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wagger 09-09-2004 05:32 PM

Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars: Highly Successful Launch of Diesel Offensive
Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars: Highly Successful Launch of Diesel Offensive in North America
PR Newswire
September 9, 2004

NEW YORK and STUTTGART, Germany, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Mercedes-Benz has successfully reinforced its position in the United States -- its second-largest sales market -- with a very appealing diesel model, the E320 CDI. In the five months since the vehicle was introduced, it has reached its 2004 sales target of 3,000 units. This spectacular market launch also represents a fabulous comeback for diesel technology in North America.

"By reintroducing modern diesel engines to the American market, Mercedes-Benz is once again underscoring its technological leadership and its expertise in this field," says Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler, responsible for Research and Technology and Development Mercedes Car Group. "Our diesel engines are extremely appealing from both an economic and an environmental point of view, making them perfectly suited for meeting the needs of customers in the U.S. They are fun to drive due to high torque and power and they also offer an outstanding driving range."

Of all the different types of internal-combustion engines, it is the diesel engine that boasts the highest combustion efficiency. Low fuel consumption is achieved in particular by the highly efficient combustion process, making the engine ideal for both stop-and-go city traffic and long-distance travel. With fuel consumption of 37 miles per gallon (U.S. Highway estimate), and a range of around 800 miles, it is perfectly suited for typical U.S. driving habits.

"The great response we are getting from customers clearly confirms that our strategy of expanding the Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup with a powerful yet economical diesel sedan for the U.S. market is correct," says Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, Mercedes Car Group. "Due to the big demand, we will increase the originally planned allocation of 3,000 vehicles this year."

"The E320 CDI marks the successful return of the diesel to the Mercedes-Benz lineup, after a four-year absence in the United States," says Paul Halata, President & CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA. "We are confident the CDI will continue to invite new customers to consider diesels and help shatter the current perceptions of diesels with regard to noise, performance and drivability."

Mercedes-Benz' extraordinary expertise when it comes to diesel engines is also underscored by the above-average demand for its diesel vehicles in Western Europe, where about 57 percent of all Mercedes-Benz customers opted for a diesel-powered car in 2003. For the development of the state-of-the-art common rail diesel technology, Mercedes-Benz invested almost $2 billion into research and technology.

This top ranking is further confirmed by the high level of customer acceptance for diesel systems in this region. New EPA regulations requiring further reductions in the sulfur-content of diesel fuel and the thereby possible tax advantages are expected to give diesel sales in the United States an additional boost. "DaimlerChrysler supports this initiative to increase the market opportunities of diesel automobiles in the U.S. on a sustainable basis in order to provide attractive environmental options for the advantage of our customers," emphasizes Dr. Weber.

Mercedes-Benz has been offering diesel-powered vehicles in the United States since the 1960s, selling more than 320,000 vehicles, mostly E-Class and S-Class models. In the 1980s, about 80 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. had diesel engines

TwitchKitty 09-09-2004 05:53 PM


In the 1980s, about 80 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. had diesel engines
I had no idea the ratio was that high.

I hope their recent success convinces them to import to the USA the more economical diesels like they sell in Europe.

kip Foss 09-09-2004 06:11 PM

The 80% quote is a misprint. Eight per cent is more like it unless they are counting semis but even then it would be no where near 80%.

gutefahrt 09-09-2004 06:16 PM

80 Percent
That should have read 80 percent of the MB cars sold were Diesels. Not 80 percent of cars sold.

tscott 09-09-2004 07:58 PM

The 80% figure, interpreted as 80% of MB car sales in the U.S., is still weird and I'm guessing some kind of misprint (when did you ever see an MB taxi in the U.S.?). OTOH, if a car company flack told me the sun had risen again, I would look outside before agreeing.

george d 09-09-2004 08:21 PM

From the July/August 2004 issue of "The Star" magazine of the Mercedes Benz Club of America:

"The diesel craze actually began in the early 1950s, with the peak years of 1977 through 1985 in the United States. Diesel cars were so popular, in fact, that they accounted for four out of five new Mercedes-Benzes sold in the U.S. during the early 1980s."

4/5 = 80%


AlexTheSeal 09-09-2004 08:41 PM

I have no trouble believing the 80% figure
Look at it this way - the 123 was Mercedes' bread-and-butter model in the early '80s. How often do you see a gasser 123?

Hatterasguy 09-09-2004 10:06 PM

I have never seen a gas W123, I think the 80% figure is right on at least until 1985.

Chris Bell 09-09-2004 10:22 PM

A neighbor down the street has a lovely 123 coupe gasser, the only one I've ever seen.

braverichard 09-10-2004 01:01 AM

The 80% figure is actually perfectly correct (if there's such a statement). I've seen sales figures of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in North America from the '80s and about 80% of the cars sold were diesel powered cars.

Yeah I know, it is really amazing when you think of it. Also, according to some research I read somewhere, there are about 210,000 Mercedes-Benz diesel cars from the 1980s still registered and operating on US roads. That's amazing!!

braverichard 09-10-2004 01:09 AM

One problem exists though...
In spite of any success Mercedes-Benz/Volkswagen may get in making their diesel engines meet future emissions standards, one problem with diesel powered vehicles still exists which will prevent me from ever owing just diesel cars and no gasoline-powered vehicles: cold start problems. The whole idea of having to plug in your car and stuff before a very cold winter night is something I don't think I could live with daily during our harsh winter months. Makes me even wonder how the people in the much colder parts of the country put up with it.

Hopefully they are working on some kind of additive that can solve this problem.

dieseldiehard 09-10-2004 01:26 AM

Hopefully they are working on some kind of additive that can solve this problem
Actually they use kerosene or regular petrol to thin diesel fuel where the climates get really cold. Another solution is move to Arizona or Southern Calif :p

The OM603 engines seem to warm up a lot faster thanks to a fuel heater, I believe that is one major change that MB adopted for the diesels starting in 1986. My '87 has a block heater and I haven't had to use it yet. BTW I have had to use the block heater on my 300TD when we drove to Texas in December! I remember one trip in my NA '79 300TD, that was before I had a turbo engine dropped in it, it was really hard to start in 15 degree (F) weather in West Texas and the neutral sensing switch failed and I was under the car banging on things trying to get the starter to engage:( brrrr.

TimFreeh 09-10-2004 08:16 AM

The more recent OM60X (and I would assume the CDI engines as well) seem to be much better at sub-zero starting than the OM61X engines.

I was a regular user of block heaters on my W123 vehicles, I've never had to use one on a W201/W124 with a OM60X engine.

Unless you live in Alaska or Northern Canada I don't think cold-starts are nearly as big an issue as they were in the 80's.

Hatterasguy 09-10-2004 08:21 AM

braverichard they solved that problem once they started to put computer controls on these cars. A 96-99 will fire right off as long as the fuel isn't gell. I doubt the new CDI will need to be pluged in, it will probably fire almost as well as a gas car in the winter.

braverichard 09-10-2004 08:41 AM

Diesel fuel starts gelling at 20 F. You don't have to be in North Canada or Alaska to experience such a temperature as that's not extremely low. Do you mean to tell me that the CDI / electronic direct injection diesel engines of today can start at that temperature without the use of a block heater?

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