Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mercedes announces new 42mpg 170hp Bluetec. But where is the Bluetec Hybrid?

According to the Wired autopia blog, Mercedes has just announced a Vision C 220 Bluetec. "Mercedes says its 125 kW / 170 hp engine manages to get a hundred km (not miles, so don't get too excited) out of 5.5 litres of diesel. "

To answer the question that every American reader will have about this announcement, here's the answer:

According to the figures above, the Vision C 220 Bluetec will get 18.2 kilometers per liter, which is about 42.8 miles per gallon, out of its 170hp 4-cylinder diesel engine.

That's great. So, why not make it a plug-in hybrid? The thing would f*cking smoke if it had a decent electric engine running in parallel with that diesel!! We're talking... probably around 80 mpg, perhaps, just by going to hybrid, maybe more like 120 if there's a lot of city driving using plugged-in battery power?

So, riddle me this, Dr. Z: Why hasn't MBZ created a hybrid vehicle, much less a plug-in hybrid vehicle?

When might we expect the first plug-in Bluetec hybrid?

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I have been advocating for a plug-in diesel hybrid for some time. Perhaps Mercedes will be able to use this Bluetec technology to ultimately build such a vehicle?

Or, maybe it will be Toyota that finally produces the first such vehicle? They have reportedly already produced a diesel-hybrid truck, but it cost $10,000 more than its non-hybrid counterpart.

But for good ole' MBZ, where a car costs $41,000 anyways, what's another $10k between friends? If a diesel-hybrid vehicle could be produced that came with a 10-year, 500,000-mile warranty to justify the extra expense, and a financing plan to boot, I bet people would buy it.

After all, according to the above article,
"A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment found that even with aggressive research, fuel-cell cars won't beat diesel hybrids on total energy use or greenhouse gas emissions by 2020."
So, somebody will make a diesel-electric hybrid. Maybe a lot of somebodies. Volkswagen is also working on it:

Volkswagen will enter an experimental diesel hybrid car at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai next month, a contest for alternative powertrain vehicles.

"The technology is there and has been well known for years. The problem with hybrid is the battery technology," a VW spokesman said, noting no one yet has come up with a hybrid battery that lasts as long as the car it powers.
So, if battery technology really is the sticking point right now, then perhaps we will see progress soon. Toyota has already announced plans to switch to Lithion-Ion batteries for its third-generation hybrid vehicles, due out in 2008 or 2009, a move that they expect will bring the cost of hybrid vehicles down to the level of other vehicles, while extending battery life and increasing efficiency.

The potential of diesel-hybrid technology is huge. University of San Diego engineering professor Jim Burns has reportedly developed a $60,000 diesel-hybrid sports car that gets 80 mpg and does 0-60mph in 4.3 neck-jerking seconds. He says that if he gets 10,000 orders, he'll mass-produce the vehicle.

Finally, according to the WSJ, a French consortium, using batteries from Wisconsin, will be producing an electric van for the French postal fleet, and hope to have a plug-in diesel hybrid version of the van for sale to the public by 2010.

1 comment:

familytram said...

outstanding vehicle. i like to own one someday.