Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Automakers need halo cars. They bring people into the showroom and demonstrate just what their engineers can do. Typically those range-topping vehicles come in the form of sports cars – think Audi R8, Dodge Viper, Lexus LFA et al – but Mercedes-Benz is reportedly taking another direction. That's because these exotic supercars tend to sell in small numbers (almost by definition), while – for Mercedes-Benz – mid-size luxury sedans like the E-Class sell in much bigger numbers. As such, the Silver Star automaker is planning on making its next halo car a four-door sedan (of sorts).

A couple months ago, we brought you initial word of Daimler's plans to make a super-lightweight, carbon-fiber E-Class, and now further details have found their way into the bloggosphere. Dubbed the E Superlight, the sedan is tipped to share its footprint with the E-Class, its size with the CLS and its price with the S-Class. For that, buyers would get a state-of-the-art sedan made from carbon fiber sitting at the very cutting edge of what Stuttgart's finest are capable of achieving.

That's right, the E Superlight isn't a mere concept car: reports from overseas indicate that Daimler is actually planning on building it, with production earmarked to begin in 2015 and to come fully online by 2017. A hydrogen fuel cell is expected to provide the motivation at least in the beginning, but more conventional powertrains are also said to be in the mix. Once it's made its point, Mercedes can lift the halo back where it usually sits, atop the replacement for the current SLS AMG supercar.