Electric range (km)

Charge time 20%-100% (400 V/16 A - 230 V/8 A)3 (h)

2 - 4.1
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)

Top speed (km/h)1

Top speed electric (km/h)1

Price (euros)4


1 Electronically limited, 2 In accordance with NEDC, 3 Charge time at 230 V/8 A e.g. at a commercially available socket. Through settings on the control element of the charging cable shorter charge times can be realised (standard setting: 8 A), provided that the power supply system is designed for this. Charge time at 400 V/16 A e.g. at a wallbox. The voltage and current ratings indicated refer to the power supply infrastructure and can be limited by the car. 4 Sales price in Germany, incl. 19 percent VAT

Extensive standard equipment, extended pre-entry climate control

The standard equipment in the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is extensive and offers a world premiere: the extended pre-entry climate control. This is target value controlled. meaning that at the start of the journey the S-Class is air conditioned to the preset temperature if the driver has entered the departure time, via Mercedes connect me, for example. This is possible due to the electrically driven refrigerant compressor and electric heating elements for the heated air. In addition to this, when preheating it is not just the interior air but also the seats, steering wheel and armrests in the doors and centre console which are heated, and when cooling the seat ventilation is also activated if the respective optional extra is on board.

Also standard in the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID, which is only available with a long wheelbase, are for example LED High Performance headlamps and LED tail lights, leather upholstery, COMAND Online, touchpad, THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control plus seat heating also in the rear, Memory package for driver and front passenger, ambient lighting in seven colours and the air suspension AIRMATIC with continuously variable damping system. The basic safety equipment includes PRE-SAFE®, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS (collision warning including Adaptive Brake Assist), ATTENTION ASSIST, PRE-SAFE® impulse, Crosswind Assist and Traffic Sign Assist (traffic sign recognition incl. wrong-way warning function and display of speed limits in the instrument cluster). Over and above this a multitude of unique optional extras is available.

The Mercedes-Benz hybrid strategy: emphasis on plug-in drives

Following the S 400 HYBRID and S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is the third hybrid model in the new S-Class. The series production launch of this technology began at Mercedes-Benz in 2009. The company is up there among the leaders in the field of purely electric mobility, too. In the years to come the main emphasis will be on plug-in hybrids.
Hybrid drives, the combination of internal combustion engine and electric drive, help cut overall fuel consumption and boost performance, since the electric drive replaces or supports the combustion engine whenever the engine characteristics are unfavourable - normally in part-load operation when little power is required.

The largest potential for lowering the energy consumption of hybrid drive systems lies in maximising energy recovery during coasting and braking. Upon depressing the brake pedal the deceleration is initially effected by the electric motor and not by the disc brakes. The hybrid models of the new S-Class are the first to use a recuperative braking system of the second generation. It ensures an unnoticeable overlapping of the conventional mechanical brakes and the electric braking performance of the electric motor in generator mode.

Intelligent operating strategy

For efficient operation, foresighted driving, avoiding unnecessary braking and accelerating manoeuvres, has always been the best strategy. This gains an all new importance in a hybrid model: braking manoeuvres serve not only deceleration, but can also be used to recuperate energy. And the route has considerable influence on the most efficient charging and discharge of the high-voltage battery.

The intelligent operating strategy supports the driver comprehensively yet unobtrusively to achieve the most efficient driving style. The control strategy, for example, seeks to ensure that the battery, if at all possible, is flat at the end of an uphill stretch so that it can be recharged going downhill. Another key point is the requirement that urban areas be reached with a fully charged battery, if possible, so that the vehicle can be operated in stop-and-go traffic electrically - frequently and efficiently.
In the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID the energy management system basically covers these three areas:

- route-based: automatically or by way of four operating modes
- driver-based: by way of three transmission modes
- traffic-based: with the aid of radar.

Charging: power from a socket

The battery of the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID is safely fitted into the rear end of the S-Class to save space. An intelligent on-board charging system enables the battery to be charged at any conventional household power socket. The supply of electricity to the car will be made even easier in future through inductive, cableless charging.

The S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID stores electric energy in a lithium-ion battery on lithium-iron phosphate basis. The water-cooled energy storage unit has an overall capacity of 8.7 kWh, a total weight of 114 kg and a spatial volume of 96 litres.

To ensure highest levels of crash safety and dynamic handling and also maximum boot space, the housing is made of die-cast aluminium and the high-voltage battery is located in the rear of the vehicle above the rear axle. The space available there is put to optimal use, and the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID thus takes first place among the plug-in hybrids in terms of boot capacity (395 litres) and luggage compartment accessibility.

The high-voltage battery of the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID can be charged via external electricity mains using a 3.6 kW on-board charger. The unit is permanently installed in the vehicle and charges single-phase up to 16 A. The connection for the charging cable is located under a flap in the rear bumper underneath the tail light on the right-hand side. An automatic lock ensures that the cable cannot be separated from the vehicle by unauthorised persons. The new S-Class can be charged in two hours anywhere in the world, e.g. at a wallbox or a charging pole (400 V, 16 A). Alternatively, charging via house connection is also possible, of course. Depending on the connection a charge time e.g. of two hours and 45 minutes can be attained (with 230 V and 13 A)[1].

Next step: S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID - unplugged

One of the next steps on the way to the perfect electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid is cableless charging. Inductive battery charging will make the handling of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids even more convenient. Mercedes-Benz will test this "unplugged" technology with the S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID in order to develop a genuine S-Class solution, in terms of comfort and ease of operation, for the charging of the high-voltage battery.

The history: leadership role in the premium segment

In 1982 Mercedes-Benz presented the first concept vehicle with hybrid drive - a two-cylinder horizontally opposed engine served to charge the battery. A number of other experimental vehicles followed until in 2009 the world's first standard-specification hybrid drive with lithium-ion battery debuted at Mercedes-Benz: this S 400 HYBRID was the most fuel-efficient petrol-powered luxury saloon for a long time. And the most successful hybrid in its segment: with around 20,000 buyers.

Based on the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission the second-generation hybrid transmission evolved. It premiered in 2012 in the E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, the first diesel hybrid in the premium segment worldwide. By combining the efficiency of a diesel engine with the advantages of the hybrid drive, Mercedes-Benz set another milestone in the development of the automobile and advanced into consumption regions of 4 litres of diesel per 100 km in the luxury saloon segment.

With the C 300 BlueTEC HYBRID Mercedes-Benz has completed its hybrid portfolio below the luxury class. Moreover, in 2014 the B-Class Electric Drive, already on the market in the USA, will also become available in Europe to supplement the hybrid range.

Growing range: All current hybrid and electric drive vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Cars

- 2012: smart electric drive
- 2012: E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID
- 2012: E 400 HYBRID
- 2013: SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive
- 2013: S 400 HYBRID
- 2013: S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID
- 2014: C 300 BlueTEC Hybrid
- 2014: B-Class Electric Drive
- 9/2014: S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID

[1]The charge time ranges between 2 hours (400 V/16 A, e.g. at a wallbox) and 4.1 hours (230 V/8 A, e.g. at a household power outlet). Through settings on the control element of the charging cable, shorter charge times can be realised even with household power outlets, provided that the power supply system is designed for this. The voltage and current ratings indicated refer to the power supply infrastructure and can be limited by the car. All charge times refer to the charging of the battery from 20% to 100%.

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