Mercedes-Benz has just introduced a new dual-fueled version of the Sprinter van that can run on either gasoline or natural gas. The big van is powered by a 156hp supercharged 1.8L four cylinder with 177lb-ft of torque. Mercedes claims the Sprinter NGT has thirty percent lower operating costs than the diesel version thanks to tax breaks on natural gas. The Sprinter is available in wide range of configurations including the panel van shown, low and tall roof cargo vans, and passenger vans. Depending on the body style, up to six CNG tanks can be fitted below the floor providing a range of up to 745 miles. The Sprint NGT will be available starting in May.

[Source: Mercedes-Benz]

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter really steps on the gas
  • Natural gas-powered Sprinter 316 / 516 NGT goes
    into series production
  • Operating costs up to 30 percent lower than diesel engines
  • Low emissions
  • High output of 115 kW (156 hp), powerful torque
  • Wide range of variants, market launch in May 2008
Stuttgart - Clean and economical at the same time – the natural-gas drive reconciles these apparent contradictions. The new Sprinter NGT with bivalent natural-gas drive system underscores this view: substantially lower exhaust and noise emissions, considerably lower operating costs and a long range combined with the standard-fit drive are just some of the benefits.
Operating costs up to 30 percent lower than a diesel
Natural-gas powered vehicles are the perfect choice once you do the maths. Just take the Sprinter NGT: its operating costs are substantially lower than the diesel-engined equivalent. And these savings are guaranteed long term. For instance, a reduced tax rate applies to natural gas up to 2018. So natural gas only costs half as much as petrol in relation to energy density. Energy suppliers entice operators to purchase natural-gas vehicles with direct subsidies or fuel vouchers. Financial institutions such as the KfW also offer cheap loans to finance these vehicles. In addition, certain motor vehicle insurers are offering environmental discounts on premiums. Natural-gas vehicles registered as passenger cars like the Sprinter crewbus are rated for road tax purposes just like the petrol-engined versions fitted with a catalytic converter. All of which adds up to a saving of up to 30 percent of operating costs compared with an equivalent diesel version. And compared with the petrol-engined model the cost savings are even greater.
Low emissions, EU4 classification
Natural-gas engines are also very clean. The Sprinter NGT meets the EU4 emissions standard.
Natural-gas engines do not emit particulates; the emissions of nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide have also been reduced dramatically compared with the diesel engine. What's more, the engine is extremely quiet. Compared with the petrol engine, you are essentially looking at a saving of around 20 percent in terms of CO2 emissions, not to mention reduced carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. The Sprinter NGT is virtually CO2-neutral when powered by biogas.
Long range thanks to bivalent drive
Mercedes-Benz has gone for a bivalent drive on the Sprinter NGT. The basic engine, a four-cylinder unit with a displacement of 1.8 litres, will also run on petrol, extending the range up to 1200 kilometres.
The driver can switch between the fuels by pressing a button to the left of the ignition lock. An indicator lamp comes on when in natural-gas mode. A display in the cockpit also lets the driver know how much gas is left in the tank. Filling up with natural gas is also easy using the filler connection just above the filler neck for the petrol tank.
High output of 115 kW (156 hp), powerful torque
Thanks to the belt-driven supercharger with a compressor, the unit develops 115 kW (156 hp) and reaches maximum torque of 240 Nm. Both figures apply both to gas and petrol mode. As such, the new Sprinter NGT comfortably exceeds the figures of its predecessor (rated output 95 kW/129 hp, torque 185 Nm). The engine on the Sprinter NGT has already proven its worth in the Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. The natural gas-powered Sprinter is fitted with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, and comes with the option of a driver-friendly torque converter.
The gas tanks are installed beneath the floor to save space and avoid restricting the cargo load at all. The 3.5-tonne Sprinter can accommodate up to six tanks that hold a maximum of 46 kg or a volume of 294 litres. The model with a gross vehicle weight of 5.0 tonnes uses three tanks that hold 39 kg or 246 litres. A constantly expanding filling station network – there are currently around 2500 filling stations throughout Europe – ensures an extensive supply of natural gas in urban areas.
Extensive tests completed successfully
The best possible safety comes as standard on any Mercedes-Benz vehicle. For instance, the Sprinter NGT not only meets the specific safety standards for natural-gas vehicles enshrined in ECE Directive R110, but it has also successfully passed a series of extensive in-house tests and simulations. The extra weight of the natural gas-powered Sprinter compared with a Sprinter fitted with a four-cylinder diesel engine comes to a modest 170 to 300 kilograms, depending on the model and based on the standard specification. This figure will vary in line with the number of gas tanks fitted.
Wide range of variants, market launch in May 2008
A wide range of variants is available for the Sprinter NGT: the Sprinter 316 NGT, for instance, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 3.5 tonnes comes as a panel van, crewbus, pickup and chassis in the standard length. A long-version panel van, pickup and chassis are also available. A pickup and chassis are also available under the designation Sprinter 516 NGT with a gross vehicle weight rating of 5.0 tonnes.
The new models will be launched from May 2008 in certain countries and with certain equipment specifications.