Fuel economy could increase as much as 15 percent.

Mercedes-Benz will invest $7.8 billion over the next two years to become a greener automaker, and some of that cash will go toward implementing a 48-volt onboard power supply in future vehicles. The additional voltage will let the company power more efficient electric powertrain components, and it will create easy path toward giving future Mercedes' mild hybrids, according to Car and Driver. The tech will appear first in the company’s new M256 inline-six engine in the refreshed S-Class (spied above), but it will slowly proliferate through the lineup.

The increased voltage compared to a current 12-volt setup allows Mercedes to install an integrated starter generator (ISG) on the new engine. This specialized electric motor replaces a traditional alternator and starter, and it can provide mild hybrid assistance by taking advantage of regenerative braking, too. The 48-volt system and ISG also allow for quicker engine starts. Because the powerplant can fire up almost instantaneously, the stop-start system can shut off the mill practically anytime the vehicle is coasting. According to Car and Driver, ISG could cut fuel economy by as much as 15 percent.

Switching to a 48-volt power supply is just a tiny part of Mercedes electrification push. Another step will come in 2017 when a refreshed S-Class plug-in hybrid will get a higher capacity lithium-ion battery and an optional inductive charging system. According to a rumor, the German luxury brand will make an even bigger move at this year's Paris Motor Show by unveiling a fully electric crossover that will challenge the Tesla Model X. The CUV will possibly go on sale in 2019.

Source: Mercedes-Benz via Car and Driver

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