BMW, Mercedes to Offer Diesels in Japan

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At the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, which opens to the public this Saturday, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz showed off their new diesel models for the Japanese market.  Audi had previously announced plans to import diesels but called off those plans in August of 2010.  An Audi spokesperson at the Tokyo Motor Show, when asked about BMW and Mercedes’ new diesels that were at the show, told me that “Audi is going in a different direction [than the competition].”  Indeed, Audi had several hybrids on display at the show.

At its stand in the West Wing of the Tokyo Big Sight convention center, a white X5 xDrive 35d with right-hand drive and the words “BMW BluePerformance” prominently placed on the doors made its premiere. The X5 is the first BMW diesel ever to be sold in Japan.

The X5’s 3.0-liter inline-six comes with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and develops 245 hp and 398 pound-feet of torque. This is somewhat less powerful than the U.S. version, which develops 265 hp and 425 pound-feet of torque but it may have been necessary to detune the engine to meet emissions standards in Japan.

The X5 xDrive35d will go on sale in 2012. Pricing was not announced.

Mercedes-Benz, in the East Wing, had an extensive display of BlueTec technology along with a white Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec wagon.  Both the E350 BlueTec wagon and sedan are already on sale in Japan. Equipped with right-hand drive and Japanese-language user interface, the E350 wagon in Avantgarde trim has a base price of ¥8,330,000, which translates to $107,000 at today’s exchange rates.   The vehicle is eligible for Environmentally Responsible Vehicle Promotion tax benefits at a 100% exemption. Specs are similar to the U.S. version, which is currently in our long-term test fleet.   The turbocharged V-6 develops 211 hp (U.S. spec is 210) and 400 pound-feet of torque (same as the U.S. version).

Both Toyota and Honda sell diesels in Europe but are reluctant to sell them in their home market.  Toyota has 45% of the new car market in Japan.  Earlier this week,  it was announced that BMW will start to sell Toyota Motor Europe 1.6- and 2.0-liter diesel engines starting in 2014. The engines are to be installed in Toyota vehicles slated for sale in Europe.





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