It's not just the every-man car companies that are focusing on improving fuel efficiency: even top luxury automakers like BMW, with its EfficientDynamics technologies, are turning their attention to saving fuel. Not to be outdone by its German rival, Mercedes-Benz says it will implement stop-start technology on all its engines, and reduce drag to below .20 Cd on all its vehicles within five years.
"I won't name a year when we will achieve this goal," said Christoph Spengel, the head of engine development for Benz's latest V-6 diesel, referring to the stop-start technology, "but it is a priority for Mercedes. We are pushing hard, and there is the possibility to jump ahead of BMW.
The automaker plans to introduce its stop-start technology for the first time on the four-cylinder gas engine used in the E200 CGI (which hasn't made it to the U.S. yet, but may very well do so in the coming years), starting next year. Although engineers aren't content with the implementation on automatic models yet, they plan to resolve their issues by 2011. When that happens, Mercedes will introduce the technology on its V-6 and V-8 models.
"Fitting the system to any engine and gearbox is not a problem, we can get reliability quite easily," said Spengel. "Achieving the smoothness of the start is the real problem. Engaging the starter takes a little time, and then firing the engine takes a little time, and it is important that our system does not disturb the driver."
In addition to the introduction of start-stop technology, Mercedes will also work to reduce the coefficient of drag on is vehicles to less than .20 Cd. At .24, the 2010 E-Class coupe already has one of lowest coefficients of any production car, but Rainer Tiefenbacher, the project manager for the E-Class coupe, said the new car is just the beginning.
"There is still plenty more to come as we explore ways of improving fuel efficiencies," Tiefenbacher said. "Designers are still learning about what works aerodynamically and are having to consider it more and more when they think about how a car will look.
"There are big steps to be made, especially around and under the engine hood. Twenty years ago we celebrated .30 Cd, in five years we will reach the next big step."