( Worldcarfans ) - Going back over 25 years, Americans have veered away from diesel cars due their reputations of being noisy, smoky and slow. Since gasoline prices in the U.S. have remained relatively inexpensive compared to the rest of the world, cheaper diesel fuel prices still did not provide enough value for Americans to consider it.
However, this was not the case for Europe. With soaring gasoline prices, diesels have thrived and currently make up almost 50% of the European market. Over the years, European auto makers have vastly improved diesel technology to the point where all of the negative characteristics of diesel are no longer valid and in fact proving to be more efficient than gasoline engines.
As of yesterday, October 15th 2007, Mercedes-Benz USA started offering its E320 BLUTEC in limited numbers to California residents via a two-year/24,000 mile lease program. This offering is significant because it marks the E320 BLUETEC as the first diesel car to meet Californian smog emission, which are the most strict in the world.
Compared to gasoline vehicles, the E320 BLUETEC's main benefit includes a 20-40% higher fuel efficiency (700 highway miles on a single tank of fuel) without sacrificing styling, interior room, performance or driving dynamics. According to the press release, "...the V6-powered E320 BLUETEC diesel is able to provide the powerful torque of a large V8 engine with the low fuel consumption of a four-cylinder compact." As a direct mechanism of reduced fuel consumption, significantly lower carbon dioxide and NOX emissions are also achieved as well as particulate levels, which are comparable - if not better than gasoline vehicles.
With the green light given in California, Mercedes-Benz USA's next step is to offer the lease program to the remaining 49 states in 2008. Mercedes is also planning to roll out in 2008 the BLUETEC technology to the M-, R-, and GL-Class vehicles with a new BLUETEC system utilizing AdBlue injection. Ad Blue refers to, "a process that adds precisely measured quantities of a urea-based solution into the exhaust stream which enhances long-term emissions performance sufficient to meet the stringent BIN 5 standards."