Zetsche announced that the first hybrid model will come from the Chrysler group, which will most likley be the Dodge Durango hybrid, followed by another “mild-hybrid” from Mercedes Benz in 2009. The US will be the first market to receive the new cars, but the enviro-friendly vehicles will eventually be offered in Europe and other markets.
A mild hybrid is essentially a conventional drivetrain but with a beefed up starter motor. The design allows the engine to be shut down when stopped at a traffic light or cruising on a highway, where the electric motor can spin up the engine to suitable rpm speeds before any fuel is required. The decision to utilize a mild-hybrid drivetrain, according to Zetsche, allows engineers to reap 70% of the effect of a full hybrid system at only 30% of the cost.
The release of the DaimlerChrysler hybrid will coincide with the launch of a similar vehicle from BMW, with the two companies combining forces to push the benefits of the clean technology. Zetsche also confirmed that cars manufactured in China under a deal between Chrysler and Chery will be sold in Germany as well as the US. Pictured above is the Dodge PowerBox hybrid concept that was displayed at the LA Auto Show back in 2001.