WORD IS CIRCULATING in Germany that Mercedes-Benz is contemplating a plug-in hybrid variant for its upcoming next-gen M-Class SUV.
According to German car mag Auto Bild, the next-gen ML may feature a 60kW electric motor mated to a twin-turbocharged 3.5 litre direct-injected petrol V6, with a plug-in system allowing an electric-only range of some 30km.
By plug-in standards a 30km EV range isn't anything to write home about, but considering the length of the average commute it should at least produce a sizeable reduction in the ML's thirst for petrol. CO2 output is also expected to benefit, with emissions figures of 160g/km forecast.
Should the rumours prove to be true, the next-generation plug-in M-Class should offer a marked improvement over the soon-to-be-launched ML450 Hybrid (pictured). The ML450 Hybrid has a less powerful electric motor, no plug-in capability and only average fuel consumption, and at this stage appears to be a US-only vehicle.
The new M-Class is tipped to debut sometime in 2011, with sales to begin in the latter half of that year. We'll let you know when (or if) the rumours become reality.