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Mercedes-Benz Adds HD Radio As Option

— Mercedes-Benz will offer HD Radio for the first time in the fall when three new diesel SUVs offer the technology as an option.

The vehicles are the R320, ML320 and GL320, which also get Sirius Satellite Radio as an option. Pricing was not available.

Among luxury automakers offering HD Radio, Mercedes joins BMW, which offers HD Radio as an option across its entire product line, and Jaguar, which offers it in its redesigned 2008 luxury XJ sedan, the HD Radio Alliance said.

The three Mercedes vehicles will offer an optional voice-control system, an optional Harman Kardon Logic7 surround-sound system and an optional rear-seat entertainment system. The vehicles come with an integrated Bluetooth hands-free system, an aux-in connection for MP3 players and an optional battery-charging Media Interface, said to connect an external music source to the vehicles’ onboard electronics. That enables music track names to be displayed on the instrument cluster and on the center-consol color display, and it enables songs to be accessed via steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Interface also charges the portable device’s battery. Additional details were unavailable.

Other automakers offering or planning to offer HD Radio include:

• Volvo, which will add HD Radio in the 2009 model year to almost every trim level as standard equipment, with the remaining models getting it as a factory-installed option. The vehicles will be available in September 2008;

• Ford, which began late last year to offer an add-on HD-Radio tuner module as a dealer-installed option for 19 of 23 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models in the 2008 model year. The add-ons are also compatible with the majority of the brands’ models in the 2005 to 2007 model years; and

Hyundai, which offers it in its 2008-model-year premium sports sedan.