Mercedes-Benz Preps Four-Cylinder Diesel Engine. But Will Americans Buy?

By Joel Arellano | April 19, 2012
For possibly the first time in history, government regulations and consumer tastes have coincided. On the one hand, government regulations here in the States and abroad require car engines to have fewer emissions and be more fuel efficient than ever before. On the other hand, consumers are buying such vehicles in droves. Finding the right engine combinations that'll satisfy both is tricky, especially as competition intensifies worldwide. Diesel-powered cars are getting the limelight in this new world order. Previously shunned by most Americans, new technologies and--most importantly--strict regulations have eliminated the "black smokers" of yesterday. These new diesel engines, though, continue to offer plenty of low-end power (torque) and hybrid-level fuel economy figures, and it’s the latter that's getting consumers' attention. Mercedes-Benz is about to become one of the latest to join the ranks of four-cylinder diesel engine manufacturers, following the roads dominated here in the U.S. by Volkswagen and followed by VW's Audi luxury brand and BMW. Mercedes-Benz SL project manager Gunter Fischer, in an interview with Ward's Auto, believes Mercedes' upcoming four-cylinder diesel engine will provide the necessary 35.5 mpg mandated by the federal government by 2016. Fischer sees such an engine powering the upcoming A-Class and the future Mercedes-Benz C-Class, GLK-Class, and potentially the E-Class or SLK-Class supercar. Currently, diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the U.S. (called "BlueTEC") use a V-6 engine. States Fischer, "I think when the market demands cars which are more fuel-efficient regarding (carbon-dioxide emissions), then diesel could be a good thing to achieve that because of thermal dynamics."'s takes: As any VW TDI owner can tell you, there's nothing wrong with today's modern diesel engines. We still continue to see the average American, though, flinching at the pump when they see diesel prices equal to premium unleaded or even higher. It also doesn’t help most diesel-powered cars in the states carry a premium price tag compared to their non-diesel counterparts. It can take diesel car owners years to recoup that price differential just like hybrid car owners. The latter, though, don't suffer the price difference at the pump as well. Source: Ward's Auto