The removal of the plug-in grant for hybrids means we don’t get a £2,500 discount on our £52,000 E 300de, but its projected cost savings should do enough to make it a worthwhile fleet choice.
This year, the car attracts a 16% BIK rate, but that drops to 12% next year for the next three years. There is also no diesel supplement to pay, as the de is classed as an alternative fuel vehicle.
During a typical four-year cycle, a driver (20% taxpayer) will shell out £5,464 to HMRC. This equates, on average, to £113 per month.
Based on our current achievement of 70mpg (over the past 2,200 miles), we’ve estimated that fuel should cost £3,300 during the same four-year period – or about £85 per month - assuming the driver does 10,000 private miles per year.
Factoring the in the cost of charging the battery at home three times per week, adds a further £936 to the figure – or £20 per month – giving a total cost to the driver of £217 per month, or £316 for a 40% taxpayer.
Compared to an equivalent E 220d, the driver will save around £118 per month, or £257 per month for a 40% taxpayer.
For a business, we’ve calculated operating costs of about £8,500 a year. That’s assuming the driver does about 10,000 business miles per year.
While leasing costs are about £100 per month more than an E 220d, the de is more than £5,500 cheaper comparatively over a four-year cycle and is eligible for 100% writing down allowance.
Its environmental credentials means there is no first-year VED to pay either, although because the E 300de’s list price exceeds £40,000 it attracts the higher rate of £455 per year thereafter (discounted from £465).
The benefits of the new powertrain are clear. Even without a charge, we’ve rarely seen the car return less than 46mpg on a single journey.
By hanging on to some charge, the car is always able to operate as a hybrid. It’s powertrain intelligently recuperates and recharges where necessary to prolong the zero-emission running for as long as possible.
My mileage profile leaves me with a bit of a conundrum. I only live about five miles from the Fleet News office, but regularly do long business trips of more than 200 miles.
Choosing the right fuel type is perplexing. My last car was a diesel, so ideal for the longer trips. Prior to that I spent some time in a petrol plug-in hybrid, which could easily cover my commute on electric but offered disappointing fuel economy the rest of the time.
A fully electric car doesn’t carry much appeal, yet, as I regularly leave the car at airports where it is notoriously hard to charge and don’t quite fancy a late-night stop at the M1 services.
Mercedes might just have the answer with its new plug-in hybrid diesel. The engine debuted in the E-Class, badged E 300 de and is now available to order in the C-Class.
It uses the brand’s latest 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to a new gearbox-mounted electric motor and battery setup.
Total power output is 306PS, with CO2 emissions of just 41g/km.
Standard equipment includes two 12.3-inch displays for the infotainment and instruments, electric folding door mirrors, ambient interior lighting, blind spot monitor and cruise control.
Our car is the sportier-looking AMG Line and is fitted with the optional Premium pack, bringing the total cost to £52,535.
It adds electrically adjustable and heated front seats with memory function, a 360-degree parking camera system, connected infotainment, LED headlights and a wireless charging pad.
Company car tax is extremely attractive at £1,600 per year (20% taxpayer), falling to £1,200 per year from April 2020.
Mercedes quotes a WLTP fuel economy figure of 176-201 mpg. So far I’ve covered 700 miles in the car and haven’t even burned through the first tank of diesel, averaging 75mpg. While this is somewhat short of the official figure, it is still better than the 43-51mpg that is quoted for a standard E 220 d.
Over the coming months I plan to find out how the E 300 de performs in a series of best and worst case scenarios. But, based on my initial impressions, I suspect this might be the solution that a lot of company car drivers are looking for.