Despite the interest of late in electrified cars, the major automakers know internal combustion engines, including diesels, will continue to be the powertrain of choice for most customers around the globe for the foreseeable future. That’s why they are continuing to optimize internal combustion engines alongside hybrid and electric car development.

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One of the leaders is Mercedes-Benz which is spending close to $3 billion on next-generation diesel technology over the coming years and this week announced a new family of modular four-cylinder diesel engines said to be cleaner, more efficient and more powerful than current units. The engines are also lighter and more compact thanks to all-aluminum construction, which is rare when it comes to diesels.

The first engine in the family is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder code named the OM 654. The engine will first appear in an E-Class sedan badged the E220d and set to go on sale in Europe this spring. The engine is said to deliver around 13 percent lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions along with a further increase in output, with the latter now registering at 191 horsepower instead of the 167 hp of the 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel it replaces (peak torque is unchanged at 295 pound-feet). It also weighs in at 371 pounds versus the 447 lb of the older unit.

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As mentioned, the OM 654 is just the first in a new family of diesel engines. Importantly, the engines have been designed with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. SCR reduces harmful emissions such as nitrogen oxide (NOx) which is at the heart of the Volkswagen Group’s emissions cheating scandal.

Mercedes says the new diesel engines will eventually feature in most of its cars and vans. The units will be offered in various output ratings and variants, for both longitudinal and transverse mounting. Unfortunately, it’s not clear when any of them will be offered in the United States.