By Jaymi Heimbuch (Yahoo! Green)
In less than 7 years, Mercedes-Benz plans to ditch petroleum-powered vehicles from its lineup. Focusing on electric, fuel cell, and biofuels, the company is revving up research in alternative fuel sources and efficiency. The German car company has a few new power-trains in the line-up that European journalists have had the opportunity to test out in the Mercedes facility in Spain. One vehicle includes the F700, powered by a DiesOtto engine that combines HCCI and spark ignition to get nearly the same efficiency as diesel, but minus the expensive after-treatment systems. The engine can run on biofuels, and we may have a purchasable vehicle by 2010 -- a year that seems to be popular for the debut of a lot of new alternative fuel car models, making ’08 and ’09 simply thumb-twiddling years for consumers. I don’t know, maybe car makers just like the roundness of “2010.” The company’s next big step will be to launch a Smart electric car which is fuel and emission-free.
Anyway, Mercedes is looking into electric vehicles, both battery-powered and fuel-cell powered. Not only are models in development, but we’ve also seen the company making steps towards its zero-petroleum goal right now, from better cabs in London to li-ion battery improvements. The company also has about 100 Smart electric cars undergoing testing in London, with that favorite 2010 year as the projected market release date. Mercedes is making serious investments, already putting nearly $4 million into the pot of its long-term Sustainable Mobility plan, with another nearly $1.4 billion going in before 2014. While car models may be able to run on fuels other than gasoline or diesel, we have yet to find a method of both running and producing vehicles entirely free of fossil fuels. I’m waiting for a mainstream car line that creates renewable fuel, clean-running vehicles out of 100% recycled materials in plants run on 100% renewable, clean power … Will I even be alive when that finally happens? I have hope.