Sindelfingen. In the presence of the Minister President of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, Mercedes-Benz today crashed an E-Class Saloon to mark the opening of what the company describes as the world's ultimate state-of-the-art crash test centre, built at its site in Sindelfingen. The new Vehicle Safety Technology Centre (or TFS, from the German for its name), opens up totally new opportunities, for example for vehicle-vehicle tests, for work on designing assistance systems and PRE‑SAFE®, and for the validation of vehicle concepts involving alternative drive systems. The investment amounts to a three-digit million euro sum.
In his welcoming address, Minister President Kretschmann said: "The automotive industry is currently experiencing the most radical upheaval in its history. The companies are working to invent the automobile all over again. The car of the future will form part of a digitally networked mobility system and, as such, will drive autonomously and with zero emissions. But for all this, one thing will remain the same: the need of customers for safety. Daimler AG's new Vehicle Safety Technology Centre underscores the tremendous importance that the company gives to the issue of vehicle safety", added Minister President Kretschmann. "The state government here in Baden-Württemberg will continue to extend its efforts to promote automated and autonomous driving. The issue of safety will of course also play an important part in this. Our vision has to be: no more traffic fatalities!"
"In recent years we have extensively expanded the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre in Sindelfingen: following the driving simulator, wind tunnels and Powertrain Integration Centre, the Vehicle Safety Technology Centre has now been taken into operation", said Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, at the inauguration ceremony. "This once again demonstrates that the heart of the automotive industry beats in Sindelfingen. To make sure that this remains so, Mercedes-Benz has reinforced Germany's status as a high-tech location with this investment in the future, while safeguarding the company's technology and innovation leadership in the premium segment."
As Prof. Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, explained: "With its new technology centre for vehicle safety, Mercedes-Benz is once again asserting its commitment to the core brand value of 'safety', and to Germany as a location for innovation. The close integration of research, development, planning and production at the Sindelfingen site will ensure improvements in both efficiency and the speed of innovation. The generously proportioned building and extensive testing facilities we have here will ensure that Mercedes-Benz can in future continue to set the pace for the global automotive industry."
New test possibilities for the pacemaking role of Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz has always conducted more and much more demanding crash tests than prescribed by legislation or required for ratings. The numerous test facilities in the new TFS will assist Mercedes-Benz in its role as a pacemaker. Around 900 crash tests can be carried out each year, thanks to the new operating concept and the flexible system layout. There is also capacity for around 1700 sled tests per year. Mercedes-Benz continues to work to replicate the way accidents actually happen even more realistically in its crash tests and to integrate the anticipatory PRE-SAFE® occupant protection systems into its test procedures. Another objective is to mitigate the severity of accidents, or if possible avoid them completely, with the help of assistance systems.
The new building: unsupported section of the hall larger than a football field
Construction of the new Vehicle Safety Technology Centre (TFS) has involved the investment of a triple-digit million euro sum. Initial planning began more than ten years ago, with building work starting in the autumn of 2013. The topping-out ceremony was on 12 May 2015, while the first productive crash test was conducted on 30 September 2016.
At 90 metres by 90 metres, the column-free area of the crash hall is significantly larger than that of an international-standard football pitch. The longest crash-test run is over 200 m in length. More than 7000 tonnes of steel were used, while the 36,000 cubic metres of concrete used may be visualised as an approx. 40‑k ilometre long queue of concrete mixer trucks. The structural features also include temperature control using the waste heat from the adjacent climatic wind tunnels.