Based on the new 2006 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Bluetec Hybrid uses what the company claims to be the "cleanest diesel in the world." A process called Selective Catalytic Reduction--literally the use of urea (that's urine to you and me) injected into the exhaust--neutralizes gases and reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent. Like hybrids sold by Toyota and Honda, this S-Class deactivates the internal combustion engine when it is not needed and reclaims electric energy during braking and coasting. The hybrid system allows a twenty-percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to a conventional S-Class diesel.
The Bluetec's 243 combined horsepower isn't anything to write home about, but the 400-plus lb-ft of torque is enough to propel the Benz battleship from zero to sixty mph in just over seven seconds--about as fast a gasoline-powered V-6 S-class. While this vehicle is cool in concept, Mercedes-Benz has made it clear that fuel cells are potentially more effective, so the Hygenius concept--also shown here in Tokyo--is a clearer indication of Mercedes-Benz's future.