It may look like a minivan with a power cord hanging out of it, but what lies beneath the rather suburban skin of the Mercedes Concept V-ision e plug-in hybrid might just be the future of hybrid drive technology.
Mercedes Benz is an interesting company. For large swaths of the world, it is perceived a a maker of fine, high-performance, luxury-slathered, ultra-safe cars. Mercedes is most definitely that, but Mercedes also makes tons of other stuff – buses and DTM racers and taxis and delivery vans and small city cars and Grand Prix racers.
So, although to some eyes seeing what looks like a Mercedes minivan prominently displayed on the company's massive show stand at Geneva might be rather worrisome, it's not. Don't worry, MB has got this.
"This" is the rather awkwardly named Concept V-ision e plug-in hybrid. Yes, there is a hyphen in there. No, we don't know why, other than to denote that this ride is part of the Mercedes V Class range. You can think of this as being another Mercedes technology demonstrator along the lines of the Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept car only in a much more normal looking package. Once you get past the Plain Jane exterior, the Concept V-ision e plug-in hybrid has enough gee-wiz pieces to keep the average tech geek interested for a long while.
For starters, the Concept V-ision e has advanced plug-in hybrid technology to guarantee tremendously robust propulsion for the model. There is 4-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor tied together to deliver a total system output of 245 kW (333 hp) and system torque of up to 600 Nm (442 ft lb). Which is, to use the technical term, a lot. That's more torque than a 60s era muscle car. A lot more torque. Buick Rivieras, known for being absolute torque monsters back in the day put out 10 percent less than that. And this is in a minivan.
This all translates into the Concept V-ision e sprinting from 0 - 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 6.1 seconds and topping out at 206 km/h (128 mph). So it's not going to be a real Bahn-burner, but off the line it'll be a real hoot.
On top of the sporty performance, fuel consumption amounts to less than 3.0 liters per 100 km (78.4 mpg) – not too shabby for something so big and square and powerful. But it gets even better. The vehicle can travel up to 50 km (31 miles) in the all-electric mode, making short daily trips an easy proposition.
And while you're on those errands, Mercedes gives you such niceties as the biggest panoramic sliding roof in the mid-size-van segment, bright white appointments and a brown real-wood floor, all to create "a feeling of expansiveness, freedom, and lightness."
The Concept V-ision e is also conceived as a mobile executive office. Mercedes says there are possibilities for personalizing the V-Class with numerous new comfort features, such as rear executive seats with calf support, a massage function, and footrests, as well as a large center console with thermal cup holders and a five-liter cooler. Sounds like it would be good for road trips too.
This car, or at least its drivetrain, makes sense on a whole number of levels.
"The Concept V-ision e demonstrates the potential among MPVs Mercedes will offer in the future when it comes to accommodating our customers wishes and market demand by offering greater exclusivity and more personalization options," says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. "Our pioneering Mercedes-Benz PLUG-IN HYBRID technology has enabled us to increase the output of the most powerful V-Class at the moment by 105 kW, even as we've lowered fuel consumption to the level of a compact."