IN an obvious dig at arch-rival Porsche, Mercedes-Benz hot tuner AMG has declared it has no interest in selling hybrid models anytime soon.
Instead it is concentrating on improving the efficiency of its orthodox drivetrains and cutting weight, as well as announcing a limited run of the zero emission SLS (Gullwing) E-Cell electric vehicle as a green flagship from 2013.
Porsche, in contrast, has developed petrol-electric hybrid versions of the Cayenne and Panamera and is working on the same for its Boxster, Cayman and 911 sports cars. It has also displayed EV technology but without revealing any production plans.
"We look at all technologies there are on the market ... hybrids have so far not met our criteria," said Mario Spitzner, AMG marketing, sales and branding director. "First of all it does add weight and the incremental function is not there for our customers."
Spitzner said the potential gain in fuel economy and performance was only marginal for a hybrid and therefore did not warrant the investment: "Our customers have clearly stated a hybrid as an AMG must have true additional assets, so therefore we have not done it yet.
"Never say never but right now the hybrid technology does not serve our profile."
Spitzner said AMG continued to work hard on efficiency, pointing to the 32 per cent improvement in fuel consumption for the new CLS63 AMG over its predecessor.
"We take this seriously and we don't lean back, you cannot afford that," Spitzner said. "So we are working hard on efficiency, but there are different ways of achieving that."
While it shuns hybrids now, the development of the E-Cell has delivered AMG the know-how and technology - electric motors, storage batteries and so on - to go down that development path if it so chooses.
The E-Cell is powered by four electric motors, produces 392kW, 880Nm, accelerates from 0-100km/h in four seconds, achieves a full recharge time under two hours and has a maximum driving range beyond 200km.
AMG Chairman Ola Kallenius explained in a separate interview why the company had elected to pursue an EV rather than hybrid.
"We asked ourselves in our engineering team ... which is the most uncompromising way we can do electrification and which project and product should we pick that at the same time can capture the true spirit of an AMG driving experience?
"That's why we arrived at the SLS E-Cell."
By the way, if you fancy an E-Cell the bad news is there are no plans for right-hand drive as yet.
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