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Online Find of the Day: Lexus-engined Mercedes pickup is a vintage hybrid

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 09:30:00 EST

You have to love someone who gets incredibly committed to a very weird idea. What you see for sale here is a right-hand drive 1971 Mercedes-Benz 220D in South Africa, but this old Mercedes is now converted into a pickup, complete with bed cover, and there's big secret under the hood, too.
The pickup conversion appears well done based on seller Sedgefield Classic Cars' photos. Even the tonneau cover fits well. You could almost believe that this Mercedes lived its life as a Chevrolet El Camino-like pickup from the very beginning.
However, the rear-quarters conversion might not be the weirdest thing about this Mercedes. The original diesel is gone from the engine bay in favor of a Lexus V8. It seems really odd to pop the hood and find a Japanese mill in this German car, but the photos make it look like a fairly well performed swap. So, bravo to the crazy thinking. According to the seller speaking to Autoblog by email, "as far as we can establish, this was done a few years ago, with all Lexus components."

Mercedes-AMG GT attacks Circuit of the Americas

Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:57:00 EST

Mercedes-Benz is having a banner year with its Formula One team. Through 2014, the constructor has 454 championship points; ahead of its nearest competitor (Red Bull-Renault) by a margin of 182 tally marks. We're sure they can almost taste the champagne.
It's fitting then, and a little big cocky in a good way, that Mercedes has released a video of its newest sports car at an F1 venue. In this case, the car is the lovely Mercedes-AMG GT S, and the racetrack is Austin's Circuit of the Americas.
Having seen the official photo set and scratched the surface of the technical specifications earlier this week, we're excited to finally hear the thing run. As you might guess, the deployment of 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque from the twin-turbo V8 is a motivating experience. Crank up your volume, and hit that play button. (Oh, and Mercedes shot the thing in 4K, too, so those of you with expensive televisions/monitors should take heed to the settings.)

Mercedes-Benz to build new ML coupe-crossover in Alabama in 2015

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:26:00 EST

Mercedes-Benz will expand its factory in Tuscaloosa, AL, to build the ML Coupe, a new crossover that will join its lineup in 2015. Mercedes will also ramp up production to build facelifted versions of the M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, lifting the factory's total production capacity to about 300,000 units annually in 2015. It made 185,000 vehicles in 2013. In addition to SUVs, the Tuscaloosa site also makes the C-Class sedan.
The plans come as part of Mercedes' strategy to capitalize on Americans' increasing demands for SUVs. The company said the SUV market was up 12 percent in first half of 2014, and expects it to grow at twice the rate of the regular market in 2015 and 2016.
"We are seeing climbing demand for SUVs." - Dieter Zetsche

Daimler employees can set email to auto-delete during vacation

Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:29:00 EST

The Internet has shrunk the world in terms of the way people communicate by making it possible to send an email from Oslo and have it show up in Cleveland almost immediately. But that instant contact has wrecked the work/life balance for many. They get home from a long day at the office, yet they can never fully put their feet up and relax because another hour or more of checking and replying to emails awaits. However, German automotive giant Daimler is putting an end to that churn, at least while its employees are on vacation.
About 100,000 Daimler employees in Germany are eligible to opt-in to a new program called Mail on Holiday, according to The Atlantic. When the workers go on vacation, they can switch it on, and the service auto-deletes all of their incoming email. "Our employees should relax on holiday and not read work-related emails," said Wilfried Porth, board member for human resources, to The Financial Times as cited by The Atlantic.
Mail on Holiday puts a thumb on the scale of work/life balance in favor of a little more free time. The system means that Daimler employees shouldn't even be tempted to check their email on vacation because there's nothing there - and it also avoids them coming back from a relaxing holiday only to find a mailbox packed full of hundreds of unread messages. These days, people are absolutely obsessed with their work, often to the detriment of their health, not to mention spending time with their families and friends. On one hand, Mail on Holiday sounds like the sort of vacation breakthrough we'd need to truly unplug and unwind, but on the other hand, it makes our skin crawl just thinking about the lack of communication. What's your perspective? Have your say in Comments.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA priced from $31,300*

Mon, 28 Jul 2014 23:38:00 EST

Mercedes-Benz has kindly let loose the price of the 2015 GLA-Class, telling Autoblog.com that the base 208-horsepower GLA250 in two-wheel drive will go for $31,300 *not including a destination charge of $925. That makes for $32,225 in total to get one off the lot, a price predicted as early as last year and in our recent First Drive. The other two available models can push power to all four wheels, and after the destination fee is applied the GLA240 4Matic (pictured) will be $34,225 while the 355-horsepower GLA45 AMG will change lives and wallets to the tune of $49,225.
On the base scale, that puts the GLA250 just a few hundred dollar bills above the more powerful, rear-wheel drive BMW X1 and a stack of hundreds below the less powerful, front-wheel drive Audi Q3. If you're keeping in-house score, the GLA250 comes in at $1,400 above its sedan platform-mate with the same engine, the CLA250. At the high end, however, the competition doesn't have anything that can touch the AMG trim. Not that it should matter all that much - Mercedes needed something to keep these buyers in the family, and now they have it. If any of them should need even more power and more money spent, then there's always that 394-hp Brabus flavor. We'll have more info and details on each trim when Mercedes unleashes the shebang in the not-too-distant future.

2014 Mercedes SL and SLK add small expansion to Takata airbag recall

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:31:00 EST

Mercedes-Benz is the latest automaker to be affected by Takata's massive airbag recall. The company has announced a voluntary recall campaign on a small number of model-year 2014 SLK- and SL-Class roadsters.
In Mercedes' case, 300 vehicles are affected, 200 of which are in the hands of customers. According to spokesperson Donna Boland, the affected roadsters were built between March and April of this year.
The issue, which is apparently the fault of one of Takata's subcontractors, rests with some improperly installed fasteners, which could keep the airbag from performing the way it's supposed to. According to Boland, Mercedes isn't sure what, if any, injuries the recalled airbags could cause, but simply claims there's an increased risk in these particular vehicles. There's been no reported instances of the faulty airbags deploying on a customer and the original issue was found in a production test.

Mercedes takes VW Westfalia Camper idea upscale with new Marco Polo

Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:31:00 EST

Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz revealed the new V-Class. Slotting in below the popular Sprinter, the new V-Class replaced both the Viano and Vito upon its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. But Mercedes isn't quite done with it just yet. At the upcoming Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, Germany, Mercedes will reveal the Marco Polo - a versatile, stylish and decidedly contemporary take on the classic camper van.
Named after the famous Italian explorer, the Marco Polo was converted by Westfalia, an outfit which you might more closely associate with classic VW camper vans but which Daimler absorbed over a decade ago. Offering, according to the press release below, "a maximum of opportunities to be independent, free and spontaneous," the Marco Polo sleeps four thanks to the rear bench that electrically folds flat into a bed and the second berth under the pop-top. The flexible interior is decked out like you'd expect a modern Mercedes to be, with ambient LED lighting as well as wood, metal and piano black trim.
It's got an onboard kitchenette with two gas burners, a sink and fridge with a 10 gallons of fresh water and an even bigger waste tank. All that gear is shlepped around by a choice of four-cylinder turbodiesel engines ranging in output from 136 to 190 horsepower. The relatively compact form boasts a turning circle similar to a full-size sedan and a height designed to fit into most garages and car washes. All of which just might make us reconsider the appeal of traveling by camper van.

Mercedes testing C-Class plug-in hybrid modes in Germany

Wed, 07 May 2014 16:02:00 EST

Testing appears to be underway for what would be the first Mercedes-Benz C-Class with a hybrid powertrain. We can see a pair of the prototypes undergoing testing in Germany, with one, a C-Class Wagon, still heavily clad in camouflage and featuring a more noticeable outlet on the passenger side of its rear bumper.
There's also a more production-looking sedan, which features a not-so-discreet flap over its rear-bumper outlet. It's difficult to speculate on power outputs for this fuel-sipping C-Class, although our spies seem to think that this car will feature some combination of a four-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor, although just which four is unclear (note, we wouldn't mind if MB fit its 2.0-liter turbo with some batteries and motors). Regardless, the four-pot/electric motor seems like a pretty reasonable combo, although it probably means that Mercedes won't be challenging the six-cylinder-powered system of the BMW ActiveHybrid3 any time soon.
When the plug-in C-Class arrives later this year as a 2015 model, it will likely offer a full range of driving modes, including both gas or electric, only, as well as a more traditional hybrid mode.

XCAR marks 20-year anniversary of Senna's passing with Mercedes 190E Cosworth

Thu, 01 May 2014 12:45:00 EST

While the automotive world is focusing on the twentieth anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death, there was much, much more to the legendary driver than his untimely passing at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
XCAR has the story of a younger Senna, who, by a stroke of luck, found himself matched up against a veritable dream team of nine Formula One champions, not to mention a cadre of German touring car aces. A "probably still pissed (drunk)" James Hunt, hard-driving Niki Lauda and future champion and rival Alain Prost, were in attendance for the one-off, spec race, which was put on by Mercedes-Benz, in honor of the opening of the Nürburgring's Grand Prix circuit. And Senna was on hand with the explicit goal of besting them all.
Each driver was handed a lightly modified, but brand-new 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth, a car that can best be though of as the distant ancestor of the lovable C63 AMG. As for the race itself, well, it was sort of like an introduction of what the sport could come to expect from the Brazilian.

Mercedes considering GLA-based crossover coupe

Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:30:00 EST

BMW opened a whole Pandora's Box when it introduced the X6 back in 2008. Sure it made little sense, sacrificing all that "utility" for a little more "sport," but it's been a solid success for BMW - especially considering the nominal expense it cost to develop the X6 on top of the X5 on which it's based. Little wonder that, while BMW has already followed up with a smaller version in the form of the X4, other automakers are starting to catch up. And that includes Mercedes-Benz.
The German automaker is preparing to launch a new MLC, based on the M-Class but with a sportier silhouette, and previewed it with the Concept Coupe SUV at the Beijing Motor Show. But that's just the start, according to the latest report from Automotive News Europe.
Mercedes is reportedly considering spinning off an entire line of crossovers more for use on the road than off it. Which may go without saying for most crossovers on the market, but considering the Geländwagen with which Mercedes got its start in SUVs, would mean an even further departure than it has undertaken already.