A lifecycle analysis for the GLE 500e 4MATIC (called the GLE 550e in the US) plug-in hybrid SUV was recently released by Mercedes-Benz, giving us some insight into the overall environmental impact of the model.
Perhaps the most notable takeaway here is that the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version compares rather favorably to the conventional GLE 500 4MATIC with regard to overall carbon dioxide emissions — with the slashing of emissions by between 37% and 58% (depending on whether the electricity used for charging is via renewables or not). This relates to a reduction in emissions of between 31.9 and 50.3 tonnes.
Green Car Congress provides more details:
The GLE 500 e 4MATIC burns 3.7–3.3 liters of fuel for every 100 km (63.5 to 71.2 mpge), equating to CO2 emissions of 84–78 g/km; electric power consumption is 16.7 kWh per 100 km. All-electric range is up to 30 km (18.6 miles), and all-electric top speed is 130 km/h (81 mph)—corresponding to the recommended speed on German autobahns.
…When the individual life cycle phases are considered in detail, the energy required to produce the plug-in hybrid vehicle is initially higher than for its conventional cousin: 234 GJ versus 190 GJ, or about 23% higher. In the operating phase, however, energy requirements are reduced significantly due to the vehicle’s efficiency. The best result is achieved when renewable energy is used to charge the batteries. Over the entire life cycle, this can translate into primary energy savings of 42%. This is equivalent to the energy content of around 4,385 gallons of gasoline.
Not an insignificant quantity of gasoline to have curtailed the use of — though, obviously, not all that comparable to the energy saved by all-electric vehicles (EVs). Presuming, of course, that the vehicles in question are driven the same amount. The real way to cut energy use, of course, is to simply walk or ride a bike when possible (or take a train).