Last week’s Frankfurt Motor Show saw Mercedes-Benz unveil 18 alternative-fuel vehicles, 17 of which are scheduled to enter production by 2010 and half of these are headed to the States. The first cars to arrive will be the hybrid ML450 and S400 in 2009, with the latter expected to be the first production model with lithium-ion batteries. The confirmation comes from Mercedes sales and marketing exec Klaus Maier, who spoke recently with Automotive News.

Next year will see the introduction of clean-diesel versions of the GL and ML SUVs as well as the R-Class MPV. Mercedes’ Smart brand will also get its own alternative-power models, including an all-electric version of the ForTwo minicar. Trial runs of the car are about to start in the U.K. and could be followed by a U.S. trial, according to the CEO of Penske Automotive Group, Roger Penske.