WASHINGTON, D.C. – Daimler-Chrysler executives unveiled a four-passenger, diesel-powered concept car here last week that they say would earn a fuel economy rating of 70 miles per gallon (3.4 liters per 100km) and would meet tough new US tailpipe emission standards.
But what is more striking about the car is the inspiration for its design: an odd undersea creature called the boxfish, which engineers and designers found has some of natures best streamlining and a structure that is lightweight but strong.
During development, the project was code-named Boxfish. But the concept is officially called the Mercedes-Benz Bionic Car. Bionics is the term used for the combination of biology and technology.
While it was developed in Germany, DaimlerChrysler Chairman Jürgen Schrempp said the Bionic Car is further evidence of the companys intention to sell more diesel-powered cars and trucks in the US.
The Bionic Car is powered by a 2.0-liter, 140hp, four-cylinder, turbocharged common-rail diesel. D/C says the fuel economy rating of 70mpg would be 30 percent better than that achieved by a comparable production vehicle.
Emissions standards would be met in part with a particulate filter and with DaimlerChryslers selective catalytic reduction system – the injection of urea solution into exhaust.
The unveiling was an attention-getting feature of an unusual three-day program of demonstrations and social events that DaimlerChrysler conducted here last week.
The multimillion dollar program is called Impact on America and is designed to remind and inform hundreds of policy makers and opinion shapers about the companys employment, investments, products and services in the US.
The centerpiece of the program was a 10-acre exhibit in the Washington Convention Center, featuring a village green in the make-believe town of Independence.
On display around the green were company products new and old. They ranged from a 1905 Mercedes-Benz to a 2006 Dodge Charger.