Mercedes-AMG goes electric: plug-in powertrain details revealed
Mercedes' performance arm is working on both plug-in hybrid and pure-electric powertrains for future models, with power outputs in excess of 800bhp
Mercedes' performance arm AMG has lifted the lid on technical details of the plug-in hybrid and pure-electric drivetrains it's developing for future models, which will include AMG versions of both Mercedes' regular road-car range and its 'EQ'-badged fully electric models.
The brand says its high-performance specialists have worked closely with the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team in developing the new engines, drawing on expertise gained from F1's current hybrid technical rules.
The Mercedes-AMG ONE, which sees a hybrid F1 engine fitted to a roadgoing hypercar, is one fruit of the collaboration, but it's now set to have a much wider influence on the Mercedes-AMG line-up.
Mercedes-AMG plug-in hybrid drivetrain
Two different plug-in hybrid drivetrains are being developed for future Mercedes-AMG models under the 'E Performance' name. One, which is close to production, is based on the brand's current 4.0-litre, eight-cylinder petrol engine and the other, which will follow a little later, is based on its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit. The most powerful version of the eight-cylinder setup will have a maximum output of 804bhp and over 1,000Nm of torque, for a sub-three-second 0-62mph time.
The engine will drive the front wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox, while an electric motor will drive the rears through its own two-speed transmission. Different electric motor power outputs – peaking at up to 201bhp and 320Nm of torque – will feature depending on the exact model. Mercedes-AMG is also developing its own 'High Performance Battery' (HPB) for use as part of this system, with input from the energy storage unit that forms part of the Mercedes F1 car's hybrid system. It'll have a capacity of 6.1kWh.
Cars fitted with this powertrain will offer a total of six different driving modes – Electric, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Race – each varying the total amount of power available to driver and the proportion of that power coming from the engine and electric motor. Three levels of brake energy recuperation will also be incorporated.
The eight-cylinder Mercedes-AMG plug-in hybrid engine is likely to appear first in a four-door version of the Mercedes-AMG GT flagship supercar. It's thought to be called the Mercedes-AMG GT 73 4-Door Coupe E Performance and should be fully revealed later in 2021.
The four-cylinder AMG plug-in hybrid will be based on the 2.0-litre engine currently seen in the Mercedes-AMG A45 hot hatchback, but with an electric turbocharger – another item of technology transferred from the brand's F1 engine. Mercedes promises this will eliminate the phenomenon of 'turbo lag', with a tiny electric motor spinning up the the turbo initially before exhaust gases take over. The AMG version of the new C-Class will be the first to get this new engine.
Speaking about the new Mercedes-AMG hybrid engines, Jochen Hermann, the brand's chief technical officer, said: "the layout with the combustion engine at the front and electric drive unit on the rear axle offers numerous advantages. The resulting optimised weight distribution, the best possible utilisation of torque and the very immediate power output promise driving dynamics at the highest level."
Mercedes-AMG fully electric drivetrain
In addition to the four and eight-cylinder plug-in hybrids discussed above, Mercedes-AMG is also developing a high-performance pure-electric drivetrain in order to rival the range-topping versions of cars like the Tesla Model 3, BMW i4 and Porsche Taycan.
It says AMG versions of upcoming Mercedes EQ models are being developed, which hints at hot versions of the yet-to-revealed EQE saloon, EQE SUV, EQS saloons and EQS SUV, being in the pipeline. AMG says they'll be set apart from the standard cars visually by a specific radiator grille with vertical louvres, a redesigned front apron, different side sill panels, a rear spoiler lip and diffuser, plus AMG alloy-wheel designs.
Under the metal, they'll sport a dual-motor setup for all-wheel drive; performance equivalent to the most powerful current petrol V8-engined AMG models is promised, with a sub-four-second 0-62mph time and maximum speed of 155mph. The first should appear before the end of 2021.
A fully electric AMG model was first hinted at in 2019. Speaking at that year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Ola Källenius, the chairman of Mercedes' parent Daimler, said: “We are starting to work not just on electrified AMGs, but also our first fully electric AMG”. Until now, AMG has been more famous for its large-capacity, high-powered petrol engines; it hasn’t ventured into electrification much beyond mild-hybrid versions of its twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine with a 48-volt electrical system adding some power and torque.
Mercedes-AMG did tip its toe in the zero-emissions market back in 2013 with the SLS Electric, a limited-edition version of its SLS supercar. It featured a 60kWh battery pack and produced 740bhp. It could hit 62mph from rest in 3.9 seconds and was limited to a top speed of 155mph, but it was hampered by a driving range of only 155 miles.
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