I am a big fan of Bluetec diesel technology. Not only are these cars capable of delivering fuel economy equivalent to hybrids, they are doing so while providing impressive performance in a true luxury package. Diesel technology also scales to larger vehicles like buses and trucks, where hybrid technology has been ineffectual.
The Bluetec equipped E320 Mercedes was awarded the 2007 World Green Car by a group of automotive journalists. This award is even more impressive when you consider that the other vehicles in the list of finalists included BMW’s hydrogen powered 7 Series and Volkswagen’s impressive Polo Bluemotion, a 62mpg diesel that can be had for $20k. VW’s Passat Bluemotion is equally impressive.
The E320 BLUETEC achieves significantly better fuel mileage and longer cruising range (up to 700 miles) than a comparable gasoline-powered luxury car, but more important, it does it without the usual tradeoffs of diesel ownership. Additionally, the E320 BLUETEC is an impressive performance car, powered by 3.0-liter V6 with 208 horsepower and 400 lb-FT. of torque accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 6.6 seconds.
While most of the coverage of clean auto technology coverage focuses on hybrids, there are a range of technologies emerging from automotive R&D groups that deserve attention because when you stack the two side-by-side the Bluetec diesel will come out ahead.
This also underscores the dangers of governments attempting to shift consumption patterns based on worthy goals but less than objective analysis fueled by popularity contest motivated politicians. California’s perversion of the HOV lanes for a few manufacturers hybrids immediately comes to mind, but also the egregious tax breaks, paid for by everyone else, given out to offset the fat premiums these vehicles carry.
This is also a good time to point out that the diesel powered Audi R10 is once again cleaning up in the American Le Mans Series. Last year the Audi team went undefeated, finishing many races 1-2, which led the race organizers to put restrictions on the Audi cars to level the playing field with the gasoline powered peers. Despite the smaller fuel tank and mandated increased weight, the Audi’s are once again undefeated this season, and show no weaknesses.