Mercedes-AMG will develop plug-in hybrids and pure electric performance cars in future

Mercedes’ performance arm, AMG, is famed for its Teutonic muscle cars with outlandish power and torque outputs, delivered by large displacement petrol engines. But it has now announced that its future strategy is based firmly around electrification to the extent that pretty soon, most AMGs will come with a plug.  

Mercedes-AMG is calling its electrification programme E PERFORMANCE, and we assume the all-caps means they’re serious. The technical detail that AMG has gone into also shows just how dead-set on an electrified future Mercedes’ performance arm is. It is even mooting a ‘Project ONE’ hypercar (pictured).  

There are two main pillars to AMG’s E PERFORMANCE strategy: the first is based on performance hybrids and the second is on fully electric cars using the new Mercedes Electric Vehicle Architecture. The second of these two pillars will predominantly take the premium-class Mercs and elevate them through the AMG tweaks we’re used to on ICE-powered models.  

AMG performance plug-in hybrids  

In PHEV guise, Mercedes-AMG is developing a modular powertrain which will use its four- and eight-cylinder engines in conjunction with a relatively powerful electric motor, at the same time offering 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive. AMG is calling this setup the P3 hybrid. 

Up to 201bhp and 236lb-ft of torque will be available from the electric system, with the electric drive unit located on the rear axle and – like a Porsche Taycan – having an integrated two-speed gearbox to maximise power delivery and efficiency. This also circumvents the nine-speed transmission which will simply deal with the petrol engine’s power. An E-diff adds to the dynamic possibilities from the system.  

Much is being made of the direct trickle-down of tech and knowledge from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, especially around battery technology for the E PERFORMANCE hybrids. Ultra-efficient cooling and very high levels of recuperation are two of the stand-out features in this regard, alongside the fact that regardless of driving mode, the full output of the electric system will be available thanks to an “always on” operation strategy.  

The battery AMG is currently developing is just 6.1kWh in capacity, with the ability to discharge at 70kW continuous and 150kW for 10 seconds. This is obviously a small unit and has been designed very much to offer maximum performance for minimal weight. However, it is fully scalable so AMG could increase the capacity and is examining the requirement to do this.  

Depending on the application, AMG has calculated that 805bhp and 738lb-ft is possible from the E PERFORMANCE hybrid powertrain – which is a lot. What is actually going to happen – to start with, at least – is the system will combine with AMG’s M139 four-cylinder, turbocharged engine which has an ultra-high specific output. At 442bhp, when combined with the 201bhp electric motor the system will easily outclass current V8 motors with the added benefit of zero-emissions capability.  

All-electric future 

The first AMG battery electric cars will be based on Mercedes EQ architecture and will essentially be AMG’d versions of the regular Mercedes cars. This will mean styling enhancements, uprated chassis and handling, brakes and even uprated drivetrains. Sound will also be taken into account, with an “AMG sound experience” using the interior and exterior audio functions to offer a unique audio experience.  

Fortunately, Mercedes’ forthcoming EQ models will already have performance suitable for the AMG badge, with performance on-par with the current 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8.  

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