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DaimlerChrysler Showcases 70 MPG “Bionic” Diesel Concept

DaimlerChrysler has unveiled a new “bionic” concept car that achieves outstanding results for fuel consumption and emissions with a combination of diesel engine technology, innovative emission control methods and aerodynamic design inspired by a natural example.

The Mercedes-Benz bionic car seats four, delivers better than 70 mpg in the US test cycle and exceeds Euro 4 emissions standards. It is premiering at the DaimlerChrysler Innovation Symposium in Washington.

Bionics is an inter-disciplinary subject which combines engineering science, architecture and mathematics. The basic principle is to understand nature’s ideas and problem solutions, which have stood the test of time over millions of years of evolution, and to adopt them for human use.

The design engineers looked for a specific design example in nature that could map to an aerodynamic, safe, comfortable and environmentally compatible car not just in terms of details, but as a formal and structural whole. The model they chose was the boxfish.

Dcxbionic0 Dcxbionic1_1
The boxfish. The DCX Bionic Car.

Despite its boxy, cube-shaped body, this tropical fish is in fact outstandingly streamlined. With an accurately constructed model of the boxfish, the engineers in Stuttgart were able to achieve a wind drag coefficient of just 0.06 in the wind tunnel.

Specialists at DaimlerChrysler first created a 1:4 car model whose shape was substantially based on the boxfish. During tests in the wind tunnel, a drag coefficient of 0.095—a previously unprecedented value in automotive engineering—was measured for this clay model.

DaimlerChrysler utilized the findings from this research in designing it concept car, which offers a Cd value of just 0.19—among the most aerodynamically efficient in this size category.

The car uses a 4-cylinder, 2-liter common rail diesel that delivers 103 kW (140 hp) of power and 300 Nm torque.  In the EU driving cycle the concept car has a fuel consumption of 4.3 liters per 100 kilometers (55 mpg US)—20% less than a comparable series-production car.

Measured using US testing procedure, the car offers approximately 70 mpg (3.4 liters/100km), about 30% better than for a standard-production car.

At a constant speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) the direct-injection diesel unit consumes only 2.8 liters per 100 kilometers, corresponding to 84 miles per gallon US.

The car uses DaimlerChrysler’s Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology—more widely used in the commercial vehicle sector—to reduce NOx emissions. This aftertreatment sprays an aqueous urea solution into the exhaust system in precisely metered quantities, depending on the engine operating status. The reaction converts the nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water.

The process requires a separate reservoir for this service fluid, which, in the concept car, is located in the spare wheel recess, and offers enough capacity to last a typical service interval for a Mercedes diesel.

(As an aside, Ford also used an SCR system in its Meta One diesel-hybrid concept car. Earlier post.)

DaimlerChrysler will initially offer passenger car SCR technology in the US when its trials have been completed.

Mercedes-Benz Bionic Diesel Concept
Length / Width / Height (mm) 4,243 / 1,815 / 1,594
Wheelbase (mm) 2,568
Displacement 1,991 cc
Engine Power 103 kW (140 hp)
Torque 300 Nm (221 lb-ft)
Fuel cons. (Euro) 4.31 l/100km (55 mpg US)
Fuel cons. (US) 3.4 l/100km (70 mpg US)
Acceleration 0–100km/h 8.2 sec
Maximum speed 190 km/h (118 mph)
Cd 0.19


Joe Benson

Boxfish inspired car.

In a world of ever increasing inovation of various shapes for cars, this one looks very interesting.

The technical possiblities also look interesting.

How can I communicate to Daimler Chrysler that I would loke to be first in line for a test market for one of these boxfish inspired cars in Southeast Tennessee in the USA?

As a retired engineer and technical person, I promise that I'll keep good notes.

Suzanne Mark

Both my husband and I are interested in this vehicle. We both agree that although the over all look is unusual, it only makes sense to observe mother natures designs as they have been perfected for more years than any of us know.

We are owners of a Chevy “Aveo” and have been disappointed in the fuel efficiency. Our prices for fuel in Hawaii have made our commute costly. We have been looking for a fuel efficient vehicle that can still keep up with the fast paced traffic, yet still get terrific fuel economy. This concept car seems like a good candidate.

I was wondering, has anyone thought about trying to reduce the drag/friction of the tires and improving the spindle area? (the area the wheel attaches to the car?) I am no engineer however I’ve been thinking that this would be a key area of “drag” or friction to reduce the over all speed?

Any how just a thought… Much aloha to every one!


I think this design is totally on track. We need to embrace the change happening in the middle east. We need to become energy independant of the arab world. This vehicle would make a major contribution to that end. Keep the ideas comming.



this car is absolutly amazing! it is GREAT on mileage, and it is the craziest looking car ever! i love it!


this car is absolutly amazing! it is GREAT on mileage, and it is the craziest looking car ever! i love it!

Jack Minnick

The BoxFish is a GREAT looking car. The key data is what we need today with FUEL COST. Put the wife & I down for TWO BoxFish. We drive a Mercades ML now.
Come on Mercedes start building the BOXFISH.

Bob the builder

Mannnn who really gives a care about what it looks its a striking car your gonna turn heads regardless. Ok so it doesnt break the speed limit with out a lil challenge and it cant corner like an F1 car but when do you get to drive like that ever,for the most part your stuck in the city or wherever you may be thats a lot of stop and go and etc etc so you want 70mpg
and like a bunch of Germans tirelessly engineered over this...they had a vay of making zat lil fish spreckin their language and it worked for them....i would personally by this car im a young driver i dont wanna pay out the ass for gas,insurance for a young guy like me is already enough.

Put out the car now and if its a good price (wont be its mercedes) id buy one

The dirty one

Richard P. Gunion

This car does not look all that bad-I might buy one with gas prices shooting through the roof. I wonder what fuel economy might be with a gas engine. I noticed the engine in the concept car is 140HP. That is a lot for a small car. Might the car get better fuel economy with a less powerful engine lets say like 110HP? I think Mercedes should market it-people would definately buy it when they need to replace their old car. It does not make sense just to buy the car for its fuel economy since the price tag will probably be around 20K. An old car will only bring 3K in the trade in but if you got a real clunker on its last legs and are in need of new car this could be the one.

David Levi

When I'm looking for a car:

I only care about the price of the car, how much insurance it will cost me, how much gas it consumes & how comfortable it is.

However that doesn't mean that I neglect the beauty & speed of the car, but I don't give them the priority over the factors I listed at the start. I think these factors are more of a luxury for the average working man. If you are rich you won’t be looking at this type of car, because It is not close on the scale of beauty to some of the cars out there, second it can’t break the speed limit without a challenge.

Here is what this car can do for you:

Can help save money on gas & insurance. It provides more safety & a smooth drive for your family. I’m not sure what the price of this car might be, so I won’t comment on that.


R there any of the cars out on the market?

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