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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

DaimlerChrysler Chief Highlights Next-Gen Biodiesel Vehicles

The international head of automaker DaimlerChrysler is calling U.S. attention to his company's new line of cleaner diesel vehicles to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

Today at the Washington (D.C.) Auto Show, Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of DaimlerChrysler AG and the head of Mercedes Car Group, called attention to the new generation of clean diesels -- branded BLUETEC-- while encouraging U.S. lawmakers to set regulations that support adiversity of approaches to reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil.

To emphasize the point, he introduced the 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 with 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine offered with B5 and B20 biodiesel, available to consumers in March. The first to do so and three years before the deadline, the heavy duty truck will meet stringent 2010 truck emissions standards in all 50 states, the automaker says. He also announced the Dodge Ramclean, light-duty turbodiesel engine that will provide up to 30-percent improved fuel economy, meet 50-state, 2010 emissions standards, availableafter 2009. With fuel economy improvements of 20 to 40 percent and a reduction of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by as much as 90 percent, Zetsche stressed that clean diesel technology is a viable solution to reducing dependence on oil and improving air quality.

Zetsche also urged U.S. policymakers to stimulate greater demand and consumer choice for fuel-saving technologies --such as diesel -- by providing equal incentives on powertrains that achieve lower fuel consumption with clean emissions.

"American policy-makers must adopt a new and unique formula ... that encourages more technologies and more [customer] choice," says Zetsche."I've always thought CAFE -- in the country that is the world's model for a free- market economy -- to be a bit of a contradiction. It's an attempt to regulate supply and not to use market forces to stimulate demand for more fuel- efficient vehicles."

Zetsche says that "trying to sell people what they don't want is not a winnable business proposition. And it is that 'anti-free market element' of CAFE that makes life difficult for us. We've learned to live with CAFE and its modest increases."

Zetsche says that the automotive companies should "look toinnovation, and to increasingly substituting petroleum products with biofuels." He pointed to the modern diesel engine which has "plenty of the former, and great potential for the latter."

The Mercedes brand has been pioneering BLUETEC in Europe, where it's been on the road for several years. Since 2005, the company has sold more than 40,000 BLUETEC Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses in Europe, "where they've performed exceptionally well in everyday heavy-duty service," adds Zetsche.

Mercedes-Benz intends to systematically broaden its BLUETEC portfolio. In addition to the recently introduced Mercedes E 320 BLUETEC, three additional BLUETEC models will join the line-up, the R-Class, the ML-Class and the GL Class that will all be assembled at the company's plant in Alabama.

He also says that DaimlerChrysler "is not pursuing diesel to the exclusion of other alternate fuel technologies." Zetsche lists many on-going initiatives including the company's fuel cell activities where DaimlerChrysler has invested more than $1 billion and has more fuel-cellvehicles on the road today than any other manufacturer.

BLUETEC represents the cleanest diesel vehicles in the world, accodring to the company. These next- generation vehicles meet the most stringent emissions regulationsworldwide, including emissions standards in all 50 U.S. states.

BLUETEC is the DaimlerChrysler-owned brand name that stands for the cleanest diesel engines in their respective classes, i.e., those that meet 50- state emissions standards, the automaker says. BLUETEC is just one of the many fuel saving technologies from DaimlerChrysler, including advanced gasoline, Flex-Fuel, hybrids and zero-emission fuel-cell vehicles, it adds.

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