Last spring, Mercedes-Benz displayed a made-for-North America E250 BlueTEC Concept vehicle at the New York Auto Show. This week in Geneva, it moved the eco marker one step beyond by adding an electric adjunct to the 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine used in that experimental E-Class to create a production model that will be called the Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Billing it as Western Europe's first diesel hybrid, the car will go on sale there -- but inexplicably not here in the U.S. -- starting late next year.

The E300 BlueTEC Hybrid is based on the current E250 CDI model, but incorporates M-B's latest strain of modular hybrid technology. In addition to its 204-horsepower turbodiesel, this new variant slots a compact 20- horse electric motor/generator between it and a seven-speed automatic transmission. Fed by the same compact Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery used in the S400 Hybrid, it helps bring the total system output to 224 horsepower and 428 lb.-ft. of torque. While Mercedes says those healthy output numbers give the E300 BlueTEC Hybrid better acceleration than a typical six-cylinder diesel, it will reportedly achieve over 57 mpg on the NEDC cycle.

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As expected, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTEC Hybrid employs a host of economy-enhancing design touches. Beyond the conventional start/stop, regenerative braking and electric activation of the power steering, brake booster and air-conditioning compressor, the car's "intelligent" computer controls automatically tweak the engine mapping on freeway runs to help lower fuel use and actually decouples and switches it off to enter as "sailing" state whenever the vehicle begins to coast down from speeds above 50 mph. M-B says the car will be able to travel "short distances" around the city at speeds of up to 22 mph in pure EV mode.

Initially, the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid will be available in sedan and station wagon body styles. If or when they finally do journey to America remains an open question.

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