Car and truck maker DaimlerChrysler is betting clean diesel technology will become a cornerstone of American energy policy in the near future-with biodiesel critical to the success of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S.
"Diesel will be good for America, and biodiesel makes diesel better," said Loren Beard, senior manager for fuels at DaimlerChrysler at a conference held in Washington DC, hosted by the American Lung Association and the National Biodiesel Board.
"Emissions of particulates - an important issue in congested urban areas - can be reduced more than 80% with modern, clean diesel engines running on biodiesel, with a B20 fuel blend made up of 20% biodiesel mixed with conventional diesel fuel reducing particulate matter emissions by up to 15%," Beard said.
DaimlerChrysler will market five diesel-powered light vehicles in the U.S. in 2007: Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD sport-utility vehicle with 3.0-liter diesel engine; Mercedes-Benz E320 luxury sedan with 3.0-liter engine and BlueTec emissions technology; and three new Mercedes-Benz utility vehicles, R320 CDI, ML320 CDI, and GL320 CDI. In addition, the Dodge Ram pickup and Dodge Sprinter van also offer diesel engines in the U.S.
Beard noted that diesel vehicles have significant environmental and consumer benefits compared with gasoline vehicles:
· An average of 30% better fuel economy.
· Up to 20% less emissions of carbon dioxide.
· Increased performance - up to 50% more power and 30% more torque.
· Longer life and increased resale value.
"The use of biodiesel extends the benefits of diesel technology," Beard stressed. "Biodiesel significantly reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions from diesel vehicles, because plants absorb carbon dioxide during growth. Tailpipe emissions are also lower with biodiesel and the country reduces petroleum use significantly at the same time.