Special Coverage

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GENEVA – DaimlerChrysler AG’s Mercedes-Benz luxury unit, spurred by the success of the new 3.2L Bluetec clean-diesel engine in the E320, is developing a 4-cyl. version of the engine, DC Chairman Dieter Zetsche says.

Zetsche tells reporters at the auto show here the smaller Bluetec will displace 2.2L, making 170 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque.

He says it will have small-car fuel consumption of 43 mpg (5.5L/100 km).

Mercedes displays the Vision C220 Bluetec concept car here with the 4-cyl. clean diesel, of which Zetsche says Mercedes is “working full speed toward the launch of series production.”

He says the engine will be compliant with the next-generation of European diesel emissions regulations, Euro 6, going into effect in 2015.

Already on sale in the U.S. since last fall, the 3L V6-powered Bluetec E320 arrives in Europe in 2008.

Meantime, Zetsche says fuel economy has been improved across the new C-Class lineup of up to 6%.

The C200 Kompressor model, for example, uses 5 mpg (2 km/L) less fuel than the previous generation, while horsepower and torque are increased, he says.

Since its introduction in the U.S. in late January, Mercedes has sold more than 55,000 new C-Class cars, Zetsche says.

The auto maker for the first time is offering a choice of trims, including the Elegance, Classic and Avantgarde, with the latter having Mercedes’ badge affixed to the center of the grille instead of the hood.

Zetsch says Mercedes’ second-generation direct-injection gasoline engines have increased in fuel efficiency, as well.

He points to the new E350, which goes on sale later this year with increased horsepower and torque, up 20 hp and 11 lbs.-ft. (15 Nm), respectively, while consuming 10% less fuel than a 3.5L V-6 with gasoline injection mill.

Mercedes’ 2.2L 4-cyl. diesel engine with direct injection sees a similar boost in output and torque, up 20 hp and 44 lbs.-ft. (60 Nm), with average combined fuel economy rated at 39 mpg (6.1 L/100 km).

Overall, Zetsche predicts Mercedes CDI sales of 12,000 units this year, thanks to the strong reception of the E320 model in the U.S.

The auto maker will offer Bluetec versions of the GL-Class, M-Class and R-Class models in the U.S. in 2008, with all certified Tier 2 Bin 5.

“Mercedes customers are concerned about ecological issues,” says Leopold Mikulic, vice president, Mercedes Car Group-engines and powertrains. “We are in a good position to provide products to them.”

– with William Diem

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com