The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) Mercedes-Benz introduced earlier this year has now undergone a lifecycle analysis of energy consumption starting from manufacture through to daily use. The analysis shows the overall as well as phase-specific lifecycle details and the conditions under which the GLE 500 e PHEV is most efficient.
Part of the GLE family of sport utility vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 500 e 4MATIC (called the 550e in the US) is the company's first plug-in hybrid SUV. It has an all-electric range of 30 kilometers (19 miles) and an all-electric top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph). These match the speed recommendations posted on the German autobahn, which Mercedes says is not a coincidence. The goal of the 500 e was to build a vehicle capable of operating using only electricity as often as possible.
The complete powertrain in the GLE 500 e is a V6 direct-injection gasoline engine that outputs 333 horsepower (245 kW) mated to a hybrid module that outputs 116 hp (85 kW) as part of the seven-speed automatic transmission. Power for the module is provided by an 8.7 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Peak torque output is 479 pound-feet (650 Nm) and peak horsepower is 442 (325 kW). This gives a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration of 5.3 seconds for the SUV and a top speed of 152 mph (245 km/h).
The lifecycle analysis of the GLE 500 e was done in comparison to its convention gasoline counterpart, the GLE 500 4MATIC. The emissions difference can be very wide, with the CO2 emissions of the plug-in GLE coming in at about 37 percent lower on a European electrical grid mix and up to 58 percent if renewable-sourced electricity is the only use for charging.
The analysis also found that phases of the SUV's lifecycle vary in efficiency. The energy required to produce the PHEV versus the gasoline-only GLE is higher, requiring about 23 percent more. Once the vehicle is operating on the roads, however, energy requirements reduce significantly due to operational efficiency differences.
With renewable energy charging the batteries for the lifecycle of the GLE, primary energy savings for the PHEV versus its counterpart are about 42 percent – the equivalent of about 4,385 gallons of gasoline.
Mercedes-Benz says that it will continue to analyze the efficiency of its first plug-in SUV and will include other markets where it's being sold.