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Bluetec comes to Europe

Date: 07 August 2007   |   Author:

Mercedes is bringing its ultra-low emission Bluetec diesel technology to Europe, though the UK is going to have to wait.

The system, which cuts local air pollutants such as particulates and NOx, actually puts out slightly more CO2 than the normal diesel engine, nudging it up a benefit-in-kind tax band and punishing company car drivers under the current tax rules. "A company car driver in the UK would end up paying more tax for driving the world's cleanest diesel," a spokesman told BusinessCar. Mercedes is however working on cutting the CO2 output to make a UK introduction worthwhile.

The company is also looking at extending the range of diesels Bluetec is currently offered on, currently limited to just the 3.0-litre diesel.

"Bluetec can be introduced to smaller vehicles, though there is larger cost threshold to overcome," said DaimlerChrysler powertrain vice-president Prof Herbert Kohler, as the extra technological costs are easier to absorb on larger, more expensive models.

The prestige brand is also introducing a new application for its CGI direct-injection engine. Already fitted to the CLS, it's also going to be available in the E-class from next year, though the 10% fuel economy savings are only experienced when using low-sulphur fuel which won't be readily available in the UK until 2009. There are no negative pay-offs though, and the E350 CGI will be the same price as before, but offer an additional 20PS over the standard E350 it replaces.

More eco-tech is scheduled to follow next year with the introduction of the new Smart Fortwo MHD, or mild hybrid drive. Available with the petrol engine, the MHD will cost £150 over the standard equivalent, and company bosses claim the stop-start technology is good enough to "theoretically save the cost of a tank of fuel every seven tanks." The ultra-low emission 88g/km diesel Smart Fortwo is also heading for the UK next spring, though only in left-hand drive form as the cost of developing right-hand drive versions proved prohibitive.

The Frankfurt motor show will also see more details on Mercedes' hybrid plans. "Mercedes-Benz will only develop vehicles and engines which permit hybridisation," is the company line going forward, starting in 2009 when the first Benz hybrid hits the market. The system is branded 'Two-mode hybrid', and the company claims it surpasses current Toyota and Honda systems by also adding power and economy benefits at higher speeds.