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Mercedes to Introduce “50-State-Ready” E320 BLUETEC Diesel in the US

The E320 BLUETEC. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz upped the diesel ante in the US by announcing that it will introduce an E320 BLUETEC sedan to the US market in the Fall of this year. This would be the vehicle’s first introduction, worldwide. The company also announced a BLUETEC version of its just-introduced full-size SUV GL family—the VISION GL 320 BLUETEC—using the same powertrain and similar emissions control system.

The E320 BLUETEC will deliver about 35 mpg US (6.7 l/100km) and be“50-state ready” for emissions restrictions (given the availability of the EPA-mandated ultra low-sulfur diesel)—meeting, in other words, even the more stringent emissions standards of states such as California where new diesels currently are not sold.

The full-size SUV version will deliver about 26 mpg US (9.4l/100km)—the highest of any full-size SUV to-date, and possibly slightly better than GM expects to deliver with its upcoming twin-mode hybrid Tahoe full-size SUV. (That said, the GL BLUETEC is still officially a concept, with no firm release date.)

The Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler will make use of BLUETEC technology as well, and introduced at the Detroit show a concept BLUETEC Jeep Grand Cherokee that promises 25 mpg US. Dieter Zetsche, Head of the Mercedes Car Group and CEO of DaimlerChrysler since January 1st, who made the announcements, also said that the company will work on diesel hybrid implementations (some of which were announced at the Frankfurt IAA event last fall.)

Each of the US-bound BLUETEC vehicles announced uses a V6 diesel engine that develops 155 kW (211 hp) and 540 Nm of torque.

The emissions aftertreatment systems on each differ, however. DaimlerChrysler uses BLUETEC as a term to refer to a combination of technologies for passenger cars and light trucks to reduce all relevant emissions. Components will vary with the vehicle.

The E320 model uses an oxidizing catalytic converter, an advanced DeNOx catalytic converter, a particulate filter, and a Selective Catalytic Converter (SCR) in that sequence. The VISION GL uses a combined oxidizing catalytic converter and particulate filter, a urea-injection-based method for reducing oxides of nitrogen from the exhaust stream (AdBlue), and a catalytic converter. Diagrams of each emissions system are below. (More details on the specifics of each to follow in a subsequent post.)

Bluetec2 Glbluetec
E320 BLUETEC Emissions System. VISION GL320 BLUETEC Emissions System.
Click each diagram to enlarge.

The oxidizing catalytic converters (diesel oxidation catalysts—DOC) oxidize CO (carbon monoxide) to CO2 (carbon dioxide) and HC (hydrocarbons) to H2O (water) and CO2.

The DeNOx catalytic converter and the urea-based AdBlue system in combination with the SCR catalytic converter tackle NOx reduction, and the self-regenerating particulate filter handles PM.

Mercedes-Benz’ strategy for developing its BLUETEC platforms includes the following:

  • Optimization of the engines and their combustion processes to minimize in-cylinder emissions. This includes electronic engine management, four valves per cylinder, third-generation common-rail direct injection with piezoelectric injectors, a turbocharger with variable nozzle turbine and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR).

  • Oxidizing catalytic converters to minimize emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned hydrocarbons (HC).

  • A particulate filter, fitted as standard in all Mercedes-Benz diesel cars in many countries since summer 2005, to reduce particulate emissions by as much as 98%, thus undercutting even the current EU 4 particulate limits (0.025 g/km). This technology also ensures compliance with the US limits currently in force.

  • The use of BLUETEC to cut oxides of nitrogen. The BLUETEC Selective Catalytic Reduction system reduces oxides of nitrogen by up to 80%, according to Mercedes. The decisive factor in ensuring that the catalytic converter works extremely efficiently is precise metering in line with the current engine operating state.

Mercedes-Benz has already deployed its BLUETEC technology in commercial vehicles with a GVW above six tonnes, with more than 10,000 so-equipped untis on the road. The BLUETEC trucks, according to Mercedes, already exceed the Euro 5 specifications coming in 2009.

The announcement of the E320 BLUETEC marks a more aggressive stance toward using diesels as a solution for increasing demands for fuel economy in the US. So far, however, that has encompassed only the larger vehicles. The application of BLUETEC in a Jeep, even in a concept, however, might mark the beginning of a broader diesel roll-out that would impact some of the smaller platforms, such as the new Caliber.



I knew somebody was going to anounce a 50 state legal diesel at this year's detroit auto show. And GM said it couldn't be done. LOL.
This should open the flood gates for other 50 state legal diesels in the near future.


Lo and behold, all the bitching and moaning about the high diesel standards reducing sales in tUSA.

It wasn't GM who said it couldn't be done IIRC -- and you're welcome to post a link to a quote -- no, IIRC, it was folks around here who would constantly complain that the high standards were preventing the high MPG new diesels from being sold on this side of the pond.

Nevertheless, hopefully this Mercedes will be the first few of many models to be sold in America, helping to elevate the fleet MPG.



The real problem is diesel fuel costs $2.75 per gallong while gasoline goes for $2.20 in california right now. Buying a diesel makes less sense than buying a gasoline hybrid.

Suman M Subramanian


Thanks for the link with Lutz's quote - interesting!

As far as the price difference between gasoline & diesel, the factor that's most important isn't the *absolute* difference, but the *relative* difference. In your example, diesel costs $0.55 more per gallon than gasoline, or 0.55/2.20 = 25%, so as long as a diesel gets at least 25% better mpg than a comparable gasoline vehicle, the diesel will actually cost less to operate despite the higher fuel cost. Here in Arizona, diesel's closer to $2.60 & gasoline is also around $2.20, so the percentage difference is only 0.40/2.20 = 18%. Compare, let's say, the gas Jetta that gets 28 mpg (average of both city & highway EPA mpg) with the diesel Jetta that gets 35 mpg (ditto): the diesel's mpg is (35-28)/28 = 25% better than the gasoline version. With current fuel prices therefore, in AZ it makes sense to get a diesel while in CA you'd be breaking even. Of course your mileage may vary, which is why I'm just using the EPA numbers for the sake of comparison.

Note that with hybrids, you have to pay about $3,600 extra up front for the technology compared to a non-hybrid gasoline vehicle. Taking the Honda Civic as an example, the hybrid gets 48 mpg & the standard one gets 34 mpg. Again assuming $2.20 per gallon for gasoline, you'd have to drive nearly 56k miles before you came out ahead - that's nearly 5 years for most people, or roughly the point where they'd be trading the car in. Still, many people might be willing to pay a bit extra for the knowledge that they're polluting less. Also, if you itemize your taxes there are tax credits that can help offset some of the price difference, so you may break even sooner.

Everyone needs to do the math for their own situation to see what makes the most sense for them. Personally, if I were in the market for a new car, I'd look at diesels first, but that's just me. I'm curious to see what kind of selection we'll have for the '07 model year, when more diesels & hybrids will be available.


Don't get my wrong. If it was my own car, I would pick a diesel over a hybrid any day despite any negative cost difference. I can't wait for honda and toyota to bring over some of their 4cyl diesel in the Corolla and Civic.


Great post Suman. I love it when people break it down with real MPG figures and fuel costs instead of how most people just say "it will take X number of years yada yada yada", especially when they don't include miles driven per year ect.

The MPG figures you quoted with the Civic seem to be for teh 2005 models, in that case the '05 Civic Hybrid only cost $2,390 more than an '05 Civic EX sedan. Right on the money for $3600 difference for the '06s though, and the mpg are very similar (35 vs 50).

On the diesels...I'm not too familiar with them but generally don't diesels cost more than non-hybrid gasoline models as well? So you have to remember to factor that in too. I don't know if all diesels do, or by how much but something to think about. The Jetta diesel is $1,000 more than the "2.5" Jetta or $3,400 more than the "value edition". I assume the "TDI" trim is more similar to the "2.5" trim than the "value edition", although I don't know for sure.

In Kansas City where I'm at diesel right now ranges anywhere from as low as $2.26 up to $2.79, and those prices are all within the last 48 hours on kcgasprices.com. Gasoline is anywhere from $2.16 to $2.34. Near my home Diesel goes for $2.49/gal and gas is right around $2.30.

Paulo Nery

Can anyone illuminate me on the 50-state issue? Are diesel engines subject to different regulations in each state? If that's it then what kind of differences? And what about gasoline engines -are they subject to different regs per state too?

Sorry to seem thick, but I'm in the UK where diesels are increasingly popular. I drive at VW 1.9 TDi and get 34mpg city and 55mpg highway. I get biodiesel when I can, though it's difficult in London and think that's as close to carbon neutral you can get right now.


Paulo, the state of California has it's own stricter emission standards and several other states (atleast 4 or 5 in the northeastern US) have adopted to follow California's tougher emission standards too. The past couple years no diesel car sold in the US market could pass those standards, so they were only available in 45 or so states. Diesels in pickup trucks do not have to meet those same emissions so you can buy a diesel pickup truck or SUV in all 50 states.

Diesel fuel in the US has had significantly more sulfer in it than the kind used in Europe, it's slowly changing and by 2007 I believe we'll be using the same low sulfer diesel as Europe (though I'm no expert on the subject). From what I've read a lot of the after treatments used in european diesels to clean up the emissions couldn't work with our high sulfer fuel, but now that the ultra low sulfer diesel fuel in being phased in we should start to see more of the diesel engines you guys get in Europe. Right now theres only a handful of diesel cars available in the US. VW's TDIs and MB E320. And that's it besides pick ups and a few SUVs.

Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Suman M Subramanian

Eric, thanks for the feedback, and you're right about needing to factor in any additional cost of a diesel vehicle into the analysis. I got my price & mpg data from edmunds.com; looks like they may be up-to-date on the former but not the latter. I'm surprised Honda raised the cost of their hybrid that much this year - a whopping 50%! I read recently that Saturn's bringing out a hybrid version of their Vue SUV later this year that'll "only" be $2,000 more than the non-hybrid version - a bargain compared to Honda, although obviously the Civic & Vue will appeal to different demographics.


Well the '03-'05 Honda Civic Hybrid could never run on pure battery power alone, the '06 model can at certain times. I assume they had to make the electric motor and battery pack a little bigger to handle the new electric only cruising mode. I would hope slightly increasing the electric motor and power capacity as much/little as they did wouldn't cost $1,200 though.

Theres an article on this website about the Vue hybrid that says it gets 27/32mpg (compared to 22/27 with the non hybrid) and that the hybrid option costs less than $2,000, and the hybrid VUE starts at under $23,000. That's $4,500 cheaper than Ford's entry level Escape Hybrid, which gets 36/31mpg. If someone does mostly highway driving the VUE maybe a better choice with it's cheaper price tag and ever so slightly better highway mpg rating.



You make a great point about cost/mile vs. cost/gallon. I'm paying $3.31 gallon for pure biodiesel, but my car (golf tdi) predictably gets 47-52 mpg. This is equivalent t o someone getting 23 mpg and paying $1.66/gallon at the pump. Also, I spend half the time fueling as my range is 800-900 miles/tankful. NoW HoW Much WoulD yoU Pay!

CARB needs to think a little more deeply about letting in clean diesel. The harm of NOx and particulates (asthma, cancer) are way overempasized over the harm of CO2 emission (catastrophic planetary changes).


Dave Zeller

Diesel Engines most certainly are the cheapest way to save energy and money, and in heavier cars and light trucks, can bring about fuel consumption that rivals much smaller cars. Diesels usually get anywhere from 50% to 100% better economy when compared to gasoline counterparts. In addition, unlike hybrids, they do not possess horrendously expensive batteries that must be replaced from time to time

Right now Greaves-Ruston is producing their 3.95 liter 3YDC Mk III diesel engine that is turbocharged and intercooled. It has been constantly improved and modified over the years, as it is based on their original 1958 design.


Powerplants like this if installed in the large pickup trucks and SUVs that Americans love to own, could easily achieve economies of 30 m.p.g. in the city, and 40 m.p.g. on the highway circuit (while capable of 75-80 m.p.h. cruising speeds). This engine has NO electronic components at at, hence would probably be most reliable.

Yet we still don't see such technology over here, and probably never will, for whatever reason, usually some fool California or EPA regulation that argues diesels are more polluting regardless of the fact they use 2/3rds to 1/2 of the fuel of a gasoline powered vehicle

Richard Stewart

As a transplanted Canadian now in Ohio, I still don't understand why diesel is right now at best $0.25 more per gallon than regular gas in the US. I really don't understand the diesel pricing "system" in the US. When I first had a Jetta TDI in spring 2004, the fuel was $0.75 less than regular and this past fall it has been $0.90 MORE per gallon of regular. In Canada it has always been priced below regular. I switched to the Passat diesel wagon in December '04 and with the high torque in the diesel, it is a dream to drive. The price premium difference is less than a $1000. What people rarely talk about is the savings from keeping the car longer. Since I travel over 35000 miles per year, and I plan to keep the care for at least 5 years, there will be distinct savings in repairs that I can factor into my cost savings due to better durability of the diesel engine.


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Suman M Subramanian

Richard, you raise a good point about reduced maintenance costs needing to be factored into the cost analysis. Regarding your other point about diesel cost, I have no idea why it costs more than gas here in the U.S.; that's interesting that it's cheaper up north.

Marshall, thanks for the feedback, and might I add that YOU DA MAN for fuelling your car with B100! That's exactly what I want to do with my next car. Supporting farmers at the expense of OPEC is a wonderful concept. :)


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Why diesel fuel is so high.

The way I percieve it, there are several reasons.

Diesel fuel, as opposed to gasoline, more truly reflects supply/demand and other economical forces that normally drive the price of commodities, because U.S. government entities do not as intensely use tools to minimize economical forces. In other words, state governments and federal governments are more interested in price stability of gasoline as opposed to diesel fuel and more controlling tools are used to create this stability. As a result, diesel fuel, as is the case with most commodities, has more substantial price fluctuations than gasoline. This is why you will see diesel fuel below the price of regular gasoline for a number of months and then see the price above premium gasoline for many months.

Diesel refineries have been incurring the added cost of retooling for upcoming ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel that must be distrubuted nationally in September of 2006. This cost has been incurred accross the board in the U.S. and Canada and has been passed on to the consumer. Although some states have required reformulated gasolines, there has not been a major reformulation to gasoline, nation wide, since the switch from leaded to unleaded. This reduction from 500 ppm of sulfur to 15 ppm sulfur is a major undertaking.

Diesel fuel is subjected to a much higher federal tax than gasoline, and many states levy heavier taxes on diesel fuel as well.

Even with the advent of ULSD fuel, diesel fuel will still be cheaper to refine than gasoline. If our government will treat both fuels with equal treatment in the future, we should see the price of diesel below that of gasoline in the long run. This, however, is a big "if". I think that if diesel autos really catch on in the U.S., we will get equality.

Greg Faulkner
Rickman, TN
2006 Jetta TDI using B20 (20% biodiesel/80%petro-diesel)


You guys talk about the jetta TDI getting 35 miles per gallon. How is that even possible. I have an 03 jetta with 70000 miles and have never recorded less than 44 miles per gallon and the best I've gotten is 55. I use 100 percent biodiesel in the summer and notice no differance in performance or milage, it just runs quieter and there is hardly any aromatics.


I have a 1997 Passat TDI that has 220,000 miles. Gets adv 43 mpg in winter and 49 mpg summer. While traveling in Germany, rented an Opel diesel, (GM) and ran on biodiesel that is available at most fuelings stations. Very powerful and with no visible or smell exhaust. Opel markets and sells millions of hybrids and diesels in Europe. GM makes noone of the cars available to US customers.

Regarding higher diesel prices. I'd say that the primary reason is that the oil corporations know that most commercial trucking and other transportation (air) contracts now have pass through fuel charges. (Look at your UPS shipping and ticket charges for the fuel surcharge.). Since this is an indirect fuel charge, final consumers do not see it when they purchase food, clothing, furniture, etc. But it is in the final price of everything. High gasoline prices are politically sensitive. So the oil corporations, in compact with the auto corporations, have made gasoline more attractive than diesel, while reaping higher profits from the diesel pass-through charges that consumers unwittingly pay whether they drive or not.

Higher fuel prices in general are caused not by a deficit in the raw materials, but by a conscious policy of petroleum refiners/marketers/producers to introduce a refining capacity bottleneck into the stream. Refiners have been shutting down refineries for years to reduce refining capacity. That is a good thing in a way because it has caused a re-thinking of fuel efficiency.

On the other hand, the automobile industry still has a monopoly on ground transportation by elimination of the mass transit option in the United States. In most of Europe, one can take a train or bus to nearly any destination. Most trains have tables where one can do work on a laptop, read, etc. That is where the real fuel cost equations rack up big numbers. It is a societal overhead equation. Mass transit also results in fewer fat people, because people have to walk to the metro or bus stop instead of walking to the garage. That little bit of walking reduces the hidden "fat tax" we all pay for fat-related health costs.

The United States has the most inefficient transportation system in the world because it is based around individuals using their time and money to chauffer themselves routinely to work and market in multi-ton steel, aluminum, and plastic vehicles- a waste of time and resources, not to mention the tens of thousands killed and maimed each year. Light rail and urban planning would be the most efficient societal solutions. But we have an irresponsible Congress on the payroll of oil and auto companies and real estate developers, so little change will happen soon. So, "green vehicles" must be seen in the context of the transportation matrix. It is impossible to have a green transportation structure where the system wastes 85% of all the inputs making cars for individuals who sit for hundreds of hours each year locked in traffic or sitting at stop lights.

I have not performed the calculus, but one would have to admit that the average American pays multiple thousands of dollars for a very unsafe and inefficent transportation system, figuring in the cost of roads, automobiles, insurance, lost time in commuting, etc. To achieve efficiency parity with a well-planned societal approach using mass transit, the individually piloted automobile would probably need to get somewhere near 700 mpg, and even then, I doubt it could be more efficient, because fuel is not the most weighted component of the transportation equation.


I own a 1984 Mercedes 300 turbodiesel stationwagon with 348,000 miles on it. Even with the old injection technology and a 3750 lb. car, I get 22 to 26 miles per gallon in town, on the highway, high or low altitude, up hill or down hill. I still have the original timing chain and have replaced nothing on the engine or transmission other than regular maintenance items at Mercedes recommended intervals. I have run 3 tanks of pure vegetable oil with no decrease in power, a much smoother running and better smelling engine with no soot from the exhaust during heavy acceleration. Several diesel Mercedes owners here are running their cars on recycled deep fat fryer oil from fast food establishments. I would love to see more biodiesel available in my area as I would gladly support our farmers over overseas oil concerns and pay to replace some minor fuel lines, filters and gaskets to bring my car car up to specs to run 100% biodiesel as much of the time as I can.

otis wildflower

Wanna know why diesel is more expensive? 'Cuz it's wintertime and, since diesel is the same thing as home heating oil (sans tax die), diesel gets more expensive in winter and cheaper in summer.

At least in NJ, diesel typically costs as much as (or more than) premium gas in winter, and as much as (or less than) regular in summer.

And while the shift to low-sulfur carries an impact, at least there aren't like 18 grades of diesel out there, as there are with gasoline. I don't think diesel suffers from the whole state-mandated patchwork of boutique blends that gas does.

John Nelson

We want to buy a Mercedes 320 or comparable diesel sedan or station wagon, we live in California and can't get any clear responses or dealerships or time table for legal sales of such vehicles. Please help! John Palmdale CA

Lance Funston

Speaking of biodiesel in Germany. I heard they had forced blending by removing tax exemption on it, and B100 is no longer available at filling stations. Is that true?

Does anyone know how to locate biodiesel stations in Germany?

Vincent Salgado

With respect to the price of diesel I offer the following: At my local Shell Station at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Fessenden Street, NW in Washington, DC, On July 11, 2006, regular is 3.20 per gallon. Diesel is $2.89.

dee arscott

i saw the same thing too Lance when i was in D.C. i was about too post it. i live in miami and around my area of work in Medley Diesel is cheaper since we have a lot of commercial trucks. . btw when are the going to make a diesel hybrid???? GM has hybrid trucks and Diesel Trucks why not combine them since that Silverado(or 1500 i think) gas-electric hybrid really sucked

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