In a good overview of diesel's strengths and weaknesses, Transportation News points out that higher emissions continue to be diesel engine's Achilles heal. The stringent California emissions laws, enforced in California, Massachusetts, Maine, New York and Vermont, are such that no current diesel passenger vehicle is available for sale in all 50 states. Thankfully though new designs and technology designed to allow diesel passenger vehicles to meet the 2007 Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards will soon debut and should even up the playing field in the U.S. to a degree versus petrol vehicles although cost will still be an issue.

Better fuel economy, longevity and power are all ticked off as benefits of diesel engines but emissions, especially NOx, require advanced features like urea neutralisation systems and particulate filters to keep the air clean. As AutoblogGreen readers probably know, the Mercedes E320 BlueTec is one of the first cabs off the rank with a Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions compliant urea-based additive system designed to reduce NOx emissions by more than eight times compared to the outgoing 2006 E320 CDI.

As well as leading the diesel bandwagon, DaimlerChrysler also has identified a global trend towards smaller cars with less powerful engines which may see it bring compact models to the U.S. in the future. Currently Mercedes-Benz sells only large cars and SUVs in the American market, in part to preserve the prestige badge, but also for financial reasons partially to do with the weak dollar. If trends continue however, Mercedes may look at bringing its A-Class and B-Class models to the U.S.

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[Source: Signonsandiego.com]

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