Daimler plans hybrid Benz


Published: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 3:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 3:56 p.m.

DETROIT - Daimler AG is planning to roll out a hybrid version of its Mercedes-Benz flagship S-Class luxury sedan that uses a kind of battery already widely used in consumer electronics.

Daimler said that it has adapted lithium-ion technology to meet demanding automotive requirements. Daimler said Friday the new battery will be used in the S 400 BlueHYBRID beginning next year.

"What we have here is a groundbreaking key technology that is going to be a decisive factor for the future success of the automotive industry," Daimler Board of Management member Thomas Weber said in a statement.

Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler's announcement indicates an increase in confidence about lithium-ion technology. Other automakers are working on lithium-ion batteries.

Toyota Motor Corp. said in December it was preparing to start mass producing lithium-ion batteries for low-emission vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries, already widely used in laptops and other gadgets, are smaller yet more powerful than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in gas-electric hybrids like the Japanese automaker's Prius.

General Motors Corp. is developing the Chevrolet Volt, an electric sedan to be recharged by plugging it into a household outlet. Plans call for it to be powered by an electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries.

GM spokesman Brian Corbett said Saturday the Detroit-based automaker plans to make a major announcement Tuesday about hybrid technology at a press conference during the Geneva Motor Show.

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