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European CO2 regulations are driving every carmaker to previously unthinkable solutions in order to reduce emissions. And so far those unthinkable solutions, like a turbocharged Ferrari, have been pretty good. AMG has its development eye on the year 2021, when EU regulations will include every car sold by Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler when calculating fleet average emissions, and says that the deadline could mean a hybrid AMG by 2020.

Those are the words of the company's R&D boss, Thomas Weber, to Autocar. Weber says a hybrid system right now wouldn't work only because AMG customers "wouldn't buy it." In five years, though, not only will the pressure have forced the situation, but the low-six-figure segment might also be populated by heresies like a diesel and hybrid Bentleys, and a hybrid or electric Porsche 911, to break the ice. Acceptance is coming down from the top via supercars like the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918, and up from the bottom with the near-term incorporation of electric turbos and e-boost systems. And whenever the German challengers to Tesla arrive, that will be another huge step to changing the public's mind.

E-boost is what Weber said the division is looking at right now, perhaps like the kind in Mercedes' Bluetec Hybrid that employs an innocuous battery and motor. Regenerative braking would keep the battery charged. Weber said he likes it because it's proven, it's light, it's cheap, and it's already used in high-volume applications. But we would not be surprised to see a more robust implementation by the time 2020 gets here.

R&D boss Thomas Weber has confirmed that petrol-electric AMG performance cars could be on sale by 2020.

Weber has said Mercedes is looking at adapting its current hybrid powertrain technology for use by its AMG performance division, with production cars likely to arrive by the end of the decade.

Weber told Autocar there is increasing pressure on AMG to reduce the CO2 output of its model lines and the most effective way may be to apply its existing hybrid technology.

“Every car line has to reduce fuel consumption — even AMG,” said Weber. “No one part of our business can be carried on the back of another. It’s a huge task to reduce AMG fuel consumption but we’ve realised that it’s also a huge opportunity.”

The EU’s latest weighted CO2 emissions regime gives Mercedes parent company Daimler a target of 101g/km to aim for by 2020. In that year, 95% of the company’s overall European sales volume will need to conform, but in 2021 all of its new cars will count towards the average. If the target is missed, Daimler will be obliged to pay hefty fines.

“We haven’t done it so far, because right now the customer wouldn’t buy it,” Weber said. “AMG customers tell us they want the sportiest performance option available in any given sector of the performance market. We don’t know when they will be ready for hybrid.

“But in our development department, we are already planning for the time when we will have to offer them something special. We have to be prepared that, by 2020, it could be necessary to introduce an AMG hybrid.”

Weber also gave guidance on the technology under consideration.

“A simple e-boost solution [similar to Mercedes’ current Bluetec Hybrid set-up, with a relatively small battery and motor] could help us to add power and regenerate energy by braking,” he said. “It also has the advantage of already being in large-volume production. The system has to be light and cheap.”
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