Mercedes Benz will launch its first hybrid vehicle, the new S400 Hybrid in the third quarter of the year, but the new saloon will be the first of many Mercedes hybrids as the carmaker is planning to sell petrol-electric versions of its three major model lines. Joining the S-Class hybrid will be fuel-efficient versions of the ML-Class SUV as well as a possible E-Class Hybrid.

The information comes from Mercedes Benz general manager of product management in the U.S., Bernhard Glaser, who revealed to TheCarConnection that an E-Class Hybrid, which is being studied now, could be available "in a couple of years."

Mercedes expects hybrid vehicles, rather than diesels, to play a major role in its strategy to meet rising corporate average fuel economy standards and carbon dioxide emissions regulations in the U.S., though it hasn’t given up completely on diesel technology. Other initiatives include the development of a new-generation of ultra-efficient forced-induction engines that combine the advantages of both diesel and petrol powerplants.

As for the upcoming S400 Hybrid, it combines a 279hp (205kW) 3.5L V6 engine and a 20hp (15kW) electric motor, resulting in a fuel consumption rating of 29.7mpg (7.9L/100km) with emissions of 190g/km CO2. Equipped with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission with special adjustments for the hybrid model, the car is also capable of the 0-62mph (100km/h) dash in 7.2 seconds.

An E-Class with the same drivetrain should offer better performance with lower fuel consumption due to its smaller kerb weight. However, it’s not that simple, Glaser explained. A cheaper and more fuel efficient E-Class Hybrid would likely draw away sales from the S-Class version, which is a much more profitable model for the German luxury carmaker, and this is one of the key reasons why its launch would be delayed for at least a couple of years.