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Tuesday, Nov 02, 2004

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DaimlerChrysler to reintroduce clean diesel

Our Bureau

Pune , Nov. 1

GLOBAL car major DaimlerChrysler has embarked on a major initiative that will seek to reintroduce clean diesel to markets across the world.

The company is in the middle of a programme that will campaign for what it terms the "bread and butter" technology of today, namely combustion engines. It is working on next generation fuel injection systems for petrol and diesel engines, which will address the issue of emissions, which is an area of concern for many countries.

Top priority for the carmaker's research strategy is its vision for `accident-free driving'. The company will use a combination of active and passive safety systems including features such as radar systems for collision mitigation.

Even as some of its best-selling models including the S and E class offer systems such as radars that gauge distance between vehicles and adjusts speed for collision mitigation, the company is working on other technologies that can, among other things, monitor driver fatigue, issue collision warning and, in the eventuality of an imminent crash, even steer the car away from its disaster path.

"We are right now working on improving the radar systems and trying to introduce short-range radars in distronics for sensing objects that are nearer to the vehicle against the current range of 50 metres. Work is also on to increase sensitivity of the radar to a better breadth so that a wider expanse is covered," said Dr Bharat Balasubramanian, Vice-President, Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs of the Mercedes car group.

"Almost 15 per cent of the group's investments in engineering go into developing passive and active safety systems which will come up with innovations that will drive our car of the future."

The company spent an estimated euro 5.5 billion on R&D engineering in 2003.

The company is on a road map to reduce fuel consumption and emissions with a five-step strategy that forms the backbone of its `energy for the future' initiative said Prof Dr Herbert Kohler, Vice-President, Body and Powertrain Research, and Chief Environmental Officer, DaimlerChrysler.

"Getting the right technology at the right time to the end user, be it passenger cars or trucks, is the biggest challenge that we continually face," said Dr Kohler. The priority for the company, despite the talk of hybrid cars, alternate fuels and fuel cell technology, will be the conventional combustion engine.

"Over the next twenty years, we will focus on improvement of conventional fuels and optimisation of combustion engines, though we simultaneously are working on a variety of initiatives in hybrid and fuel cell technologies."

The company, incidentally, has 100 vehicles running on fuel cell technology across global markets in Europe, America, Asia and Australia and is poised to considerably step up these numbers, according to Dr Kohler.

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