WASHINGTON -- Mercedes-Benz calls it the bionic car, a blend of biology and technology. Its code name -- and design inspiration -- is "Boxfish."
At their Impact on America event here last week, DaimlerChrysler AG executives unveiled the four-passenger, diesel-powered concept car. They said it would earn a fuel-economy rating of 70 mpg.
The car also would meet tough new U.S. tailpipe emission standards, the automaker insisted.
Engineers and designers say the boxfish has some of nature's best streamlining. The fish's structure is lightweight but strong. DaimlerChrysler officials say they applied those features to the concept.
"Nature showed us the way," said Thomas Weber, the DaimlerChrysler management board member responsible for research and technology.
Mercedes developed the bionic concept car in Germany. But DaimlerChrysler Chairman Juergen Schrempp said the car reflects the company's intention to sell more diesel-powered vehicles to U.S. consumers.
The concept is powered by a 2-liter, four-cylinder, common-rail, turbocharged diesel engine that makes 140 hp.
Executives acknowledged that the fuel economy rating of 70 mpg would be about 30 percent higher than a production vehicle would achieve.
Industry officials say U.S. emissions standards remain hard for diesels to meet. DaimlerChrysler executives said they would seek to overcome those problems with a particulate filter and the company's "selective catalytic reduction" system.
The catalytic reduction system involves the injection of urea solution into exhaust.
The boxfish takes the shape of a concept car during the design process.
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