Clean Diesel? Mercedes Has It!

The US launch of Mercedes’s new BLUETEC “clean diesel” technology has been attracting some attention in the last few weeks: an NPR piece, a story in the Detroit News, and a lot of word-of-mouth buzz. I wanted to take a look (and a smell) at it, but it’s not going to be sold in Massachusetts, where I live, because although it meets Tier 2 emissions standards, it doesn’t meet the more stringent Tier 2 Bin 5 standards. And, no, I have absolutely no idea what this means.

The Mercedes BLUETEC models are the only 2007 model-year diesel passenger cars slated for sale in the US. This seems silly, until I think about how many of the gas stations near me offer diesel fuel anymore. The answer? Not too many. As a forty-something person, I remember when diesel was touted as the wave of the future for passenger cars; could that wave be coming again?

Then there’s biodiesel, which I’m a little suspicious of only because its most visible advocate is Willie Nelson. I’m sure Willie’s a lovely man, and “Crazy” is one of the greatest songs ever written, but his business acumen and judgment haven’t always been his strong suit. I like the idea of a car that smells like French fries, though.

In any case, the Mercedes BLUETEC cars are coming to Massachusetts (and California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island) for model year 2008, thanks to an even more effective emissions-reduction technology that involves urea. Yes, urea, also known as the active ingredient in…er…urine. This may be the first time urea made anything smell better!

So, alas, I can’t try out the Mercedes E320 BLUETEC for a while. The engine looks great–a 3.0 liter V6 than can deliver 208 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. And the “green factor” is pretty appealing. And let’s not forget that all of this power and social responsibility is tucked inside a luxurious Mercedes sedan. What’s not to love?

Check out the Detroit News preview of the Mercedes E320 BLUETEC models for 2007 here! What do you think–are you ready to go diesel?

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