More stories related to Geneva Motor Show GENEVA – DaimlerChrysler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit delivers European consumers added environmental benefits by deciding to make particulate filters standard on every diesel-powered passenger car beginning this summer.

The particulate-filter equipped diesel vehicles initially will be available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The European Union’s latest EU4 emissions standards (which took effect Jan. 1) dictate a 50% reduction in particulate emissions from passenger-vehicle diesels – from 0.05 grams per kilometer to 0.025 g/km – compared with the previous EU3 standard that was adopted in 2000.

Depending on the diesel engine and the exhaust-aftertreatment system used, the new EU4 standard compels most auto makers to consider fitting particulate filters as standard equipment. (See related story: Emissions Legislation Pushes Market for Diesel Particulate Filters)

Mercedes SLK 320
CDI tri-turbo

Diesel now accounts for a large majority of Mercedes sales in the EU, Mercedes-Benz chief Eckhard Cordes says.

“The proportion of diesel sales in Western Europe is 56%, the highest ever in the company’s history,” he tells reporters during a presentation at the auto show here. “In certain markets, the proportion of diesel-powered versions of Mercedes models already exceeds 70%.”

Cordes says the move makes Mercedes the first auto maker to meet the EU4 restrictions “without exception,” although Volkswagen AG, Jaguar Cars, BMW AG and other vehicle makers have optional or standard equipment that helps vehicles comply with EU4.

Mercedes uses the announcement as a springboard to tout new diesel models, including the ML 320 CDI and ML 280 CDI SUVs. Both will be available in the all-new M-Class SUV when it launches in Europe this year.

The compact design of Mercedes’ new CDI 3.2L diesel V-6 enables the auto maker to package the engine with its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, which will debut on the E320 CDI 4Matic sedan and wagon in European markets later this year. The 3.2L CDI also makes its way under the hood of the CLK.

The biggest news on the powertrain front, however, comes in a small package: The SLK 320 CDI tri-turbo concept, which produces 286 hp and 464 lb.-ft. (630 Nm) of torque, with 0-62 mph (100 km/h) acceleration in 5.3 seconds.

The concept 3.2L diesel V-6 features three turbochargers. Two are located on the outside of the engine next to the cylinder banks, while a larger third unit is placed in the “V” area between the cylinder banks.

At low engine speeds, air flows through all three turbochargers, while at higher speeds the larger third turbocharger takes on most of the work, and the smaller units are shut off by means of a bypass system.

Looking to the future of diesel technology, Mercedes provides a preview in the Vision SL 400 bi-turbo roadster of its upcoming family of diesel V-8s. Producing 315 hp with a peak torque rating of 539 lb.-ft. (730 Nm), the engine is mated to Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic 7-speed automatic transmission, which recently has been upgraded to withstand up to 553 lb.-ft. (750 Nm) of torque.

Says Cordes: “The new V-8 diesel powerplant will be premiering shortly in the E-Class and S-Class, which makes us all the more certain that the future of diesel power is just about to begin.”

kekelly@primediabusiness.com