In July 2021, Mercedes revealed its intention to go purely electric by the end of the decade. However, the statement came with a big asterisk at the end because the three-pointed star stipulates that it will only happen if “market conditions allow.” This means that even if ICE were to be retired in certain regions, there is a high chance that the German luxury brand would still have gasoline-powered vehicles sold in most of the world.
It’s not necessarily all small engines as Mercedes is determined to keep the V8 alive well into 2030 and beyond. In an interview with Australian magazine Car sell, the automaker’s VP for vehicle development, Joerg Bartels, said the eight-cylinder plant would remain. He explained it all boils down to stricter emissions regulations. If based in Stuttgart can make it work and meet CO2 the average target fleet, it has no intention of retiring the V8 or its smaller inline-six.
“Ultimately, it has to meet our overall CO2 strategy, and we have a clear path for that: to be CO2 neutral by the late 30s, by 2039. And from 2030 we just want to be pure electricity. But if it’s still any customer request [for gasoline V8s] in some areas, and it’s still part of our offering, why should we stop it?”
Mercedes is fully aware of the difficulties of upgrading its ICE to meet stricter regulations – especially Euro 7 – but knows some customers still want to buy cars with six and eight cylinders. Bartels believes engineers can make nearly every machine comply with stricter laws, but that comes with a high cost that some customers are unwilling to pay.
Bartels admits it will be difficult to justify the high development costs for ICE after Euro 7 will go into effect sometime in the middle of the decade, but that day has yet to come. Meanwhile, the V8 is available in various models and will continue to exist in future products, including the second generation AMG GT.
However, the AMG C63 will lose the V8 in favor of the four-pot engine, with reports suggesting the next E63 will also drop the factory 4.0 liter. On the other hand, Mercedes would be happy to sell the Maybach S-Class in the S680 flavor with the mighty V12, one of the last twelve cylinder new cars money can buy.
While Porsche and Toyota are toying with synthetic fuels, Mercedes doesn’t think they are a viable solution because it believes it’s still bad for the environment: “We’ve looked into it, of course. But energetically it doesn’t make much sense. How many kilograms of CO2 do you manufacture to produce synthetic fuels?”
Archrival BMW has also promised to keep the big-capacity engine, promising the inline-six and V8 M models will last until at least 2030. However, the M760i has been dropped with the new 7 Series, meaning no more V12s.