In today's Mercedes-Benz press conference at NAIAS, John reports that DaimlerChrysler made a big effort to promote its BLUETEC diesels, which the company touts as "a new formula for powerful, efficient and clean diesel technology."

According to DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche, “As a powerful, economical and clean drive system, BLUETEC can significantly help American drivers continue to enjoy large, powerful cars for many years to come – whether you are looking at large sedans, vans, light trucks or SUVs. BLUETEC diesel vehicles have the potential to meet the world’s most stringent exhaust emissions standards, including those of all 50 US States.”

Our reading of this announcement is that it's DaimlerChrysler's shot across the bows of competing fuel efficiency solutions from Ford and GM, both of which are in parallel pushing gas/electric hybrids and E85 flexible fuel vehicles as their solution to (relatively) fuel efficient big cars.

The Mercedes E 320 BLUETEC will be launched in fall 2006 in the U.S., as the first BLUETEC passenger car going into series production. Based on the powerful 320 CDI V6-engine the Mercedes engineers have created the world’s cleanest diesel engine to date. The crucial factor for this is the latest innovation in the E 320 BLUETEC, a highly efficient technology that significantly reduces nitrogen oxide emissions. The fall 2006 U.S. launch coincides with the rollout in the U.S. market of the low-sulfur diesel fuel that BLUETEC requires.

A full press release on the BLUETEC diesel technology, with pictures and illustrations, can be found after the jump. The BLUETEC press release photo above not only demonstrates that the technology is applicable to everything from mid-size sedans to the monster Mercedes GL SUV, but the Jeep Grand Cherokee BLUETEC also signals DaimlerChrysler's intention to roll out this technology in Chrysler vehicles as well.

Official Press Release:

NAIAS 2006 Detroit: DaimlerChrysler to Feature Technology for the Cleanest Diesel in the World

    * BLUETEC – DaimlerChrysler pioneers a group-wide initiative for diesel with potential for all 50 U.S. states

    * The Mercedes-Benz E 320 BLUETEC will be launched in fall 2006 in the U.S. as first BLUETEC passenger car

    * Dr. Dieter Zetsche: “We can offer BLUETEC in all our brands for the benefit of our customers.”

Detroit/Stuttgart, Jan 08, 2006

DaimlerChrysler will begin the New Year with a pioneering group-wide initiative for advanced clean diesel powertrains to be launched at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The technology called BLUETEC will be capable of producing the cleanest diesel vehicles in the world.

The company will present vehicles featuring BLUETEC at the Mer-cedes-Benz and Chrysler Group stands, highlighting a bright future for diesel-powered automobiles around the world. BLUETEC offers diesel passenger cars the potential to meet the most stringent emissions regulations worldwide and be approved for sale in all 50 U.S. states. This will enable advanced diesel engines to develop their full potential for reducing fuel consumption and help to reduce emissions in the U.S. as well.

“BLUETEC is the new blueprint for the cleanest diesels in the world,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of DaimlerChrysler and Head of the Mercedes Car Group. “And while BLUETEC was developed by Mercedes-Benz, it won’t be exclusive to Mercedes-Benz. Of course, we’ll share this technology with the Chrysler Group.”

The BLUETEC vehicles that DaimlerChrysler will be showcasing in Detroit – the Mercedes-Benz E 320 BLUETEC, the Vision Mercedes-Benz GL 320 BLUETEC, and the Concept Car Jeep® Grand Cherokee BLUETEC – are capable of being the most fuel-efficient and cleanest diesel passenger vehicles in their segments in the U.S. BLUETEC can only achieve its full effect in passenger cars when it is used with diesel fuel that has a sulfur content of less than 15 ppm. Such fuel will further reduce the emissions of diesel vehicles already on the market in the U.S. This low-sulfur diesel has already been introduced throughout Europe and is expected to become available in the U.S. in the fall of 2006. DaimlerChrysler's first BLUETEC passenger car will be the Mercedes-Benz E 320 BLUETEC, which will be launched in the U.S. next fall.

Mercedes-Benz trucks are already available with BLUETEC diesel technology as standard. Around 9,500 Mercedes-Benz trucks equipped with the innovative exhaust-gas technology were delivered to customers in 2005. This means that more than 98 percent of all truck customers have opted for vehicles that already fulfill the stringent Euro 5 emissions standard.

BLUETEC is a combination of technologies for passenger cars and light trucks to reduce all relevant emission components. The system for passenger cars includes an oxidizing catalytic converter and a diesel particulate filter, as well as innovative systems for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions. Whether a combination of Denox and a BLUETEC catalytic converter, or AdBlue injection with a BLUETEC catalytic converter is used will depend on the individual design concept of the vehicle. Regardless of which technical solution is used, BLUETEC makes diesel vehicles in every class the cleanest diesels in the world. BLUETEC diesel technology for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles combines highly efficient engines with an exhaust gas treatment system based on selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology. With SCR technology, nitrogen oxides are converted into harmless nitrogen and water vapor by adding ammonia as a reducing agent in a catalytic converter.

With BLUETEC, DaimlerChrysler greatly improves the potential of advanced diesel engines within the framework of its “Energy for the Future” initiative, which describes the company’s strategy for ensuring sustainable mobility in the future. An additional element of this initiative is DaimlerChrysler’s ongoing effort to further optimize gasoline engines, as well as the company’s commitment to improving the quality of conventional fuels and promoting the use of synthetic fuels. Further elements of the initiative include the development and introduction of hybrid drive systems and fuel cell technology.

As a result of rising fuel prices, more and more car buyers in America are considering the option of a modern diesel vehicle. Proof of this is the success of the current E 320 CDI since its market launch in April 2004. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz in the USA has seen growing demand for a wider range of the brand’s diesel offerings. Mercedes answers this demand by launching the M-Class and R-Class variants with a 320 CDI engine in the fourth quarter of 2006. Other models are set to follow. The DaimlerChrysler plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has just what it takes to respond quickly to the new market situation in the USA. The Mercedes plant produces the M-Class, R-Class and GL-Class for all markets around the world – including the economical and clean diesel versions.

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