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Mercedes to be petroleum-free by 2015?

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(Read caption) The F700, Mercedes hybrid concept car, is on display at the 2007 International Motor Show in Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

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The Sun reports that Mercedes-Benz is aiming to phase out fossil-fuel powered vehicles over the next seven years, replacing its entire lineup with autos powered by electric motors, fuel cells, and biofuels.

The company has already invested almost $4 million in its Sustainable Mobility program, and plans to invest another $14 million billion by 2014. Reports the Sun:

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This includes making current engines even cleaner and more fuel-efficient while increasing the amount of hybrids, emission-free electric cars and clean-fuel gas engines and the further development of battery and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Mercedes will drip-feed different forms of more eco-friendly vehicles into our showrooms as and when the technology has been developed over the next decade - but the process begins towards the end of this year.

Now there are many good reasons to be skeptical here. First off it's being reported in The Sun, a paper better known for sensationalism than for anything else. Second, while $14 million [note: see update below is certainly a lot of money, it's probably not enough to develop an entire fleet of cars. Random example: In 1997, Ford announced that it would pony up $140 million to develop electric drivetrains. And have you driven an electric Ford lately?

But this is definitely a step in the right direction. After all, it was Karl Benz who in 1879 was granted a patent for the first gasoline-powered engine. So the company is partly responsible for getting all of us into this mess, it's nice to see that they're thinking of a way to get us out of it.

[Via EcoGeek via AutoblogGreen]

[Update: As the commenter, Adam, pointed out, I got my millions and billions confused. The company will be investing 7 billion pounds sterling, or roughly $14 billion by 2014.]