In July 2021, Mercedes revealed its intentions to go purely electric by the end of the decade. However, that statement came with a big asterisk at the end as the three-pointed star specified it would happen only where "market conditions allow." It means that even if the ICE will be retired in certain regions, there's a good chance the German luxury brand will still have petrol-fuelled vehicles on sale in most parts of the world.
Those won't necessarily all be small engines as Mercedes is determined to keep the V8 alive until 2030 and even beyond. In an interview with Australian magazine CarSales, the automaker's VP for vehicle development, Joerg Bartels, said the eight-cylinder mill is here to stay. He explained it all comes down to the tighter emissions regulations. If the Stuttgart-based can make it work and meet the CO2 fleet average targets, it has no intentions to retire the V8 or the smaller inline-six.
2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
"In the end, it has to fulfil our overall CO2 strategy, and we have a clear path on that one: being CO2 neutral at the end of the ’30s, by 2039. And from 2030 we just want to be pure electric. But if there's still a customer demand [for petrol V8s] in some regions, and it's still part of our offering, why should we stop it?"
Mercedes is fully aware it'll have a difficult time improving ICEs to meet tougher regulations – especially Euro 7 – but it knows some customers will still want to buy cars with six and eight cylinders. Bartels is confident the engineers can make just about every engine comply with tougher legislation, but that comes along with high costs some customers won't be willing to pay.
Bartels admitted it'll be tough to justify high development costs for ICEs once Euro 7 will come into effect around the middle of the decade, but that day hasn't come yet. Meanwhile, the V8 is available in an assortment of models and is set to continue in future products, including the second-generation AMG GT.
However, the AMG C63 will lose the V8 in favour of a four-pot, with reports stating the next E63 is also going to drop the 4.0-litre mill. On the flip side, Mercedes will happily sell you the Maybach S-Class in the S680 flavour with a mighty V12, one of the last twelve-cylinder new cars money can buy.
While the likes of Porsche and Toyota are toying around with synthetic fuels, Mercedes doesn’t think they’re a viable solution as it believes these are still bad for the environment: "We have looked into it, of course. But in an energetic way it doesn’t really make sense. How many kilograms of CO2 do you produce to generate the synthetic fuels?"
Arch rival BMW has also pledged to retain its large-displacement engine, promising M models with inline-six and V8s will stick around until 2030 at the very least. However, the M760i has been dropped with the new 7 Series, meaning there's no more V12.