Mercedes preparing green offensive
Who said cost can be a stop to anyone? Mercedes is preparing a huge near-future lineup of diesel, hybrids, Diesotto and, later, fuel cell cars.
Even if GM said the cost for producing this kind of cars will be huge, Mercedes has another point of view: "I hear some competitors speculating that whatever it costs to meet the targets, that will be transferred to the customer. But since this is a legal requirement in order to sell the cars, the willingness of the customer to come up with the full bill will be limited. I consider the realistic definition for the pricetag is that the [customer’s] investment has a payback as a fuel saving during the first three or four years of the vehicle’s life."
The Diesotto engine launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in its F700 concept is making significant progress. It is composed of a suite of technologies, the last of which is its variable compression ratio, "which is the toughest step to execute, involving a lot of investment." Mercedes can get about 85 percent of the improvements without it in three to five years he says, with variable compression ratio seven years away.
The S-class Bluetec hybrid will be launched in the next two years. It will be powered by a clean BlueTec diesel engine that is combined to a hybrid module and produces 299 horsepower allowing 0-62mph to come in at 7.3 seconds.
The B-Class fuel cell will go into production in 2010. Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche believes it can be economically feasible and competitive with conventional cars. "Today we are convinced by 2014 or ’15 we can offer fuel cell vehicles that compete technically and on price with conventional powertrains, in the range of 100,000-plus units a year. It’s a stretch but realistic target." Mercedes won’t wait for a hydrogen infrastructure. It’s in discussions with such power-generation companies as Linde. "One percent of today’s hydrogen production would fuel 5-million fuel cell vehicles, so it’s not a totally new world."
Source: Motor Trend