Mercedes has started series production of a natural gas version of the Sprinter.

Mercedes says that operating costs of the new Sprinter NGT are uup to 30% lower than a comparable diesel. These savings are guaranteed in Germany at least, thanks to a reduced tax rate on natural gas that lasts until at least 2018. In addition German energy suppliers offer subsidies to operators who purchase natural gas vehicles, and some insitutution offer cheap loans.

The Sprinter NGT meets Euro 4 emissions standards. Mercedes says that emissions of nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide have also been reduced dramatically compared with the diesel engine. CO2 savings are around 20% compared to gasoline, and the vehicle is virtually carbon neutral when powered by biogas.

Mercedes-Benz has gone for a bivalent drive on the Sprinter NGT. The basic engine, a four-cylinder unit with a displacement of 1.8 litres, will also run on petrol, extending the range up to 1200 kilometres.

The driver can switch between the fuels by pressing a button to the left of the ignition lock. An indicator lamp comes on when in natural-gas mode. A display in the cockpit also lets the driver know how much gas is left in the tank. Filling up with natural gas is also easy using the filler connection just above the filler neck for the petrol tank.