'09 Benz BlueTEC Vehicles Get Big Tax Credits

September 19, 2008
Big news for Mercedes trio of BlueTEC diesels; Uncle Sam has graced the ML 320 BlueTEC, GL 320 BlueTEC, and R 320 BlueTEC with diesel consumer tax credits. Going on sale October 1, all three models have achieved 50-state compliance and can travel 600 miles on one tank of fuel (don't say "gas"). According to Detroit News, by way of Jalopnik, the vehicles now earn the Qualified Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit, which allows purchasers to receive a tax credit.

How much of a discount can diesel shoppers expect? Depending upon an individual's tax status, the credits range from $900 on the ML to a significant $1,800 on the GL 320 BlueTEC. The R 320 BlueTEC falls in between with a $1,550 credit. The best value would appear to be the GL 320 BlueTEC, which is actually the lowest-priced GL in the U.S. market, ringing in at a lower purchase price than both the GL 450 and GL 550 gasoline models. This is unusual, as diesel engines nearly always command more dollars than their gasoline counterparts.

Like U.S. automakers whose fortunes depend heavily on the government's financial boosts, diesel and ethanol seem to be in a competition fueled (har!) by the government's policies and whims. In the race to be THE clean, green fuel of our country's future, ethanol has been trouncing diesel, with a recent bill approved in the House that gives a $50,000 credit to all fuel retailers who choose E85 when alternative fuel pumps are required in 2018. But not to be outdone, diesel tax credits have been rolling in for new clean diesel models trickling hesitantly back into the U.S. marketplace, including the '09 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel.

Which pump would you rather visit, E85 or Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel? For that matter, how about biodiesel and hydrogen? All four of these fuels fulfill the 2018 alternative fuel pump requirement for every U.S. gas station.--Colin Mathews

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