Mercedes-Benz has expanded its center of competence for emissions-free commercial vehicles (Kompetenzzentrum für emissionsfreie Nutzfahrzeuge, KEN) to become the Mercedes-Benz Production Competence Center for Natural Gas Drive. The company’s goal is to provide natural gas vehicles (NGV) in all segments.
When first established in October 1994, KEN was part of the Commercial Vehicles division. Since 2002 the center has been part of the Vans division, as the largest projects from that time onwards involved vans. At that time the predecessor of today’s Sprinter was manufactured there with a monovalent natural-gas engine.
The E-Class and the Econic are already being fitted with natural-gas engines at the Mannheim plant. With the opening of the new facility, they will be joined by the Sprinter and the B-Class. Up to 16 natural-gas variants of the Mercedes Sprinter will be available from the Mercedes-Benz Production Competence Centre for Natural Gas Drive.
In 2003, Mercedes-Benz sold 300 natural gas vehicles; the target for 2008 is 5,000.
(A hat-tip to John!)