Mercedes-Benz recently showcased two world premieres at the opening of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2006 in Detroit: - the innovative E 320 BLUETEC and the GL-Class full-size SUV.

"My main priority for his year is to strengthen the competitiveness of DaimlerChrysler in general and Mercedes Benz in particular. With this aim, we will get all of our business units on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean cooperating even more intensive. And this will further improve our ability to build vehicles that offer everything customers all over the world are looking for," said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Mercedes Benz Car Group head and CEO of DaimlerChrysler Auto Group.

The new GL-Class: first class on and off-road

Mercedes-Benz enters the segment of luxury Full Size SUVs with the all-new GL-Class. Thanks to its unibody design the GL-Class offers seating for up to seven passengers, an exceptional level of comfort and outstanding passive safety. 4MATIC the permanent all-wheel drive from Mercedes-Benz provides the GL-Class with superior handling in any condition.

The GL-Class' modern engine line-up provides smooth ride comfort and superior performance coupled with great fuel economy. This is especially true for the 224-hp V6 engine in the GL 320 CDI which comes with a standard maintenance-free diesel particulate filter. It offers an outstanding 26 mpg making it the most economical Full Size SUV in the world.

At the time of its market introduction the GL-Class is also available with two modern V8 gas engines, including the 5.5-liter engine launched recently in the new S-Class, which also has an output of 388 hp in the GL 500. The second and youngest member of this V8 family has its world premiere in the 340-hp 4.6-liter engine in the GL 450. Both V8s comply with stringent US LEV II emission standards and EU4 limits.

BLUETEC: a new formula for powerful, efficient and clean diesel technology
The E 320 BLUETEC (which will be launched in fall 2006 in the US) is the first BLUETEC passenger car going into series production. Based on the powerful 320 CDI V6-engine the Mercedes engineers have created the world's cleanest diesel engine to date. The crucial factor for this is the latest innovation in the E 320 BLUETEC, a highly efficient technology that significantly reduces nitrogen oxide emissions.

"As a powerful, economical and clean drive system, BLUETEC can significantly help American drivers continue to enjoy large, powerful cars for many years to come whether you are looking at large sedans, vans, light trucks or SUVs. BLUETEC diesel vehicles have the potential to meet the world's most stringent exhaust emissions standards, including those of all 50 US states," explained Dr. Zetsche.

As a result of rising fuel prices, more and more car buyers in America are considering the option of a modern diesel vehicle. Proof of this is the success of the current E 320 CDI since its market launch in April 2004. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz in the USA has seen growing demand for a wider range of the brand's diesel offerings. Mercedes answers this demand by launching the M-Class and R-Class variants with a 320 CDI engine in the fourth quarter of 2006, with other models are set to follow.