When they were first introduced, the only hybrid cars on the market were Toyotas and Hondas -- small, practical cars that were admittedly a little funny-looking. These vehicles were much more about economy than style. Luxury automakers were slow to jump on the hybrid bandwagon, as their target customers have not generally been too concerned with the cost of fuel.
Times have changed, though, and rising fuel costs are affecting even the wealthiest sectors of the population. Environmental concerns are growing, too, and hybrid cars are in very high demand. In June 2009, Mercedes will begin selling its first hybrid -- a large car that balances fuel economy with sexiness.
At 30 miles per gallon, the new model will approximately double the mileage of the non-hybrid luxury S-class sedan, but it's still no 60mpg Prius. Mercedes execs argue that this large car is more practical for their customers, with plenty of space to pack for vacations. There's no official price tag just yet, but Mercedes Marketing Director Klaus Maier estimates a premium of less than €10,000, or $14,000. That would put the total price in the neighborhood of $100,000 - $160,000, depending on options.