The best line about Mercedes Benz’s green car technology comes right from Daimler CEO Deiter Zetsche. He quips, “If you know you’re going to arrive a bit late to the dinner party, be sure you bring the best wine.” In terms of Mercedes vehicles, expect an entire wine tasting. The company lagged behind the Japanese competition on gas-electric vehicles, but already offers three clean diesel vehicles (unfortunately all SUVs), will soon deliver its first hybrid, and is promising all-electric and fuel cell vehicles before too long. Of course, any fuel-saving technology will be put in service to Mercedes-Benz’s hallmark qualities: performance and luxury. But in the pursuit of those ideals, Mercedes is breaking new ground by engineering the first clean diesels and the first hybrid—the 2010 S400 BlueHybrid—to use a lithium ion battery. These technologies will be pricey at first, but once Mercedes shows how they can be done, will move into more affordable packaging.

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