Chevrolet Europe Unwraps its First Diesel Compact Car: 49 MPG Lacetti TCDi
VW Introduces Concept Small SUV with New Diesel and BLUETEC

DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen/Audi Launch BLUETEC Initiative

DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen and Audi officially announced that they intend to establish the BLUETEC brand name as the designation for particularly clean, highly fuel-efficient passenger cars and SUVs with diesel engines. (Earlier post.) Although BMW was earlier rumored to be a partner as well, the company is not joining the  BLUETEC initiative. (Earlier post.)

Under the shared concept of BLUETEC, each of the manufacturers involved will be working on their own technical systems for the most stringent current global emissions standards and successors.

The latest J.D. Power study, Global Outlook For Diesel, predicts that the share of diesels among first-time registrations in North America will rise to more than 15% by 2015. It is in the light of this development that Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen say they will be systematically expanding their ranges of diesel vehicles.

The name BLUETEC presently covers diesel engines with exhaust emission treatment systems meeting the US Tier 2 Bin 5 standards. The systems employed by BLUETEC serve in particular to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) the only constituent part of the exhaust gases which, due to the design of the diesel, inherently lies above the value for gasoline engines. In this way it will in future also be possible to meet the strict limits imposed by the State of California.

Depending on the vehicle class concerned, various NOx treatment systems can be used. In one version designed for a lighter-powered application, for instance, an oxidizing catalytic converter and a particulate filter are combined with a further improved, particularly long-life NOx storage converter.

Another method—injection of AdBlue, a separate, water-based additive, into the exhaust gas—is used for more demanding situations.

Accompanying the BLUETEC announcement, Volkswagen introduced its Concept Tiguan SUV powered by “Clean TDI”—the first Volkswagen BLUETEC-labeled product.

BLUETEC is a brand of DaimlerChrysler which is already being used by the corporation’s Mercedes-Benz cars and commercial vehicles. In future the name BLUETEC will also stand for clean diesel engines from Audi, Volkswagen and Jeep in the United States.

In September, DaimlerChrysler announced that it is targeting three US BLUETEC models in the R-Class, ML-Class and the GL Class as early as 2008 that meet the 50-state Bin 5 emissions standard. (Earlier post.)

The current E320 BLUETEC, introduced to the US market in October—timed to coincide with the introduction of low-sulfur diesel fuel in the USA—is not Bin-5 compliant, and went on sale as a 45-state vehicle.


Rafael Seidl

I'm hoping the promise of significant LDV market share for diesels in the US will prompt DCX and VW/Audi to redouble their efforts to address quality concers. Their ratings in the JD Power & Assoc. surveys have been slipping of late, especially compared to the Japanese.

Toyota and Honda both started offering diesels in Europe a few years ago, because they represent half the addressable market here. Both vendors heavily leveraged the European supply chain resources to deliver competitive engine designs on their first attempts. Indeed, Honda's engineering team lead hated diesels so much he insisted on being given a clean slate so he could come up with something he'd be willing to sign his name to. The company even ran an unusual hate-based ad in the UK.

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