The push towards greater fuel efficiency has consumed nearly everyone. Here in the U.S. we have finally become more concerned about building vehicles with better fuel efficiency for both the environment and our dependence on oil, but in Europe they are already consistently making vehicles that stand head and shoulders above cars in the U.S. However, three major European luxury manufacturers, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, have just been withholding these models from American car buyers.
The most fuel efficient BMW available in the US, for example, is the 335d with its diesel engine that gets a combined 27MPG. Over in Europe they have virtually the same car, the 320d Efficient Dynamics, that can get up to 57MPG, based on European testing. The 320d utilizes start-stop technology that shuts the engine down at stop lights, uses low friction tires, and breaking that recharges the battery.
The big three have been holding out on the U.S. for a while now for a few reasons. First and foremost, they just don’t know that these models will sell. In America, luxury is defined by horsepower and performance, not fuel efficiency. Some of the necessary technology, namely start-stop just hasn’t caught on yet. As an Audi spokesman put it, “American’s think something’s wrong with the car,” referring to the shutting down of the engine while idling. The other major reason for the holdout is that all of these top vehicles are diesel and the EPA regulations require much more extensive exhaust scrubbing here than they require in Europe, an added cost for manufacturers.
However, there is hope, each of these three have announced that Americans can expect to see at least a few of these models in 2012. The Mercedes S-Class will be the first Mercedes diesel in the U.S. since1997. The S-Class will have a 3.0L V6 diesel engine capable of doing 20 miles to the gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon on the highway, a significant upgrade from the 14 MPG city and 20 MPG highway the current S-Class is getting. The U.S. can also expect to see new engines in the high performing Mercedes S63 and CL63 AMG’s. Both of them utilizing start-stop technology, and downgrading to a smaller V8 direct injected, turbo engine.
While still remaining a high performance vehicle and getting 15 city and 22 highway miles per gallon, Mercedes most popular sedan the E-Class is also getting an engine upgrade going from a 5.5L gas sucking V8 to a 4.6L V8.
Audi also has plans to bring the diesel versions of the A8, A6, and Q5 state side for the 2012 model years. Eventually, Americans can expect Audi to deliver their most popular model, the A4 with a diesel engine.
Though BMW and Audi will be brining a few models to U.S. they are still weary of demand and will wait to see how their new models perform. Will Americans be interested in a crossover SUV that is almost 3 inches shorter than the Ford Focus? Only time will tell!