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Monday, August 31, 2015

The 1981 Mercedes-Benz Auto 2000 Concept Was an Early Gas Miser


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Fuel efficiency has been a hot topic for years with hybrids becoming commonplace, but Mercedes-Benz was already looking in that direction way back in 1981. They debuted the Auto 2000 at the Frankfurt Motor Show as a car that used aerodynamics and mechanical advancements to be as fuel efficient as possible.
The design might not be too appealing, but if you look at that rear you’ll see the Kamm-tail that has become a common feature in hybrids. The wipers and washer nozzles were also tucked behind the A-pillars to further improve the car’s aerodynamics. As for the engine, three different variants were built, each with its own unique approach to design and fuel economy.


According to Classic Driver, the first had a V8 gas engine with a cylinder shutdown system where four cylinders idled under partial engine loads. This is technology that has only recently made its way into modern cars. The next version had a 3.3-liter 6-cylinder diesel engine with twin turbochargers. It was capable of 31.3 mpg at 75 mph. Those are some impressive numbers for 1981.
The final variant was a gas-turbine engine that was small and lightweight. It also had low-pollutant combustion and did not require water cooling. Of the three, this is the one which is still intriguing today. Pieces of the other technologies have made their way into modern cars, but gas-turbine engines have yet to be used in a production vehicle.