MB do a Talladega

Consider this post a follow-up to the other posts recently published about the possible rise of diesel powered cars in the US.

Mercedes Benz recently completed a 100,000 mile, Talladega-style run in 3 E-class diesel-powered vehicles in Laredo, Texas. The totally stock cars stopped for refuelling, routine service and driver changes only, covering the distance in 30 days at an average speed of 139.699 mph – that’s MPH – and they still got 18mpg.

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The full story is reported at Inside Line and it’s a very good read. Some key excerpts:

The central idea is to show America that diesel-powered passenger cars are fast, quiet, reliable and economical. “Up until now,” said Dr. Michael Kramer, head of passenger car development for the E-Class, “people in the U.S. just [haven’t been] aware of the advantages of today’s diesel engines.” If the proportion of diesel-powered cars in the U.S. increased to 50 percent, as it is in Western Europe, we’d save 2.3 million barrels of crude oil per day….

…That said, there’s no denying that this is a pretty remarkable accomplishment. I was able to make six laps in a backup test car that, unlike the three test cars, was not governed at about 235 km/h (around 146 mph). This test car ran right up to 260 km/h (around 161 mph), the last number on the speedometer. As we know from testing this engine on the street, acceleration is more than adequate, and torque even better, managed seamlessly by the seven-speed automatic. But what we haven’t had much opportunity to do is drive at 260 km/h for an extended period of time, and that’s telling: There is no indication — none — that you’re driving a diesel. No clatter, no lag, no smoke….

….As for the future of diesels in America: We drove multiple European models from San Antonio to Laredo, including an AMG-tuned CLK, and there is simply no downside to these modern diesel automobiles. Power is more than adequate, torque is of the stump-pulling variety, and if the cars do what Mercedes says they will — which is meet all state and federal pollution requirements using low-sulfur fuel (available here in September 2006) — sign us up. According to a spokesman for the Diesel Technology Forum, this new fuel will be “only a few cents” more expensive than current diesel fuel

Jay Spenchian, I really hope you’ve got some plans to get the Saab diesels here in the next few years when fuel regs are accommodating. If you’re having trouble figuring out the rules, Fred can help, OK?

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