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Diesotto a decade away

Future-Benz: F700 previews next-generation S-class styling cues, but its variable-compression engine could be further off.

Variable-compression Diesotto engine still 10 years away, says Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz logo25 Jan 2008


THE Mercedes-Benz variable-compression Diesotto engine is at least 10 years away from production.

Automotive engineers around the world have been trying to develop the variable-compression engine, which basically runs like a petrol engine at low speeds and a diesel at high speeds, for several years.

Mercedes presented the F700 concept car at last year’s Frankfurt show and it appeared that the German brand had finally mastered the variable-compression technology, which delivers huge fuel economy gains.

Despite all the fanfare, however, the Mercedes Diesotto engine is nowhere near production-ready.

Mercedes head of research and product development Thomas Weber told GoAuto in Detroit last week that he hoped the Diesotto would make it into production around 2018.

Even though production is so far away, Mr Weber insisted Mercedes had developed a running prototype of the Diesotto engine.

“It works and I think in 10 years from now, that is my forecast, we could have the first engine in production,” he said.

Mr Weber would not go into exact details of the technical issues that will take so long to work through, but did confirm Mercedes was confident the Diesotto powerplant would make it to production.

“So far we don’t see any hurdles that we cannot overcome. There are some issues, that is clear, therefore we have a process in place starting with (a) one-cylinder (engine),” he said.

 center imageMr Weber also said Mercedes was looking for help to develop the Diesotto engine from universities and potentially rival car-makers in order to save costs.

“There are a lot of patents out and we protect our IPs (intellectual properties) on the Diesotto side, but we will invite universities, suppliers, also our competitors sometimes to combine their knowledge and do it earlier than we did it in earlier fields,” he said.

“That was also the way we did it with our hybrid co-operation.” Mr Weber said the lean Diesotto engine would be an attractive proposition for car-makers, but admitted there were also significant costs involved.

“One of the success stories is that we can use conventional gas, we don’t need all the high-tech cost-intensive measures on the emission side. That saves cost,” he said.

“Of course, we do need new and expensive materials for the crankcase because of the variable compression.” Mercedes sees Diesotto as an eventual successor to regular petrol combustion engines, but not as a replacement for Bluetec diesels for quite some time.

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