It'll be a long, long while (if ever) before the diesel market in the U.S. is anywhere near as big as it is in Europe, but if the European automakers have their way, we'll all be at least test driving oil burners sooner rather than later. As the Audi Mileage Marathon shows, diesel vehicles are a solid way to travel and the diesel push continues with the Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC diesels that are arriving at dealers nationwide this week.

Introduced in New York earlier this year, the three SUVs - the ML320, GL320 and R320 - feature MB's 50-state BlueTEC clean-diesel technology. While these vehicles are not cheap, the IRS saw fit to grant them tax credits of up to $1,800 for having "Advanced Lean Burn Technology." Mercedes announced that 750 BlueTEC vehicles are now in dealer hands. If you're interested in taking a test drive in one of these, there's good reason to: Mercedes-Benz USA will give $100 to The Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre program in each tester's name.

[Source: Mercedes-Benz USA]

PRESS RELEASE:

Mercedes-Benz New Clean Diesel SUVs Roll Into Town

Mercedes to Introduce the World's First Lithium-Ion Hybrid in 2009

MONTVALE, N.J., Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- A new generation of alternative fuel vehicles are hitting Mercedes-Benz dealer showrooms this week. Designed to provide 20-30 percent higher fuel economy than gasoline engines and up to a 600-mile driving range, the new 50-state BlueTEC clean-diesel technology debuts on three of the company's SUV models: the 2009 ML320, GL320 and R320.

The BlueTEC technology is so efficient that the Internal Revenue Service has designated it "Advanced Lean Burn Technology" which allows it to qualify for the same type of tax credit that hybrids receive. Depending on the model purchased and an individual's tax status, buyers of the new BlueTEC clean diesel SUVs can apply for tax credits of up to $1,800.

Building on the company's 50-year legacy of diesel technology, BlueTEC represents the most sophisticated, cleanest and most performance oriented-diesel SUVs ever produced by Mercedes-Benz. The next-generation BlueTEC vehicles feature AdBlue injection, a process that reduces nitrogen oxide, a main cause of smog, by nearly 80 percent. BlueTEC allows drivers to enjoy the utility of large vehicles with reduced fuel consumption, reduced carbon footprint, added torque, and extended fuel range.

Nation-Wide Roll Out Begins Today

When compared with 'yesterday's diesel,' many consumers are not aware of the phenomenal advances in diesel technology and its positive impact on the environment. Very few are aware that hybrids achieve their fuel efficiency enhancements only in stop-and-go driving as opposed to diesel which yields a fuel efficiency advantage in any type of driving scenario.

As a result, as part of its launch initiative which is aimed at increasing awareness of the benefits of clean diesel, MBUSA is putting a fleet of 750 BlueTEC vehicles into dealer hands to facilitate getting customers behind the wheel.

In addition, the company will begin integrated marketing initiatives designed to introduce this revolutionary technology. This autumn, Mercedes-Benz USA is running two wide-scale print executions - "Live Green to Save Green" and "Check, Check, Check" - to raise awareness about the fuel economy of the vehicles. The ads are running in a variety of publications, including Architectural Digest, National Geographic, and Vanity Fair, as well as daily papers in top markets. These advertisements introduce the launch of the 50-State BlueTEC SUVs, highlighting how they set the standard for superior performance, noteworthy fuel efficiency, and environmentally-friendly technology.

The BlueTEC advertising campaign began in March 2008 in conjunction with the New York International Auto Show's world premiere of the first vehicles to meet the stringent federal emissions requirements: the 2009 ML320 BlueTEC, GL320 BlueTEC, and R320 BlueTEC. During that time, a BlueTEC print advertisement "Why you should go blue if you want to go green," ran in national newspapers, including USA Today and The New York Times.

Two national launch mailings tied to the BlueTEC SUV launch also raise awareness of the significant value these vehicles offer while also promoting The Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre program. The mailing includes an invitation for drivers to take a test drive of a BlueTEC vehicle at their local dealerships. For each of the BlueTEC test drives resulting from the mailing, Mercedes-Benz USA will make a $100 contribution to The Nature Conservancy's Adopt an Acre program in the driver's name. The mailings also help drive visitors to the BlueTEC microsite on www.MBUSA.com/BlueTEC where they will be able to use a "Distance Calculator" to see just how far they can go from home on a tank full of fuel in the new BlueTEC models.

The First Diesels to Meet the BIN5 (50-State) Emissions Requirements

With characteristics such as low-end torque, improved fuel economy and high performance, the diesel engine has proven itself as an attractive alternative to gasoline engines even in the U.S. during times of increasing fuel prices and growing sensitivity toward CO2 emissions. In the land of minivans, pickups and SUVs - where driving habits generally feature consistent highway speeds and long distances cross-country - the benefits of diesel present an attractive solution. Mercedes-Benz developed BlueTEC technology with AdBlue injection for its large, high-performance SUVs to meet the limits set by the U.S. BIN5 standard, bringing the benefits of this newest diesel technology to states such as California and New York where diesels have not been sold for over a decade.

The World's First Lithium-Ion Hybrid in 2009

In 2009, MBUSA will introduce the S400 BlueHYBRID, the world's first passenger hybrid vehicle to be powered by a lithium-ion battery. Specially developed for automotive use, the BlueHYBRID engine will be the first worldwide to be introduced in a series-production vehicle - once again establishing Mercedes-Benz as a trailblazer in automotive technology. The BlueTEC and BlueHYBRID vehicles represent the first steps in Mercedes-Benz "Road to the Future" initiative, a full portfolio of alternative-fuel vehicles set to roll out over the next few years. These new vehicles are part of the more than 20 billion dollars Mercedes-Benz will have invested in clean-technology research and zero-emission technology by 2010.

About Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz USA, headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of all Mercedes-Benz products in the United States. For over forty years, MBUSA has prided itself on its commitment to the customer by providing superior quality luxury vehicles coupled with outstanding customer support.

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.


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