While here in the U.S. the big Mercedes news is Arnold buying a Unimog, in Europe, they're being wowed with a new natural gas vehicle the company will be unveiling in Paris later this month.
The B200 Natural Gas Drive (NGD) is a B-class entrant that Mercedes-Benz will debut at the Paris Motor Show at the end of September. The hatchback is the same as its brethren in this popular line of "larger small cars" in Europe and uses the unique "ENERGY SPACE" configuration Mercedes has been working on for its multi-fuel option platforms. This allows the B200 to retain its cargo and passenger compartment characteristics and modular body components no matter the drive train being used. The B-class is offered as a petrol (gasoline) and diesel option and will now be offered in natural gas.
The B200 NGD is based on the petrol engine version and retains the same drive train components. The fuel tank, however, has been removed and replaced with three compressed methane tanks as shown in the cutaway above. A small 12-liter gasoline tank is also included as a backup precaution should the natural gas run dry.
The B200 NGD consumes 4.2kg / 100km of natural gas and puts out 156 horsepower while doing so. Emissions are about 16% lower than with standard petrol in the B200 BlueEFFICIENCY petrol, upon which this NGD version is based. The B200 NGD is slated for model year 2013 and will meet September 2014 Euro 6 requirements. All while costing the European driver about 50% less in fuel for the same distance traveled.
In Europe, while conventional natural gas is the norm, many municipalities also offer biogas and synthetic gas produced by landfills, solar arrays and wind farms. The B200 NGD has a range of about 311 miles (500km), drives at speeds up to 200km/h (124mph), and accelerates from 0-62mph in about 9.1 seconds. Because the switch between natural gas and gasoline (petrol) is not driver controllable, the B200 retains its natural gas vehicle status under European tax law.