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UK denied BMW and Mercedes luxury hybrids

Date: 24 October 2008

Neither the new BMW 7-series hybrid or its Mercedes S-class petrol-electric rival will be sold in the UK for the foreseeable future due to the cost of engineering the eco models for right-hand drive.

Unlike Lexus, which doesn't have a UK diesel in this class and builds its low-CO2 credentials around the hybrid technology in its LS, BMW's 730d and Mercedes' S320 CDI diesels are already competitive with hybrids for emissions and economy. Hence, the difficulty in justifying the investment in converting the hybrid models for right-hand drive markets.

The S400 Blue Hybrid, powered by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine backed up by electric motor, is estimated at 190g/km and 35.8mpg compared to the S320 CDI's 220g/km and 34.0mpg. The 7-series Active Hybrid, mating the electric motor to a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, is still a concept but due to market in two years.

Merc is also planning M-, E- and C-class hybrids, while BMW has confirmed an X6 hybrid, although the odds on any of these models making it to the UK are not yet clear.