When the Lexus LS hybrid first went on sale in 2007 as a 2008 model, both the public and the press gave Lexus-owner Toyota more than a little ribbing, asking why offer such a vehicle. Lexus owners, they reasoned, do not prioritize fuel economy. Worse, the Lexus LS hybrid’s mileage figures are only a few ticks better than the less expensive, non-hybrid models.
Mercedes-Benz dilemma with its S-Class may hint to Toyota’s creation of the Lexus LS hybrid and, more broadly, that automakers have other reasons beside profit when designing cars. During an interview at last month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, Daimler R&D chief Thomas Weber hinted how the Mercedes-Benz F125! concept car heralds the 2025 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. (Daimler is the parent company of Mercedes.)
Government regulations shape car designs and technologies and, according to Weber and his R&D team, will effectively outlaw the current S-Class. Fuel economy of most U.S. vehicles must average 54.4 mpg by 2025. Currently, the S-Class gets an EPA-estimated 15 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Across the pond, the European Union looks to cut carbon dioxide emissions from its average of 8.7 ounces per mile to 5.4 ounces per mile by 2020. Customer expectations, continued Weber, further add to the pressure since they expect the same S-Class driving experience in future models.
The Mercedes-Benz F125! concept car reflects Daimler’s answer to all these future requirements. Specifically, the future S-Class will most likely be an electric vehicle but utilizing technologies like hydrogen-stored “sponges” and lithium-sulfur batteries. Currently, all these technologies are still in development or used in industries like power tools.
“You’re not going to get a lithium ion-powered EV with internal combustion engine power and range,” said IHS analyst Tim Urquhart. “The chemistry is not going to allow it.”
Automotive.com take: What do you think of future vehicles fueled by non-gasoline sources? Will such technologies affect the way you’ll look at, and drive, cars especially luxury or sports cars? As always, let us know in the comments below.