The new Mercedes sprinter has been put on a greener leaner diet for 2010. Mercedes is revamping their efforts to introduce a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) version of their Sprinter to fleet customers, nine years after their previous attempt at CNG failed.
The new Sprinter range comes in the traditional diesel and petrol version but now with the added option of a petrol CNG hybrid. Unlike Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) CNG is not dependant on oil, making it a viable fuel alternative for the future.
Mercedes could be making a wise business decision ahead of its competitors, with Melbourne set to introduce 5 CNG fuelling stations in the near future. Considering most major depots already contain CNG fuelling stations for operating equipment such as forklifts and current hybrid trucks, CNG hybrids could be a smart way to go. Power ranges from 66kW to 138kW to help haul those big loads.
With the spacious interior available for up to 17.5m long the Mercedes sprinter offers the perfect balance of efficiency and pulling power. Features like the Adaptive ESP that stabilises the engine and breaks according to the load make this van a safe and enjoyable ride.
The addition of the CNG fuel tanks doesn’t even impinge on storage space, with 5 tanks located throughout the undercarriage. The CNG version costs an extra $7000 compared to its petrol counterpart. This investment would take an owner 150,000km to break even from fuel savings (source: GoAuto News).
If fuel efficiency savings are all a fleet manager is after that’s not a bad investment. Trial CNG versions of the Sprinter are being delivered to large fleet customers to try and encourage adoption of CNG technology. Hybrid alternatives seem to be making headway in the commercial market and the fleet market is also heading that way.
Before either take off the government needs to commit to building the infrastructure to facilitate alternative fuel sources. The question is will it be electric hybrids, alternative fuels & gases like CNG or both? If the new Sprinter is an example of what is to come then the argument for alternative fuels looks strong.