Mercedes is out with its plug-in hybrid version of the S-Class, and in addition to packing a 8.7 kWh battery that can run the S for up to 20 miles on pure electricity, it's featuring some pretty interesting tech, including a gas pedal with haptic feedback.
Merc's engineers put a lot of effort into making sure the battery is operating at optimum efficiency depending on where the car is and even where it's going. So depending on the driving mode, the computers sort out the right combination of electric and internal combustion power based on the battery charge, and can adjust it according to the road, the route, the distance of the car in front, or even the traffic situation up ahead.
If the battery is getting low on juice, the accelerator will pulse twice to get the driver to let off the gas and start coasting to recoup energy. By default, it starts slowing the car by using the electric motor and not the disc brakes for regen, and when you get back on the gas, the accelerator will provide a bit more resistance before the engine kicks back on. And yes, you can turn all this stuff off.
But the real party piece of the S-Class Hybrid is what Mercedes is calling its "intelligent operating strategy", where the route the driver is taking will have an influence on the battery's usage and state of charge.
As an example, the S will use more electrical power going up a hill to ensure the battery is close to depleted when it starts down the other side. That way, it can recoup as much juice as possible on the descent. Or if the driver is headed into the city, it won't use the electric motor at all on the way there so the S can operate in EV mode while putting around town.
As for charging, Mercedes says the 3.6 kW on-board charger can top up the battery pack in just under three hours from a standard (230V) wall box, and that it's begun testing inductive charging on the S-Class Hybrid, although it's not coming to market anytime soon.