Every major carmaker in the world has had its attention drawn, forcibly in some cases, to the issues of fuel efficiency, carbon emissions and sustainability. As the industry moves forward, these concerns are staged to take even greater importance in the overall design and planning of new cars. Mercedes-Benz has released an outline of how it will accomplish this task in the years ahead.

By applying technologies currently in existence and developing them further, Mercedes hopes to combine several angles of engineering and design to yield a line-up of efficient and green cars that still offer Mercedes' trademark mobility and luxury. Under the BlueEFFICIENCY label, which includes aerodynamic upgrades, lightweight design and energy management and the BlueTEC label, which focuses on the mechanical improvements to be made, like forced induction, direct injection and smaller displacement engines, Mercedes will work to make conventional cars that place environmental sustainability at the forefront of design. The combination of these technologies can yield over 12% improvements in fuel consumption.

The company also has plans for hybrid drivetrains, zero-emissions battery-powered vehicles and cutting-edge combustion engine technologies that marry the best of diesel and petrol engine design, like Diesotto.

Mercedes' F700 'research vehicle' (pictured) equipped with a Diesotto engine has shown it can offer 238hp and 400Nm of torque while still delivering fuel efficiency of 44.4 US mpg (5.3L/100km) on standard petrol. Carbon dioxide emissions are similarly low at 127g/km, about 20g/km higher than a significantly less powerful Toyota Prius hybrid.

The company's pure electric offerings are still in the distance, but its S400 BlueHYBRID is due for release in 2009, and will use high-tech lithium-ion batteries to help it achieve greater fuel efficiency while still remaining a suitable executive sedan.

The new S400 Hybrid will feature a 279hp (205kW) petrol V6 combined with a hybrid module delivering an additional 20hp (15kW) and 160Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is expected to average 30mpg (7.9L/100km) and CO2 emissions stands at 190g/km, which are quite low for the class of car.