Mercedes-Benz is expanding the production of its E 200 NGT bi-fuel sedan to include a right-hand drive version for Asian markets, due out later this year.
In natural gas mode it reduces CO2 emissions more than 20% compared to gasoline mode.
The E 200 NGT made its debut in Germany last spring, then extended into Austria, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland later in the year.
The 1.8-liter, inline-four cylinder engine produces 120 kW (165 hp) with 240 Nm (177 lb-ft) of torque in natural gas mode, matching the power and torque of the E 200 Kompressor on which the NGT was based. This makes the NGT the most powerful bi-fuel sedan in production, according to Mercedes.
Mercedes-Benz modified the basic supercharged engine by adding injector nozzles on the underside of the intake manifold. A pressure regulator with sensor and electromagnetic shut-off valve is fitted near the engine to regulate the supply of natural gas and maintain the required system pressure at a constant level. The reprogrammed engine electronics ensure seamless operation in both drive modes.
A special electronic control circuit orchestrates the changeover between fuels for each cylinder individually to ensure a smooth, jolt-free switch between modes. A gauge in the instrument cluster's central display keeps the driver informed of the current level of gas in the reservoirs. Once the natural gas is depleted, the system automatically switches back to gasoline operation. Upon refueling, the NGT resumes in natural gas mode.
|Mercedes-Benz E 200 NGT Bi-Fuel Sedan|
|Power||120 kW; 165 hp||120 kW; 165 hp|
|Torque||240 Nm; 177 lb-ft||240 Nm; 177 lb-ft|
|Acceleration (0-100 km)||10.7 secs||10.8 secs|
|Top Speed||227 km/h; 141 mph||227 km/h; 141 mph|
|Fuel consumption||9 l/100 km; 26.1 mpg||6.1 kg/100km|
|Range||700 km; 35 mi||300 km; 186.5 mi|
|CO2||215 g/km||168 g/km|
At the present time, a kilogram of natural gas costs around € 0.72 in Germany, which translates into a cost of around € 0.48 per litre when equated with the energy provided by gasoline. This makes natural gas more than 50% more cost-effective than premium unleaded gasoline. Furthermore, a range of financial incentives—such as tax benefits, public and private support programs as well as low-interest loans—are on offer in Germany, to encourage the purchase of natural-gas-powered vehicles.
The natural gas refueling infrastructure in Germany is growing rapidly. With more than 550 filling stations in Germany with natural gas pumps currently, the number is expected to reach around 1,000 as early as 2006, at which point natural gas would be available virtually throughout the entire country.
Adopting NGV vehicles and building out the infrastructure are being seen by some policy makers as a way to reduce emissions, meet lowered CO2 targets, build an infrastructure that would be useful as a lead-in to hydrogen (both being gaseous fuels) and provide some buffer against the volatility of the oil market.