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Mercedes-Benz TecDay Innovations: “Room for free and creative thinking”
With more than 80,000 patent applications in the space of around 125 years, Mercedes-Benz has defined automotive progress more broadly and sustainably than any other vehicle maker. Dedicated processes ensure that many of these ideas are turned into reality at Daimler and Mercedes-Benz. In 2009, too, the company made more initial patent submissions than any other premium manufacturer. More than half of them fall under the heading of “green” technologies, primarily related to driveline. In terms of safety, Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce its radar-controlled Brake Assist BAS in the new B-Class – one example of our consistent cascading of high-tech.
“The passion for inventing never ends,” was the guiding principle of Carl Benz. His conviction that it is always possible to make something good even better is fundamental to the work carried out by Mercedes-Benz to this day. The power of innovation was and is one of the most important elements driving the company, which has managed to submit more than 80,000 patent applications over the course of almost 125 years. Among those are many that have been decisive in the ongoing development of the automobile.
“New ideas are the product of the human mind. And Mercedes-Benz has always been home to highly creative and motivated people,” notes Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “As a company, we encourage them by giving them room for free and creative thinking and working. And, where expedient, we support them with the necessary systems and processes. In so doing, we ensure that the source of our innovative power never diminishes.”
In order to protect its assertion of innovative leadership, the company has established a global knowledge network, which sees around 19,000 individuals from the Research and Development function contribute their knowledge and expertise from a wide range of disciplines. The company is represented around the world where there are centers of competence in relevant fields of expertise – with highly qualified researchers and the associated scientific community. In 1995, for instance, Mercedes-Benz was the first vehicle manufacturer to open an office in Silicon Valley.
Further local development centers are located close to key production facilities, such as those in Germany and the USA. There are also research offices like those in Ulm, Berlin, Palo Alto (California), Bangalore (India) and Beijing (China). Alongside the “classic” automotive professions like engineer or designer, this network also includes physicists and other scientists, as well as psychologists and sociologists. All these technicians, analysts, researchers and lateral thinkers work hand-in-hand in this interdisciplinary think tank.
More than 2,000 new patent applications in 2009 alone
Last year, the company was once again the premium manufacturer with the most patent applications. More than half of the overall total of 2,070 new developments submitted are related to “green” technologies, with 720 of them apportioned to driveline alone (35 percent). Significant progress was made particularly in the fields of energy efficiency, exhaust gas after-treatment, fuel cell and battery technology. The equally high number of initial patent submissions made in the area of production technology and new materials underscores the leading position held by Mercedes-Benz in “green” technologies. 14 percent of all new developments are attributable to lightweight materials and production processes, e.g. CFC, and to environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
With extensive investments ongoing in Research and Development, the company is laying the groundwork to ensure that the already high level of innovation is not only maintained over the long term, but expanded.
Mercedes-Benz continues to demonstrate its traditionally outstanding expertise in the fields of safety and comfort with a host of innovations, including pedestrian protection and PRE-SAFE® systems, with Mercedes-Benz vehicles in all market segments benefiting from these developments. The planned introduction of the radar-controlled Brake Assist BAS in the new B-Class is just one example of our consistent cascade approach to high-tech. For models in the luxury-class segments, the camera-based MAGIC BODY CONTROL system is a further innovation in the field of chassis technology that will soon be ready for series production and will celebrate its premiere in the next S-Class.
Intelligent innovation management ensures maximum customer benefit
In order that as many ideas as possible are actually implemented as quickly as possible to the benefit of the customer, Mercedes-Benz has established a process of innovation management which combines creativity and customer benefit. Future research and technology monitoring ensure that new solutions anticipate changing conditions and future customer desires. Customer research such as monitoring product acceptance at the Customer Research Center (CRC) guarantee that customer feedback and innovative ideas are fed into the development of new Mercedes-Benz automobiles from the very beginning.
Driving simulators – the perfect complement to real-life testing
The next phase in the development and testing of vehicles will see the application of a wide range of simulators. With the assistance of “digital prototypes” of a vehicle created by very powerful computers it is now possible, for example, to conduct fully integrated testing of a new model in a wide range of driving situations before an actual vehicle has been built.
Just a few weeks ago, Mercedes-Benz opened the world’s most advanced driving simulator in Sindelfingen. With its 360° screen, high-speed electric operation and twelve-meter rails for longitudinal and lateral movement, it is the most powerful moving simulator in the automotive industry. This is in addition to the intensive practical testing conducted over many millions of kilometers that will remain an indispensible element of the development process.
“The best or nothing” is always the objective at Mercedes-Benz – and, when it comes to innovation, rapid implementation stands shoulder-to-shoulder with high quality and real customer benefits.
Dr. Thomas Weber: “The aim of our work is more rapid technology transfer into series production. To this end, we conduct results-oriented, not knowledge-driven, research. The priority is concrete benefits for the customer, not quantity. Focusing at an early stage on significant innovations facilitates acceleration of the innovation process. The real challenge in this is to bring the right innovations to market at the right time. You see, today more than ever, innovation is the key to success.”
The Mercedes-Benz development strategy
Innovation: The Key to Success
Innovation has always been the key to success for automakers, and it will be even more important in the future. Without the courage to launch new ideas there would not be any automobiles, and without a capacity for innovation there would be no progress. Mercedes-Benz is the inventor of the automobile, and it continues to be the driving force behind its development. The company confirms its claim for technological leadership again and again by registering more than 80,000 patents since Carl Benz presented the “Patent Motor Car” in 1886 and Gottlieb Daimler presented the “motorized carriage” in the same year. The focus of the company´s holistic commitment is the technological refinement of the automobile, and here Mercedes-Benz is setting the standards in all the relevant areas, from design and comfort to safety and drive systems. The pioneering developments from Mercedes, which in many cases benefit not only our customers but also those of other brands — ABS and the Electronic Stability Program ESP® are examples — are the result of a consistent innovation strategy that our highly motivated employees put into practice every day and implement with the help of state-of-the-art development methods.
Smart solutions for new mobility requirements
The world is changing at a rapid pace — and so are the overall requirements for automobiles. Among the most important influencing factors are the new mobility requirements people have in times of ongoing urbanization. In order to offer the right answers to challenges such as the current and future mobility needs in megacities and conurbations, the company is also forging ahead with the development of smart mobility concepts for metropolitan regions. Exemplary for that are the successful car-sharing concept “car2go” as well as an especially customer-friendly web-based ride-sharing service called “ car2gether.” Both of these initiatives aim to make individual mobility in metropolitan areas flexible, environmentally compatible, and affordable, and thus to safeguard it over the long term.
“The best or nothing” — in the past, present, and future
Carl Benz once said, “The passion for invention never ends.” And Gottlieb Daimler phrased the famous maxim “The best or nothing.” Mercedes-Benz has been pursuing these objectives for almost 125 years. The spirit of innovation is one of the most important driving forces, and it is firmly embedded in our corporate culture — always with the objective of safeguarding individual mobility in the long term and offering every customer the vehicle that optimally fulfills his or her personal requirements. The foundation of this capacity for innovation is the systematic research work done at Mercedes-Benz, which resulted in the official establishment of an own research unit in the early 1970s. Today Mercedes-Benz can rely on a global knowledge network consisting of approximately 19,000 researchers and developers all over the world. It is an interdisciplinary think tank full of pioneering spirit, expertise, and the ambition to continue in the future to build the best automobiles in the world.
From the vehicle to the mobility concept
Stocking Up on Ideas: New Ideas for the Mobility of Today and Tomorrow
What will the cars of tomorrow look like? And how will people’s mobility requirements develop in the future? The development experts at Daimler and Mercedes-Benz find answers to basic questions like these with the help of such activities as market research and customer feedback, technology monitoring, and futurology research. The company can look back on a long tradition of such activities. For over 30 years, interdisciplinary and international research teams have been working to anticipate long-term trends and social developments and to apply their conclusions to the area of mobility. This future-oriented way of working — which involves stocking up on ideas — generates new solutions that anticipate changing conditions and new customer requirements rather than merely reacting to them.
One of these innovations is the NAFA two-seater concept car (“NAFA” is the German acronym for “ short-distance vehicle”), which Mercedes-Benz developed in the 1980s. Even then, the company was taking into account the trend of urbanization, which is proceeding at an ever faster pace today all over the world. The concept behind the NAFA was the starting point of a parallel development that resulted in two successful series-produced models in the 1990s: the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as the founder of the segment of compact premium vehicles, and the smart, the pioneer of intelligent urban mobility. Both cars — as well as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class — were designed for alternative drive systems from the very start, and today they are pioneers of electric mobility with zero local emissions: as smart fortwo electric drive and Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL with battery electric drive and as Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL with electric drive using fuel cell technology. These vehicles are being used for purposes including “e-mobility” projects, for instance in Berlin and Italy (the smart fortwo electric drive and the A-Class E-CELL), and are thus helping to pave the way toward mobility with zero local emissions.
Customer Research Center with Innovation Workshop
An Idea Factory for the Cars of Tomorrow
The Customer Research Center (CRC) provides the foundation that enables Mercedes-Benz to turn automotive dreams into reality. The three focal points of the work done at the CRC are (1) systematic customer research designed to determine customer requirements, (2) the generation of ideas in the Innovation Workshop, and (3) the monitoring of product acceptance. This approach makes it possible to ensure that the wishes of the customer and innovative ideas are included in the development of new Mercedes-Benz automobiles in a targeted manner — right from the start.
Basically, it is all about asking the right questions and discussing possible answers with the customers in as detailed a manner as possible. Combined with market research findings and studies of trends and the overall environment, this results in a set of coordinates for interesting market segments. After that, the CRC experts generate and test the appropriate possibilities for products and solutions.
The Mercedes-Benz Customer Research Center is unique in the global automo-tive industry because it conducts psychology-focused customer research in a seamless manner and with a holistic approach. Mercedes-Benz thus has at its disposal a one-of-a-kind interconnected laboratory landscape, one that incorpo-rates all the aspects that people perceive and can form an opinion about. This laboratory network includes everything from a tactile lab to laboratories for acoustics, light, and long-distance driving trials. Given its complexity, this topic is viewed both holistically and from an intercultural perspective.
The intercultural approach ensures that regional customer requirements, which in some cases are very different, are taken into account. In the past, the focus was primarily on countries like Germany and the U.S. — our traditional core markets — as well as Russia and the UK. In the future, we will be looking just as closely at growth markets such as China, India, Brazil, and the Middle East.
In line with vehicle development cycles, the CRC employees look at customer requirements far in advance, taking into account the aspects that will be important in five, seven, or ten years. This process combines qualitative methods such as discussions and interviews with quantitative techniques that include in-depth real-life analysis. For these long-term tests, customers are given a vehicle to drive for up to one week. They can contact us at any time via a call center in order to report their real-life experiences with the car.
The Innovation Workshop is an “idea generator”
The Innovation Workshop is a separate unit within the CRC that is responsible for generating new ideas. Between 60 and 80 workshops attended by about 1,500 participants take place here every year, with the goal of finding new initial ideas and working on new products. The most important factor for assessing an idea is customer acceptance, which is therefore examined in great detail.
To this end, the unit has developed a four-stage model that simulates the process by which acceptance gradually begins to grow. Starting with the first stage of acceptance, which is based on hearsay, this process chain then extends to (2) “look-listen-and-feel” — in the showroom, for example. It then moves on to (3) “drive-and-feel” during a test drive and culminates in the most important stage — (4) acceptance over a long period of actual use. This process should end with the customers concluding that they have made the right decision and would make it again the next time around. This stage of acceptance is typical of Mercedes-Benz customers — and that can be empirically proved.
Driving Simulation Center
Digital Prototypes on Digital Roads
The new Mercedes-Benz Driving Simulation Center brings together the world’s most advanced facilities of their kind. Over a period of five years, Mercedes-Benz is investing €160 million in the infrastructure, the driving simulator, and the climate and wind tunnels. This will result in direct benefits for the customers of the brand.
Using digital prototypes created with powerful computers, a new model can be thoroughly tested in many driving situations at a very early stage of development. These digital representations of the vehicle in question can be taken for virtual drives at an early stage of series development and thus comprehensively evaluated before the vehicle is actually produced. This process enables real-life prototypes to reach technological maturity more quickly so that they can undergo even more in-depth testing. The best development results are therefore achieved by intelligently linking state-of-the-art simulation methods with extensive real-life testing over millions of kilometers, which will remain an indispensable part of the development process. So simulation and simulators are not considered substitutes for real tests; instead, they are regarded as the best possible supplement to actual testing.
Another key advantage of the Driving Simulation Center is that all the simulators are under one roof there. This allows to use them for their specific purposes with high efficiency in terms of time and costs. Also unique in the automotive world is the fact that the Driving Simulation Center is located so close to the other research and development areas in Sindelfingen, including design. The intensive interdisciplinary sharing of knowledge contributes a lot to our ability to shorten development times while significantly boosting the maturity of our products. In the end, that means greater efficiency and even higher quality in every respect — and that is how the Driving Simulation Center makes a vital contribution to the future competitiveness of Mercedes-Benz.
Design Idiom Developing through the Interplay between Tradition and a Future-oriented Approach
At Mercedes-Benz, design develops as a result of the interplay between the brand’s consciousness of tradition and its orientation toward the future. The star brand is therefore pursuing a long-term design strategy which ensures that a Mercedes is always recognizable as a Mercedes. In the process, the designers use a distinctive design idiom in order to give each vehicle an individual sensual tone that meets the highest aesthetic standards. In all of the model series, the vehicle design reflects the brand’s basic attributes of safety, quality, performance, dynamism, and innovative strength.
The continuous development of the Mercedes design idiom is a shared mission performed by more than 450 employees in Sindelfingen and four studios in Italy, Japan, China, and the U.S. They refine the stylistic attributes and come up with new ideas to build “design bridges” into the future. As a consequence, the Mercedes-Benz design idiom remains alive in every detail — always modern, but never faddish.
Reinterpretation of the typical Mercedes-Benz brand design idiom
A glimpse of the future design idiom of Mercedes-Benz is provided by the F 800 Style research vehicle, which is both a technology platform and a design statement. The F 800 Style was created through close cooperation between the technical research and advance engineering departments and the advanced design studios in Sindelfingen and Como, Italy. Its exterior appearance is marked by a long wheelbase, short body overhangs, and a sensually flowing roof line. The exciting coupe-like roof line, and in general the vehicle’s balanced proportions, lend it a stylish sporty look that reinterprets the Mercedes-Benz design idiom.
Intelligent Systems and Solutions Improve Drivers’ Physiological Well-being
At Mercedes-Benz, maximum comfort means much more than pleasant driving and high-quality features. All of our comfort solutions are intended to improve the driver´s condition and to consistently relieve driving strain by means of many individual measures that are painstakingly coordinated with one another. Operating comfort, ergonomics, air conditioning, low noise levels, handling properties, and many other factors affect a driver’ s condition behind the wheel, and thus also his or her ability to keep an overview of the traffic situation. After all, only a relaxed driver is also a safe driver. Mercedes-Benz researchers have been investigating this complex topic, called “physiological well-being,” for many years, and Mercedes-Benz has consistently applied their findings to improve its series-production vehicles. As a result, it has been proven that Mercedes drivers stay for a longer time fit and concentrated.
Prime examples of the progress achieved in this field are the carefully designed, intuitive control and display concepts and the intelligent Driving Assistance systems, which turn the automobile into a partner that thinks along with the person behind the wheel.
DISTRONIC — looking ahead and setting the pace
One example is the DISTRONIC PLUS Traffic Jam Vehicle Follow Assist introduced in the latest Mercedes-Benz research vehicle, the F 800 Style. The success story of this system began in 1962, when Mercedes-Benz became the first European automaker to offer a mechanical speed control system. This comfort feature was subsequently enhanced so that the cruise control system could keep the vehicle at a constant speed even after the gears were shifted.
In 1998 Mercedes-Benz launched the world’s first “electronic copilot” — the DISTRONIC proximity control — on the market. A radar sensor in the radiator grille enables the system to monitor the traffic situation up to 150 meters in front of the vehicle. If the gap between the car and the vehicle up ahead decreases, the DISTRONIC proximity control automatically decelerates or operates the brakes if necessary.
Mercedes-Benz consistently enhanced this high-performance assistance system and introduced the improved version as the DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control in 2005. By combining the previous DISTRONIC radar (77 GHz) with the newly developed short-range radar (24 GHz), Mercedes was able to further extend the working range of the proximity control system and increase the speed control range from 30-180 km/h to 0-200 km/h. This has the advantage that when the traffic tails back, DISTRONIC PLUS automatically brakes the vehicle to a standstill and then accelerates the car back to the set speed as soon as the traffic situation allows.
In combination with the PRE-SAFE® brake introduced in 2006 and Brake Assist PLUS, DISTRONIC PLUS effectively helps to prevent accidents. For example, DISTRONIC PLUS automatically reduces the car’s speed when the driver approaches the rear of a traffic jam. If the driver fails to respond or reacts too slowly, the smart braking systems can prevent a rear-end collision or at least reduce the severity of the accident.
The world’s first system that allows a car to automatically follow the vehicle ahead of it even when driving along curves — the DISTRONIC PLUS Traffic Jam Vehicle Follow Assist — made its debut in the F 800 Style research vehicle in spring 2010.
This system takes over both the distance control and the steering effort at speeds up to approximately 40 km/h. Drivers can, of course, override the system at any time by turning the steering wheel. When the 40 km/h mark is exceeded, the steering torque that keeps the vehicle in its lane is gradually reduced to a point at which the system smoothly disengages.
Using Electronics and Cameras to AchieveDriving comfort is a classic Mercedes area of expertise. One of the most important innovations of recent times was the world’s first actively controlled suspension system, Active Body Control ABC, which was introduced by Mercedes-Benz in the CL coupe in 1999. The system reduces body vibrations caused by bouncing and rolling movements when cornering or pitching movements when braking. The ADVANCED AGILITY package made its debut in 2007, when it appeared first in the new C-Class. The package offers two shifting modes: Sport and Comfort. As part of these shifting programs, each wheel has its own shock absorber with an infinitely variable electronic control.
the Ideal Level of Driving Comfort
the Ideal Level of Driving Comfort
In 2007 Mercedes-Benz also unveiled the revolutionary PRE-SCAN chassis, which it presented in the F 700 research vehicle. The system can register road conditions in advance, react very sensitively to bumps and potholes, and compensate for them more effectively than other chassis. The PRE-SCAN chassis uses two laser sensors in the headlights as “eyes.”
The MAGIC BODY CONTROL chassis that Mercedes-Benz presented in fall 2010 is an advanced system that literally looks ahead — a highly sensitive stereo camera mounted on the windshield, above the rearview mirror, “observes” the road in front of the vehicle from two different perspectives, enabling the system to recognize uneven road surfaces in even greater detail. Fast onboard computers process all of the data in real time and control the active ABC chassis, which can adjust the forces at each wheel separately. This allows the vehicle body’s movements to be largely compensated for, compared to those of today’s standard chassis.
On the Road to Accident-free Driving
For decades, Mercedes-Benz has been setting the standards for the development of new technologies for boosting active and passive safety in automobiles. All of these systems have demonstrably contributed to making road traffic safer and to considerably reducing the numbers of road users injured or killed in accidents. Mercedes-Benz defines the benchmarks in active safety technology with intelligent assistance systems that turn the vehicle into the driver’s “thinking partner.” These systems, available since 2009 in the CL-, E- and S-Class and starting this year in the new CLS-Class as well, go into operation specifically in the situations that are responsible for the most common types of accident, such as those due to lane changing, overtiredness, or restricted visibility at night.
ESF 2009: The future of automotive safety
The focus during the development of the numerous safety innovations in the Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF) 2009 was on the critical phase immediately preceding an accident. The systems presented in the ESF 2009 improve the safety potential within the extremely short period of 600 milliseconds between the recognition of an unavoidable accident and the accident itself. In this way, accidents can either be prevented or their consequences can be significantly reduced.
Selected milestones in Mercedes-Benz safety development
1939 – Start of safety development for passenger cars
1959 – Safety body
1969 – Establishment of Mercedes-Benz accident research
1978 – ABS Anti-Lock Brake System
1980 – Airbag, seat belt tensioner
1989 – Automatic rollbar
1995 – Electronic Stability Program (ESP®)
1996 – Brake Assist (BAS)
1998 – DISTRONIC
1999 – Active Body Control (ABC), tire pressure monitoring system
2002 – PRE-SAFE®
2003 – Active light function
2005 – DISTRONIC PLUS, Brake Assist PLUS, Night View Assist
2006 – PRE-SAFE® Brake, Intelligent Light System
2009 – Speed Limit Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST,
Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist
Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist
2010 – LED high-performance headlight, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist
On the Road to Zero-Emission Mobility
Today’s automobiles are caught in a situation marked by ever-increasing, more and more varied, and in some cases conflicting requirements. Customers want safe, comfortable, and powerful vehicles that are also extremely efficient and environmentally friendly. The central challenge is to make motor vehicles even more efficient and cleaner without compromising safety or comfort. In order to make possible sustainable mobility with great variety at a high level, Mercedes-Benz is consciously taking a multilane route to ever more environmentally friendly and eventually zero-emission vehicles:
– Lane one involves optimized vehicles equipped with high-tech internal combustion engines – Lane two features hybrid drives in various output ratings – Lane three comprises electric vehicles with batteries or fuel cells
– Lane one involves optimized vehicles equipped with high-tech internal combustion engines – Lane two features hybrid drives in various output ratings – Lane three comprises electric vehicles with batteries or fuel cells
Mercedes-Benz has taken the entire spectrum of innovative technologies and vehicles that enable especially clean and efficient mobility and brought them together under the name BlueEFFICIENCY. At the same time, BlueEFFICIENCY also designates an intelligent package of measures, custom-designed for each vehicle type, that exploit all of the possibilities in and on the vehicle.
These possibilities include lightweight construction and aerodynamic optimization as well as the central key to more efficiency and environmental compatibility — the electrification of the vehicle and its drive, from ancillary components to the ECO start/stop function. Mercedes-Benz is consistently rolling out BlueEFFICIENCY in all model series — from the A-Class to the S-Class — and it will be available in 85 models by the end of 2010. The new CLS is a good example; here, the combination of innovative direct injection gasoline engines (BlueDIRECT) with the standard ECO start/stop function and other BlueEFFICIENCY measures ensures that fuel consumption is up to 25 percent lower than for previous models.
Powerful lithium-ion batteries
Daimler is working with its partners on the development of state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries. This work forms the basis of made-to-measure solutions for Daimler’s unique product portfolio, which covers all mobility requirements. Daimler benefits here from the expertise it has accumulated through many years of research work. Indeed, the company has filed more than 600 patents to date for battery-powered vehicles — and more than 230 of these involve lithium-ion technology. Targeted cooperation with capable partners ensures that the battery systems optimally meet all vehicle and application-specific requirements. Daimler now has its own battery manufacturing capacity for state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries at Deutsche Accumotive. These batteries can be produced to conform to any type of hybrid or electric drive system, whether for passenger cars or commercial vehicles.
From Aluminum to Carbon Fiber-reinforced Plastics
The targeted use of lightweight engineering can help to considerably reduce the fuel consumption of automobiles. Here too, Mercedes engineers are taking a holistic approach and using all available means to make Mercedes-Benz vehicles lighter, and thus even more economical and efficient. The brand is using every opportunity to reduce the weight of all components — from engines and transmissions to the vehicle interiors and electrical systems.
Special attention is given to the automobile body, which accounts for most of a vehicle’s weight. Most body shells in the past were made of steel. However, as early as the 1970s Mercedes-Benz became one of the first automakers to use aluminum in a production vehicle — in this case the SL series. The new SLS AMG is equipped with a fully aluminum body, and thus points the way forward for future model series. Today, however, extensive use of lightweight engineering is not limited to Mercedes sports cars; it is also found in the brand’s sedans. In fact, Mercedes-Benz is now one of the biggest users of aluminum among automakers. At the same time, though, the brand intentionally avoids focusing on one specific material. Instead, it relies on a mixture of high-strength steels, light metals, and plastics.
The doors, hood, trunk lid, and fenders of the new CLS are all made of aluminum. This has led to a weight reduction of 24 kilograms just for the doors, which are also frameless. The front end of the CLS consists of an aluminum-plastic material mix.
Furthermore, Mercedes engineers are increasingly working with so-called composites — carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, known as FRP for short. Mercedes-Benz demonstrated its expertise in this field ten years ago in the form of a complete vehicle — the SLR. The carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, or CFRPs, used in this model are the premier fiber materials in the industry. With approximately 2,000 SLRs produced, Mercedes-Benz has put more vehicles with these materials on the road than any other automaker. This also shows that carbon fiber-reinforced plastics are well able to meet the stringent safety requirements for automobile bodies. The carbon fiber-reinforced plastic technology is today being used in series production throughout the Group. Carbon fiber-reinforced plastics are used in many different products, including buses, Unimogs, and AMG vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz is also working intensively on the advanced development of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic technologies, primarily with the objective of reducing its still-high costs so as to enable a broad-scale rollout of the technology. Here the company is also making use of the experience gained in the aerospace sector and successfully adapting it to its vehicles.
Daimler has established a development partnership for improving the technology with the world’s leading supplier of carbon fiber, the TORAY company of Japan. This is the right basis for beginning a new chapter in body development. Mercedes-Benz plans to begin using further CFRP components in series-production applications in 2012.