DETROIT — Mercedes-Benz's performance brand — known for expensive, high-horsepower V-8s and V-12s — is tinkering with hybrids, diesels and even four-cylinder engines.
AMG's new direction is the result of carbon dioxide and fuel economy regulations in a world concerned about global warming. Last year AMG sold a record 24,200 vehicles globally, with the United States accounting for 38 percent of those sales.
"We are working very hard on different technologies to meet future requirements," Volker Mornhinweg, who heads AMG, said at the Detroit auto show.
Mornhinweg said AMG will decide in about a year whether to offer a hybrid- or diesel-powered powertrain next decade. Last fall AMG asked U.S. buyers about diesels, hybrids, performance and fuel consumption.
Said Mornhinweg: "They said if you develop hybrids, diesels or optimization technologies for current combustion engines, do not reduce horsepower. Do not reduce performance."
A new AMG opportunity is Mercedes' B class, which goes on sale in 2010. The vehicle's four-cylinder engine may be supercharged or turbocharged.
"This is something that we are currently working on," said Mornhinweg.
Currently, only C-class and larger Mercedes vehicles are given the AMG treatment.