2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec: Diesel Priced Right

2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec

2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec

When addressing the absence of clean diesel automobile options in the U.S. market, one of the most frequent objections raised by automakers is the price difference between gasoline and diesel engines.

Americans, we’re led to believe, won’t invest in clean diesel if the cost of a diesel engine can’t be offset by the savings in fuel.

Indeed, diesels tend to be significantly more expensive than their gasoline counterparts: the 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI costs over $5,000 more than a base model Golf, and the 2011 Audi A3 TDI is nearly $3,000 more than a base Audi A3.

The cost differential may limit the appeal of diesel, but it certainly doesn’t eliminate it. Neither VW nor Audi has trouble selling TDI vehicles, despite their additional cost.

Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, is taking a novel approach towards marketing clean diesel on its new ML350 crossover. The ML350 BlueTec clean diesel stickers for just $1,500 more than the gasoline version, which makes the BlueTec variant very attractive to budget minded buyers.

The Mercedes-Benz ML350 gets a combined city and highway rating of 19 mpg, while the ML350 BlueTec gets a combined rating of 22 mpg.

Based on the current average price of premium unleaded ($3.93) versus diesel ($3.92), and assuming 15,000 miles per year of mixed driving, the 2012 ML350 would consume $3,100 worth of premium unleaded annually.

The ML350 BlueTec would use $2,670 worth of diesel per year, a savings of $430 a year. The BlueTec option would pay for itself in just under three and a half years.

Audi and VW have proven than Americans will buy diesel vehicles despite the added cost. Now it’s up to Mercedes to show that we’ll embrace clean diesel and save fuel if the prices are comparable.

Let’s hope that more manufacturers follow Mercedes-Benz’s lead on the pricing of clean diesel vehicles.

[The Car Connection]


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Comments (5)
  1. Honestly, will you believe anything MB PR department tells you?

    If you compare the 2011 to 2012 pricing, you will see that MB has put a major price increase for the gasoline powered version of this vehicle to decrease the gap in pricing between diesel and gasoline. That should be the fricking story, not that the diesel is "priced right."

    Also, "BlueTec variant very attractive to budget minded buyers." Seriously, yes all budget minded consumers shop the $50,000 SUV segment. Laughable.

    Also, worth mentioning that they do make a hybrid ML450 with 22 mpg combined for people who which to pretend to be environmentally friendly and not own a tractor motor.

  2. @John: The ML 450 Hybrid is not offered for 2012. And it was only available for lease, not purchase, in 2009-2011. FYI.

    Price parity--or close--between alternative powertrains may become increasingly common. Another is one (near) alternative; others are the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid vs. V-6 (same price).

  3. Well, the Lincoln is probably a better example. At $34,000 is the least expensive Lincoln.

    ML450 Hybrid is lease only, weird. EV1 anybody?

  4. Very low-volume, the only Mercedes-Benz excursion into Two-Mode Hybrid land, and they likely didn't want the maintenance obligations for 10+ years for such a small # of vehicles. So, yeah, kinda like the EV1 in that sense.

  5. In any case, it is fair to say the Mercedes-Benz is better supporting Diesels than Hybrids. It is really to bad because I see a lot of these ML350s driving the streets of Boston where hybrids are a better choice.

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