January 1886 Carl Benz registers his three-wheeled motor car for patent in Berlin. Since then, this day has been considered the official birthday of the automobile, which celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2011. Parallel to Benz, Gottlieb Daimler develops the first four-wheeled automobile. The founding fathers of today's
Daimler AG and its globally successful core brand Mercedes-Benz independently laid the foundation for all of today's passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Since then, the inventor of the automobile has shaped its development in more versatile and lasting ways than any other vehicle manufacturer – in all relevant areas, from drive technology to comfort and safety to design.
Innovation has always been the key to success for automakers and will become even more important in the future. Without the courage to come up with new ideas there would be no automobile, and without innovative strength there would be no progress. As the inventor of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz is sustainably driving its development forward. This is how the company underpins its claim to technological leadership with over 80.000 patent applications again and again since Carl Benz presented the "Patent Motor Car" in 1886 and Gottlieb Daimler the "Motor Carriage" in the same year. As the world's first automobile, the Benz Patent Motor Car is proof of pioneering spirit par excellence. In its time, the filigree tricycle made it clear at first glance that a new era of mobility has begun. Daimler's motor carriage was the first automobile with four wheels.
These two vehicles are the germ cells of a unique success story, which Mercedes-Benz has continuously enriched with ever new chapters. Time and again, it was the pioneering inventions of the Stuttgart-based automaker that made the "carriage without horses," initially considered "unsustainable" by critics, not only a symbol of individual freedom, but also a significant economic factor. The company's most important innovations – in addition to the first bus and the first truck – include above all the first modern passenger car, the Mercedes 35 HP of 1900/1901.
Mercedes 35 hp: archetype of all modern passenger cars
The Mercedes 35 hp, the archetype of all modern passenger cars, defines at the turn of the century a then fundamentally new and since then current vehicle architecture: it marks the change from the high-legged "motor carriages" to the automobile as we know it today. The decisive technical features are the long wheelbase, the wide track, the low center of gravity and the inclined steering column. All these features combine to create a comfortable and safe driving experience, realized for the first time in a Mercedes.
In addition, there are characteristic features such as the elongated shape and the honeycomb radiator organically integrated into the front, which finally solves the hitherto omnipresent problem of engine cooling and, moreover, becomes a brand-typical identification mark. The powerful four-cylinder engine, with its light alloy crankcase, provides a model for lightweight construction measures that are still current today, and is also built deep into the frame. Its exhaust valves are controlled by a camshaft, which significantly improves smoothness, idling stability and acceleration performance. The construction principle "engine in front, final drive on the rear wheels" prevails in the long term as the so-called standard drive system. The "35 hp" is the first vehicle to bear the brand name Mercedes. Goes down in history as the first modern automobile. Many other manufacturers are adopting this innovative concept, which is proving superior in every way. Mercedes-Benz thus establishes its claim to technological and conceptual leadership at an early stage.
Innovativeness: Impetus for automotive development
Thanks to its conceptual creativity, Mercedes-Benz succeeds in constantly giving new impetus to automotive progress, reinventing individual mobility time and again and opening up new areas of application in the process. Its innovative strength has made Mercedes-Benz a car manufacturer whose diverse range of products is unique. Today, the brand with the three-pointed star alone covers a range of vehicles from compact passenger cars like the A-Class to luxury sedans such as the
S-Class, vans such as the Sprinter and buses such as the Citaro, and heavy-duty trucks like the Actros. The smart brand adds a city car to its product portfolio that many consider the perfect city car. Today's smart fortwo has its origins in the Mercedes-Benz NAFA ("local transport vehicle") concept car presented in the early 1980s. The two-seater concept car was the starting point for a two-pronged development that gave rise to the company's first compact cars in the 1990s: the A-Class and the smart city coupé, the predecessor of today's smart fortwo. Again and again, Mercedes-Benz has defined new concepts of individual mobility. At the same time, it has also opened up completely new market segments: for example, the SLK launched in 1996 was the first compact premium roadster. The following year saw the launch of the M-Class, the first premium SUV, in the development of which Mercedes engineers were able to draw on the all-wheel-drive experience gained with the legendary G-Class and the Unimog. The most recent example is the CLS, which established the four-door coupe segment in 2004. In addition, the large number of technical innovations that first appeared on the market in Mercedes models proves that the inventor of the automobile significantly advanced its further development in all essential respects – from drive systems to safety and comfort to design.
Mercedes-Benz drives: Driving force in all areas
Pioneering work Mercedes-Benz has been doing for 125 years in the field of vehicle drives. The fast-running gasoline engine was literally the "driving force" in the invention of the automobile. Already in 1898 the Daimler 8 hp "Phaeton", the first road vehicle with a four-cylinder engine, was launched. In 1923 Benz presents the first truck with a diesel engine. Another pioneering Mercedes development is the diesel engine suitable for passenger cars, introduced in 1936: in the world's first series-produced diesel passenger car, the Mercedes-Benz 260 D.
Mercedes-Benz subsequently sets further milestones in compression-ignition development. Numerous technology innovations, such as the common rail diesel (CDI) with turbocharging, allow for more power and torque with less consumption and reduced pollutant emissions. Today, the brand with the three-pointed star offers models in all segments with smooth-running, high-torque and highly efficient CDI engines that – relative to their output – consume up to ten times less fuel than the diesel pioneer of 1936.
Bluetec: Diesel as clean as modern gasoline engines
With BlueTEC, Mercedes-Benz has also developed a technology for effectively reducing diesel emissions, especially nitrogen oxides. Up to 90 percent of the NOX in the exhaust gas is reduced to harmless nitrogen and water, making the diesel engine as clean as modern gasoline engines. Passenger cars with BlueTEC are offered by Mercedes-Benz since 2006, meanwhile in the E- and S-Class as well as in the SUVs GL-, R- and M-Class.
Bluetec was originally developed for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, first used in a Mercedes truck in 2005, and then adapted for use in
Passenger cars adapted. This is an example of one of the company's particular strengths: internal, cross-divisional technology transfer, which helps ensure that innovations with high benefits for customers can be implemented consistently and quickly across the entire product range.
Modern Mercedes-Benz engines with great future potential
Mercedes-Benz underscores the future potential of the internal combustion engine with the new S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, the first 5-liter car in the luxury class, introduced in 2010. The first four-cylinder engine in the more than 60-year success story of the
S-Class – a highly efficient, twin-turbocharged turbodiesel – achieves fuel economy of just 5.7 liters per 100 kilometers on the NEDC cycle. With CO2 emissions of 149 g/km, the S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is the first vehicle in its class to fall below the 150-gram mark.
From the first supercharged engine to the modern direct-injection gasoline engine
The inventor of the automobile also played a major role in the development of the gasoline engine. Already in the early 1920s, the then Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft adapted the mechanical supercharging of the internal combustion engine, originally developed for aircraft engines, for use in automobiles. The Mercedes 6/25 hp and 10/40 hp models offer more power and higher efficiency than comparable vehicles without supercharging thanks to supercharger technology.
In the sports car legend 300 SL from 1954 Mercedes-Benz uses the first four-stroke gasoline direct injection engine in series production. What at the time served primarily to increase performance, Mercedes engineers now use together with other measures to increase efficiency, i.E.: for a significant reduction in consumption with a simultaneous increase in performance.
The Mercedes-Benz strategy for today's and tomorrow's internal combustion engines is: integrated direct injection for gasoline and diesel, downsizing, turbocharging, variable valve trains. With the introduction of the new 4-cylinder turbo gasoline direct injection engines in the E-Class in the fall of 2009, Mercedes-Benz began to implement this concept – from the 4-cylinder to the 8-cylinder and in all relevant model series. The result: high performance with low fuel consumption. Correspondingly low CO2 emissions.
Bluedirect: Gasoline engines as economical as diesels
Efficiency at the highest level is the common feature of a generation of engines with six and eight cylinders, which were introduced in 2010 in the S-Class, the CL-Class and the new CLS. Power and torque increased in all engines compared with their predecessors, while fuel consumption – for example in the new CLS – was reduced by up to 25 percent. In terms of fuel economy, the modern BlueDIRECT gasoline direct injection engines from Mercedes-Benz are thus once again moving a step closer to the diesel engine. Targeted BlueEFFICIENCY measures contribute to the increase in efficiency, in particular
Already standard ECO start-stop function, which Mercedes-Benz will offer across its entire product portfolio in more than 50 models by mid-2011.
Pioneer in alternative drive technologies
In the field of alternative drive systems, Mercedes-Benz also set the tone at an early stage. As early as 1906, Mercedes first equipped passenger cars, trucks, buses and fire engines with battery-electric drive or
Hybrid drive off. In the 1970s, the development of electric and hybrid drive is resumed and intensively pursued. On the basis of this unique wealth of experience, Mercedes-Benz has created modern vehicles with alternative drive systems that point the way to ultimately zero-emission mobility.
This includes the S 400 HYBRID luxury sedan launched in 2009, the first hybrid passenger car from a European manufacturer and also the first production hybrid with state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery technology. Shortly afterwards, Mercedes-Benz put three modern electric cars on the road in quick succession: the A-Class E-CELL and the Vito E-CELL van with battery-electric drive, as well as the B-Class
F-CELL with fuel cell. The company's electric car portfolio is complemented by the smart fortwo electric drive, which is regarded as a pioneer of new urban mobility without local emissions.
Safety: A piece of Mercedes rides in every modern automobile
There is no manufacturer in the world that invests more in the development of automotive safety systems than Mercedes-Benz. For seven decades, Mercedes safety experts have been systematically working on researching the causes of accidents, reducing the consequences of accidents and preventing accidents from happening. The comprehensive commitment of Mercedes can be seen in three anniversaries in 2009: "70 years of safety development", "50 years of rigid passenger cell design" and "40 years of accident research".
In the area of passive safety, the focus is on providing the best possible protection for vehicle occupants in the event of an accident. An example of this is the rigid passenger cell with crumple zones, which was patented by Mercedes-Benz in 1951 and first introduced in series production in 1959 in the "tail fin models" 220 S and 220 SE. The airbag is another example of innovations that Mercedes-Benz brought into series production as the first practical solution. Today, they are a matter of course for every motorist. That's why you can say: In every modern automobile there is a piece of Mercedes-Benz.
Mitigate the consequences of accidents – avoid accidents altogether
On the way to accident-free driving, the focus is on active safety. To this end, Mercedes-Benz has developed innovations that can mitigate the severity of accidents or prevent them from happening in the first place. Electronically controlled ABS and ESP® are Mercedes developments that have demonstrably contributed to a significant reduction in the frequency of accidents. Today, these safety systems are also standard at almost all manufacturers. The ABS anti-lock braking system was introduced in 1978 in the
S-Class of the 116 series introduced, the airbag in 1981 in the S-K lasse of the 126 series. S-Class coupé of the 140 series launched on the market. Then successively introduced in all model series.
Mercedes-Benz was the first automaker in the world to network active and passive safety features with this system, thus further increasing protection for vehicle occupants. With PRE-SAFE®, another new chapter in safety history was opened in 2002. When it comes to safety developments, Mercedes-Benz is consistently oriented towards real accidents. Based on the findings of the company's own accident research. Innovative systems such as Active Lane Change Assist or ATTENTION ASSIST specifically reduce typical causes of accidents such as lane changes and overtiredness.
Selected milestones in Mercedes-Benz safety development
1939 – Start of passenger car safety development
1959 – First safety body in the world
1969 – Foundation of Mercedes-Benz Accident Research
1978 – Electronically controlled anti-lock braking system (ABS)
1981 – Pyrotechnic airbag, seat belt tensioners
1989 – Automatically extending roll bar in the event of a rollover
1995 – Electronic Stability Program ESP®
1996 – Brake assist system (BAS)
1998 – DISTRONIC proximity control system
1999 – Active Body Control (ABC) active suspension, tire pressure control
2002 – PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system
2003 – Active bend lighting
2005 – DISTRONIC PLUS, Brake Assist Plus (BAS PLUS), Night View Assist
2006 – PRE-SAFE® brake, Intelligent Light System (ILS)
2009 – Speed Limit Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system
2010 – Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist;
LED high-performance headlamps
Ride comfort: A classic Mercedes-Benz domain
A classic Mercedes domain is ride comfort. Wide track, long wheelbase and tailor-made suspension systems – this is the basis on which Mercedes-Benz has been providing the long-distance driving comfort typical of the brand for more than a century. As early as 1931, Mercedes-Benz set an important milestone in chassis technology with the Type 170: for the first time, all four wheels of a mass-produced passenger car were individually suspended ("swing axles"). This design provides a completely new driving experience, filtering road irregularities much better and increasing ride comfort.
Mercedes-Benz continues to lead the way with pioneering designs: 1954 sees the introduction of the single-joint swing axle, followed by the diagonal swing axle in 1968. Both designs combine improved driving safety with further enhanced ride comfort. And as early as 1961, the first air suspension in the 300 SE luxury sedan set new standards. At the end of 1982, the space-steer rear axle is a technical sensation in the new compact class. Optimum movement of the individually suspended rear wheels is achieved by five control arms each arranged in space. The space-steering rear axle later finds its way into all Mercedes-Benz sedans, coupés, cabriolets and sports cars with rear-wheel drive and is a model for many other manufacturers.
AIRMATIC: Air suspension for even more driving culture
1998 – Another technological milestone debuts in the S-Class: Instead of the classic suspension and damping system with coil springs and gas-pressure dampers, the electronically controlled AIRMATIC (Adaptive Intelligent Ride-control Automatic) with air suspension and Adaptive Damping System ADS is used. Automatic level control, working individually for each wheel, is also part of AIRMATIC. It takes into account road conditions, driving style and load and ensures excellent ride comfort.
Among the most important innovations of the recent past is the world's first actively controlled suspension system, Active Body Control (ABC), which Mercedes-Benz introduced in the C112 research vehicle in 1991 and rolled out in the CL Coupé in 1999. The actively controllable system reduces body vibrations caused by lifting and rolling movements when cornering or when braking due to body pitching. 2007 sees the debut of the ADVANCED AGILITY package in the new C-Class. It offers a choice of two shift programs: Sport and Comfort. Within these switching programs, there is continuously variable electronic control of the shock absorbers for each wheel.
PRE-SCAN: "Flying carpet" on four wheels
Also in 2007, Mercedes-Benz introduces the revolutionary PRE-SCAN chassis in the F 700 research vehicle. The system can anticipate road conditions, be highly sensitive to bumps and compensate for them even more effectively. The F 700 thus (almost) reaches the comfort level of the proverbial "flying carpet". The PRE-SCAN chassis uses two laser sensors in the front headlamp units as its "eyes.
With the MAGIC BODY CONTROL chassis presented in fall 2010, Mercedes-Benz presents an advanced system that literally looks ahead: A highly sensitive stereo camera – mounted on the windshield above the interior mirror – "observes" the road ahead of the vehicle from two different perspectives. As a result, road irregularities can be detected in even greater detail. Fast on-board computers process all data in real time and control the active ABC chassis, in which the force at each wheel can be regulated separately. In this way, body movements can be largely compensated for in comparison with today's series production chassis.
Ease of use: Intelligent systems promote condition safety
The principle of controlling a vehicle as simply and intuitively as possible goes back to the brand's earliest days. As early as 1902, the new
Mercedes models the progress achieved in terms of easier operation under the model name "Mercedes Simplex" expressed. Because the highest comfort for Mercedes-Benz means much more than comfort and high-quality equipment. In fact, all comfort solutions aim to promote the driver's performance and to relieve him comprehensively through a multitude of carefully coordinated individual measures. Operating comfort, ergonomics, air conditioning, noise comfort, driving characteristics and many other factors influence the driver's condition and thus also his ability to keep an eye on the traffic situation. Because: Only a relaxed driver is also a safe driver. Mercedes-Benz has been researching this complex issue for many years under the heading of "condition safety". Consistently uses the results to optimize its production vehicles. Result: Mercedes drivers demonstrably stay fit and concentrated longer. Examples of progress in this field are the carefully structured, intuitive operating and display concepts and the intelligent driver assistance systems, which make the car a thinking partner for the driver at the wheel.
Design: Form language as a bridge between tradition and modernity
Mercedes-Benz design develops in the area of tension between a sense of tradition and a focus on the future. The aesthetic design of the automobile is significantly influenced by the "Blitzen-Benz" presented in 1909, as the innovative design language of the racing and record-breaking car follows aerodynamic findings for the first time and at the same time radiates high dynamics.
While masculine, powerfully sculpted lines characterize the Mercedes-Benz models of the 1920s, from the early 1930s onwards the design gradually shifted to softer, flowing lines and rounded form elements. Highlights of this development are the type 500 K from 1934 and its externally largely identical successor 540 K introduced in 1936. With their tailored shapes and elegant, flowing lines, they are regarded as objects of perfect beauty.
1953: The dawn of modern automotive design
In 1953, Mercedes-Benz takes a step into the modern era with the Type 180. The saloon is characterized by the so-called three-box design – the third "box" after the front end and the passenger compartment is the trunk. The self-supporting "Ponton" body not only impresses with its greater stability and improved accident safety, it also looks much more modern. And compared to the classic shape with flared fenders, freestanding headlights, running boards and short rear overhang, the "Ponton" models also offer practical advantages: a larger interior, better visibility, a lower drag coefficient, lower wind noise and a much larger trunk space.
Many outstanding Mercedes-Benz models have had a lasting influence on the design development of the automobile. Often referred to as a design icon, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL "Gullwing" embodies race and class like no other car of its time. It remains a highly sought-after dream car to this day, and in 1999 was voted "Sports Car of the Century" by an international jury of automotive experts. The 300 SL was the first Mercedes-Benz road car to feature a horizontal air intake with the star in the center. This new front end characterizes all subsequent SL touring sports cars.
The 220, 220 S and 220 SE sedans, introduced in 1959 and popularly known as "tail fins," also set standards with their inimitable shape that combines function and elegance: The tail fins, which are both beautiful and helpful when parking, officially known as fins, and the lush all-round visibility anticipate changing customer expectations at an early stage.
Proven styling elements combined with new ideas
As a type-specific expression of unmistakable brand identity, current Mercedes-Benz vehicles often cite stylistic details from the brand's past. These include, for example, the hip sweep of today's E-Class family, which was already present in the pontoon vehicles of the 1950s. Or the fins and side vents of the SL, whose basic shape also dates from the 1950s. However, these classic elements are always interpreted in a new and contemporary way; Mercedes-Benz thus consistently avoids fashionable retro trends that tend to be short-lived. The Mercedes-Benz designers rather emphasize the origin of the car models from a house rich in tradition by combining proven stylistic elements of the brand with new ideas and thus continuously developing the design further.
Mercedes-Benz maintains a long-term design strategy. It ensures that a Mercedes is always recognizable as a Mercedes. At the same time, the Mercedes designers paid attention to a differentiated design language: they combined elements that make a vehicle recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz at first glance with their own, series-typical expression of the design philosophy in order to give each vehicle its own unique character. This is how the SUV models are clearly distinguished from the sedans, coupés or sports cars. The result is an attractive combination of individual appearance and unmistakable brand identity. The Mercedes-Benz design idiom remains alive in every detail – modern, but not fashionable. This principle also applies to interior design. Consistently implemented at Mercedes-Benz. Depending on the character of the vehicle, materials,
Shapes and styling elements developed and executed specifically for each model series and type – individuality and harmonious overall effect also take clear precedence here over overarching uniformity. Increasingly important for design work
Today more than ever, interior design helps keep the fascination of beauty alive for years to come. The interior of a car is understood as a living space in which the owner spends a lot of time.
Mercedes-Benz brand-typical design idiom – reinterpreted
A glimpse of the future design language of Mercedes-Benz is provided by the F800 Style research vehicle, which is a technology carrier and design statement in one. Its exterior appearance is characterized by the long wheelbase, the short body overhangs and the sensually flowing roof line. The excitingly pronounced coupé-like side view and the balanced proportions ensure a stylish, sporty appearance that further develops the Mercedes-Benz design idiom.
Room for creative thinking
Creativity has been a top priority for the inventor of the automobile for 125 years. German engineering skills and Swabian "tinkering talent" have created a brand icon of world renown. The company promotes creativity by creating space for free thinking and working. This ensures that the source of innovative strength never runs dry.
To maintain its innovative edge, the company has established a global knowledge network in which research and development employees contribute their expertise from a wide range of disciplines. Last year, the company was thus once again the premium automaker with the most first-time patent applications. More than half of the 2.070 new developments registered were for "green" technologies, 720 of which were in the powertrain sector alone (35 percent). Major progress has been made above all in energy efficiency, exhaust gas aftertreatment, fuel cell technology and battery technology. By continuing to invest heavily in research and development, the company is creating the conditions to further expand its high level of innovation in the long term.
Mercedes-Benz: The world's most valuable luxury brand
Thanks to its consistent innovation strategy, Mercedes-Benz occupies a top position in the ranking of the world's most valuable brands. This is confirmed by current international studies from this year, which underpin the exceptional position of the brand with the three-pointed star threefold: As the "most valuable German brand," as the "most valuable premium automotive brand in the world" and as the generally "most valuable luxury brand in the world.". Carl Benz coined the phrase: "The love of invention never ends".". Gottlieb Daimler formulated his famous maxim: "The best or nothing"." And Gottlieb Daimler formulated his famous maxim "The best or nothing". Mercedes-Benz has been following these guiding principles for almost 125 years now. As one of the most important driving forces, the spirit of innovation is firmly anchored in our corporate culture – always with the aim of safeguarding individual mobility for future generations and offering customers the optimum vehicle for their personal needs in each case. The basis for this innovative strength was Mercedes-Benz's systematic research work, which resulted in the official establishment of a separate research division at the beginning of the 1970s. Today, Mercedes-Benz can rely on a global knowledge network with around 19.The North Coast 500 is an interdisciplinary think tank, full of pioneering spirit, expertise and motivation to continue building the best cars in the world.