Mercedes-AMG, or AMG as it’s simply referred to, is a German tuning company that has been turning regular Mercedes-Benzes into performance cars since 1967. But the move away from using just internal combustion engines has required a complete change in the way it works.

    “We not only had to develop the car, [but] we needed to transform the company,” AMG’s head development driving dynamics engineer Rene Szczepek told CarExpert at the launch of the new C63 S E Performance in Spain last month.

    Mr Szczepek is referring to the way in which the Mercedes-AMG engineers had to change their working relationships, as development of all the vehicle’s components had to be done concurrently and with input from all teams.

    “The turbocharger man was never part of the game talking to someone who develops an energy management system to help recharge or boost the car… So the turbocharger guys [previously] never spoke to the battery guy or electric motor guy, but we needed to have [this],” he said.

    “We know we can build fast cars for a track, but now we needed to prove that we can learn fast, build new competencies. We needed to learn as fast as possible and that is an ongoing process even when the world is fast changing into electric cars or wherever, so for us now it is not a problem where the world ends up – will it be electric, will it be internal combustion engine?”

    According to Szczepek, AMG has transformed itself to be ready for any scenario including an all-electric or hybrid future, or potentially a continuation of the internal combustion engine (with synthetic fuels).

    “We know as a company we are able to build performance cars, and we have proved that in the past. Give us a big engine we know what to do in the chassis and suspension, go out there and have fun and for sure you will be fast,” he added.

    “The next level for AMG was we had to be more efficient for our engines so we developed on the combustion side, because no one knows where politics are going.

    “Will the internal combustion engine be back? Will it be electrified? Will it be both together? So what we did is we developed further the 2.0-litre inline combustion engine so the power output you had in the V8 is now just in 2L. On top of that, we now have knowledge on the electric side and learning going on the battery level.”

    The rapid regulation changes in Europe is currently seeing an end to the internal combustion engine by 2035, however it is not yet clear if synthetic fuels or other alternatives will find a way to be exempt. 

    “We need to be prepared, even for when others are deciding. We know where to go and we are ready for the future, we can handle internal combustion engines we can handle electric vehicles. We can handle the challenges for putting both into a hybrid car. You can’t imagine the challenges of developing that!”

    AMG currently employs 3000 people and while the engine is still built in Affalterbach and the battery is developed by AMG, the assembly of the new C 63 will likely be out of South Africa for the Australian market. 

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine.

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