Mercedes' green future

* We test Mercedes' eco technologies * Smart mhd and ed * BlueEFFICIENCY and BlueTEC...

Mercedes' green future

Mercedes recently showcased a range of environmental technologies to be launched over the coming months and years. We went along to try out a few of the new arrivals.

Smart mhd Micro Hybrid
On sale: Now
Price: 7060

You might not really think of the Smart mhd as a hybrid at all. Even though it is just a Smart with a stop-start system, the mhd is satisfyingly more efficient than a standard petrol version of the two-seater.

Mercedes says that in urban traffic, CO2 emissions are reduced by 10% with a drop in fuel consumption of 13%. Its official combined fuel consumption figure is 65.7mpg.

Stop-start systems often switch off if they detect the battery is suffering, but during our drive it worked the entire time. Whats more, while many systems cut the engine only when you come to a standstill, the Smart's stops it when you drop below 5mph.

Smart mhd Micro Hybrid
On sale: February 2009
Price: 7915
The diesel Smart has been available on the Continent for some time and finally arrives in the UK next year.

It has the lowest CO2 emissions of any production car at 88g/km, enough to make it exempt from VED.

With that CO2 output there is also extraordinarily good fuel economy, which is 85.6mph on the combined cycle. However, this also means the 45bhp diesel Smart isnt exactly quick - with 0-60mph taking 19.8secs.

Smart ed
On sale: 2010
Price: 15,000 (est)
Trial versions of the electric-powered Smart ed are already running, with 100 selected drivers given the chance to lease the car in the UK.

By 2010 youll be able to buy one for yourself and enjoy 0-60 in 6.5sec, 60mph top speed and a range of 50-70 miles from an eight-hour charge.

Exhaust emissions are, of course, zero, but based on the average mix of sources of electricity in the UK, the Smart emits 62g/km and costs 1.1p per mile to charge.

C180 BlueEfficiency
On sale: January
Price: 23,350

Eco-models such as the BlueEfficiency, which are modified to optomise fuel economy, often cost more than the standard cars theyre based on, but the new C180 isnt one of them - because the 50 saving in VED is passed on to the customer in full.

The C180 Blue Efficiency is fitted with a responsive 201bhp engine, but the good news is that average fuel consumption is an impressive 44.8mpg with CO2 emissions of just 149g/km.

The C180 is a core addition to the BlueEfficiency range, will expand further in 2009 with additions to the A- and B-Class ranges in March, and the C250 CDI model next autumn.

On sale: Not for now
Price: n/a
Mercedes says its BlueTec is the cleanest diesel in the world.

Particulate emissions are low, while urea is used to significantly reduce the amount of nitrous oxide emissions by converting the gas to nitrogen and water.

These methods, however, do increase CO2 slightly, which mean Mercedes isnt introducing the technology in this country for now.

VED and company car tax are solely based around CO2 in the UK, so BlueTec is at a financial disadvantage compared with competitors.