Tony O'Kane | Sep 16, 2008

Word around town is that Mercedes Benz expects 20 percent of its new car sales to be hybrid vehicles by 2015, and will embark upon a program of launching a new hybrid model every year from 2009 onwards to help it achieve this goal.

Tightening emissions and fuel economy legislation - and an increased awareness of environmental issues among the buying public - has prompted Mercedes to broaden its range of eco-friendly offerings. The range right now consist of... yes, a bunch of diesels. The petrol-electric S400 BlueHYBRID is expected to launch sometime next year, while a GLK BlueTEC hybrid will follow soon after. Beyond those we don't know what to expect, but Mercedes indicates that it will continue to build fossil-fuelled cars for as long as there's a demand for them - another 20 to 30 years, by M-B's estimates.

While it's good to hear that Mercedes-Benz is keen to do its bit to reduce our dependence on oil, this news is at odds with previous reports that the automaker plans to remove fossil-fuel-powered vehicles from its model lineup COMPLETELY by 2015. Which do we believe? Is Mercedes backpedalling on an earlier promise, or have they simply realised their previous target date was a tad too unrealistic? We'll be keeping a close eye on this one...

Follow Tony O'Kane on Google+