For those of you with the dream to drive in the same vehicle as a European politician, Mercedes-Benz has taken a commanding lead in being the government whip of choice.
According to a survey by environmental organization Umwelthilfe—which translates to “Environment Aid”—228 of the top government leaders across the European Union supplied data about their official vehicles: CO2 emissions, fuel consumption and engine power. In terms of environmental friendliness, Mercedes-Benz led the pack, thereby ensuring that every cabinet meeting and ribbon-cutting ceremony was accomplished with the smallest carbon footprint possible.
Is any victory too small to celebrate? We think not. Mercedes-Benz announced that it increased its fleet-wide fuel efficiency by 4.3 percent last year, a feat no doubt helped by the example of those setting policy in Europe. Practicing what you preach has always been a means of gaining respect for leaders, and they’re going to need every liter they can get because the EU—which the U.S. will most likely emulate—has an ambitious goal: increase fuel efficiency of all automakers by 30 percent by 2020.
How will automakers make such a monolithic leap without sacrificing things like performance and comfort? The automotive engine has a giant target painted on its back. Many companies like Volvo, Ford and now Porsche are implementing smaller four-cylinder engines that weigh a lot less and can be adapted for a variety of models.
The cost-savings of a multi-platform engine would be highly welcome at Mercedes-Benz. According to the automaker, more than half of its six billion euro research and development budget goes to green technologies. A smaller engine would be less expensive to manufacture, and if it were made with to accommodate a multi-platform strategy, the cost savings could be substantial.
At stake, of course, is Mercedes-Benz’s reputation for performance. Time will tell how it goes.