It's a safe bet that if one automaker does something, its big rival won't be far behind with a response. This is true no matter the country in question. So with BMW's i sub brand enjoying a firm, green standing, it seems like only a matter of time before Mercedes-Benz answers. Or not.

Speaking to Autocar, the company's head of sales and marketing, Ola Källenius, said Mercedes could absolutely conjure up an ultra-efficient sub-brand filled with unique, eco-friendly models to compete with the i3 and i8. Or, you know, it could just apply a fuel-sipping philosophy across the company's range and crush i with a far wider array of models and powertrains.

"We could choose for the purpose-made electric vehicles to create some sort of sub-brand but, right now, Mercedes is focused on investing tremendous resources into the path towards zero emissions," Källenius told Autocar. "It's something that will affect the whole portfolio."

And that's not all. "What we're going to do in terms of the road to zero emissions is invest heavily in alternative drivelines and electrification," Källenius said. "That's a very wide strategy, but it means that by the end of next year we will have 10 plug-in hybrid models, which, I think, is the widest portfolio of any luxury manufacturer."

Zing. Källenius went on to say that on top of the PHVs, MB will sell three all-electric models – two Smart-badged vehicles and the not-for-US B-Class – while its next fuel-cell model, a GLC-based CUV, will hit dealers at the end of 2017.

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