Mercedes-Benz traces its origins to Karl Benz's creation of the first petrol-powered car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, financed by Bertha Benz and patented in January 1886, and Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach's conversion of a stagecoach by the addition of a petrol engine later that year. The Mercedes automobile was first marketed in 1901 by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. The first Mercedes-Benz brand name vehicles were produced in 1926, following the merger of Karl Benz's and Gottlieb Daimler's companies into the Daimler-Benz company. Throughout the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz produced the 770 model, a car that was popular during Germany's Nazi period. Adolf Hitler was known to have driven these cars during his time in power, with bulletproof windshields. Most of the surviving models have been sold at auctions to private buyers. One of them is currently on display at the War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. Mercedes-Benz has introduced many technological and safety innovations that later became common in other vehicles. Mercedes-Benz is one of the best known and established automotive brands in the world, and is also one of the world's oldest automotive brand still in existence today in 2014, having produced the first petrol-powered car.
For information relating to the famous three-pointed star, see under the title Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft including the merger into Daimler-Benz.
Subsidiaries and alliances
As part of the Daimler AG company, the Mercedes-Benz Cars division includes Mercedes-Benz and Smart car production.
Mercedes-AMG became a majority owned division of Mercedes-Benz in 1999. The company was integrated into DaimlerChrysler in 1999, and became Mercedes-Benz AMG beginning on 1 January 1999.
Between 2003 and 2009, Mercedes-Benz produced a limited-production sports car with McLaren Cars. The resulting Mclaren Mercedes SLR was an extension of the collaboration in which Mercedes engines are used by the Team McLaren-MercedesFormula One racing team, which was then part owned by Mercedes. The partnership with McLaren ended following the decision to market McLaren road cars.
Daimler's ultra-luxury brand Maybach was under Mercedes-Benz cars division until 2013, when the production stopped due to poor sales volumes.
Besides its native Germany, Mercedes-Benz vehicles are also manufactured or assembled in:
Argentina - manufactures buses, trucks and the Sprinter van. This is the first Mercedes-Benz factory outside of Germany. Built in 1951.
Malaysia - assembly of C, E and S class vehicles by the DRB-Hicom
Mexico - (Mercedes-Benz Mexico fully manufactures some Mercedes and Daimler vehicles completely from locally built parts (C-Class, E-Class, M-Class, International trucks, Axor, Atego, and Mercedes Buses), manufactures other models in complete knock down kits (CL-Class, CLK-Class, SL-Class, SLK-Class) and manufactures a select number of models in semi knockdown kits which use both imported components and locally sourced Mexican components (S-Class, CLS-Class, R-Class, GL-Class, Sprinter).
Nigeria - assembly of buses, trucks, utility motors and the Sprinter van
United States - the Mercedes-Benz M-Class Sport Utility, the R-Class Sport Tourer, and the full-sized GL-Class Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle are all built at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International production facility near Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Trucks (6,000 per year in the late seventies) were once assembled in Hampton, VA.
Vietnam - assembly of E-Class, C-Class, S-Class, GLK-Class and Sprinter. Established in 1995.
Jordan : buses company factory Elba House, Amman .
Since its inception, Mercedes-Benz had maintained a reputation for its quality and durability. Objective measures looking at passenger vehicles, such as J. D. Power surveys, demonstrated a downturn in reputation in these criteria in the late 1990s and early 2000s. By mid-2005, Mercedes temporarily returned to the industry average for initial quality, a measure of problems after the first 90 days of ownership, according to J. D. Power. In J. D. Power's Initial Quality Study for the first quarter of 2007, Mercedes showed dramatic improvement by climbing from 25th to 5th place and earning several awards for its models. For 2008, Mercedes-Benz's initial quality rating improved by yet another mark, to fourth place. On top of this accolade, it also received the Platinum Plant Quality Award for its Mercedes’ Sindelfingen, Germany assembly plant. J. D. Power's 2011 US Initial Quality and Vehicle Dependability Studies both ranked Mercedes-Benz vehicles above average in build quality and reliability. In the 2011 UK J. D. Power Survey, Mercedes cars rated above average. A 2014 iSeeCars.com study for Reuters found Mercedes to have the lowest vehicle recall rate.
Mercedes-Benz carries a full range of passenger, light commercial and heavy commercial equipment. Vehicles are manufactured in multiple countries worldwide. The Smartmarque of city cars and Maybach luxury cars are also produced by Daimler AG.
The first factory to be built outside Germany after WWII was in Argentina. It originally built trucks, many of which were modified independently to buses, popularly named Colectivo. Today, it builds buses, trucks and the Sprinter van.
Until 1994, Mercedes-Benz used an alphanumeric system for categorising their vehicles, consisting of a number sequence approximately equal to the engine's displacement in liters multiplied by 100, followed by an arrangement of alphabetical suffixes indicating body style and engine type.
"C" indicates a coupe or cabriolet body style.
"D" indicates the vehicle is equipped with a diesel engine.
"E" (for "Einspritzung") indicates the vehicle's engine is equipped with petrol fuel injection. In most cases (the 600 limousine being the exception), if neither "E" or "D" is present, the vehicle has a petrol engine with a carburettor.
"K" was used in the 1930s, indicating a supercharger ("Kompressor") equipped engine. One exception is the SSK, where K indicates "Kurz" (short-wheelbase).
"L" indicates "Leicht" (lightweight) for sporting models, and "Lang" (long-wheelbase) for sedan models.
"R" indicates "Rennen" (racing), used for racing cars (for example, the 300SLR).
"S" Sonderklasse "Special class" for flagship models.
"T" indicates "Touring" and an estate (or station wagon) body style.
Some models in the 1950s also had lower-case letters (b, c, and d) to indicate specific trim levels. For other models, the numeric part of the designation does not match the engine displacement. This was done to show the model's position in the model range independent of displacement or in the price matrix. For these vehicles, the actual displacement in liters is suffixed to the model designation. An exception was the 190-class with the numeric designation of "190" as to denote its entry level in the model along with the displacement label on the right side of the boot (190E 2.3 for 2.3-litre 4-cylinder petrol motor, 190D 2.5 for 2.5-litre 5-cylinder diesel motor, and so forth). Some older models (such as the SS and SSK) did not have a number as part of the designation at all.
For the 1994 model year, Mercedes-Benz revised the naming system. Models were divided into "classes" denoted by an arrangement of up to three letters (see "Current model range" above), followed by a three-digit (or two-digit for AMG models, with the number approximately equal to the displacement in litres multiplied by 10) number related to the engine displacement as before. Variants of the same model such as an estate version or a vehicle with a diesel engine are no longer given a separate letter. The SLR and SLS supercars do not carry a numerical designation.
Today, many numerical designations no longer reflects the engine's actual displacement but more of the relative performance and marketing position. Despite its engine displacement in two litres, the motor in A45 AMG produces more than 375 horsepowers so the designation is higher as to indicate the higher performance. Another example is the E250 CGI having greater performance than the E200 CGI due to the different engine tuning even though both have 1.8-litre engines. From the marketing perspectives, E200 seems more "upscale" than E180. Recent AMG models use the "63" designation (in honor of the 1960s 6.3-litre M100 engine) despite being equipped with either a 6.2-litre (M156) or 5.5-litre (M157) engine.
Some models carry further designations indicating special features:
Since 2002, Mercedes-Benz has developed the F-Cell fuel cell vehicle. The current version, based on the B-Class, has a 250 mile range and is available for lease, with volume production scheduled to begin in 2014. Mercedes has also announced the SLS AMG E-Cell, a fully electric version of the SLS sports car, with deliveries expected in 2013. The Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHYBRID was launched in 2009, and is the first production automotive hybrid in the world to use a lithium-ion battery. In mid-2010, production commenced on the Vito E-Cell all-electric van. Mercedes expects 100 vehicles to be produced by the end of 2010 and a further 2000 by the end of 2011.
In 2008, Mercedes-Benz announced that it would have a demonstration fleet of small electric cars in two to three years. Mercedes-Benz and Smart are preparing for the widespread uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK by beginning the installation of recharging points across their dealer networks. So far 20 Elektrobay recharging units, produced in the UK by Brighton-based Elektromotive, have been installed at seven locations as part of a pilot project, and further expansion of the initiative is planned later in 2010.
In the United States, Mercedes-Benz was assessed a record US$30.66 million fine for their decision to not meet the federal corporate average fuel economy standard in 2009. Certain Mercedes-Benz cars, including the S550 and all AMG models sold in the United States, also face an additional gas guzzler tax. However, newer AMG models fitted with the M157 engine will not be subject to the gas-guzzler tax, due to improved fuel economy, and newer models powered by the M276 and M278 engines will have better fuel economy. In 2008, Mercedes also had the worst CO 2 average of all major European manufacturers, ranking 14th out of 14 manufacturers. Mercedes was also the worst manufacturer in 2007 and 2006 in terms of average CO 2 levels, with 181 g and 188 g of CO 2 emitted per km, respectively.
Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH introduced three new bicycles in 2005, and the range has developed to include the patent pending Foldingbike in 2007. Other models include the Mercedes-Benz Carbon Bike, Trekking Bike, Fitness Bike and the Trailblazer Bike.
The two companies which were merged to form the Mercedes-Benz brand in 1926 had both already enjoyed success in the new sport of motor racing throughout their separate histories. A single Benz competed in the world's first motor race, the 1894 Paris–Rouen, where Émile Roger finished 14th in 10 hours 1 minute. Throughout its long history, the company has been involved in a range of motorsport activities, including sports car racing and rallying. On several occasions Mercedes-Benz has withdrawn completely from motorsport for a significant period, notably in the late 1930s, and after the 1955 Le Mans disaster, where a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR rammed another car (An Austin-Healey), took off into the stands, and killed more than 80 spectators. Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson made history by winning the 1955 Mille Miglia road race in Italy during a record-breaking drive with an average speed of almost 98 mph in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.
Mercedes-Benz took part in the world championship in 1954 and 1955, but despite being successful with two championship titles for Juan-Manuel Fangio, the company left the sport after just two seasons. He is considered by many to be the best F1 driver in history.
Mercedes-Benz returned as an engine supplier in the 1990s and part-owned Team McLaren for some years, to which it has supplied engines engineered by Ilmor since 1995. This partnership brought success, including drivers championships for Mika Häkkinen in 1998 and 1999, and for Lewis Hamilton in 2008, as well as a constructors championship in 1998. The collaboration with McLaren had been extended into the production of roadgoing cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
In 2007, McLaren-Mercedes was fined a record US$100 million for stealing confidential Ferrari technical data.
In 2009, Ross Brawn's newly conceived Formula One team, Brawn GP used Mercedes engines to help win the constructor's championship, and Jenson Button to become champion in the F1 drivers' championship. At the end of the season, Mercedes-Benz sold its 40% stake in McLaren to the McLaren Group and bought 70% of the Brawn GP team jointly with an Abu Dhabi based investment consortium. Brawn GP was renamed Mercedes GP for the 2010 season and is, from this season on, a works team for Mercedes-Benz.
The "drop chassis" – the car originally designated the "Mercedes" by Daimler was also the first car with a modern configuration, having the carriage lowered and set between the front and rear wheels, with a front engine and powered rear wheels. All earlier cars were "horseless carriages", which had high centres of gravity and various engine/drive-train configurations
The first passenger road car to have brakes on all four wheels (1924)
Mercedes-Benz were the first to offer direct fuel injection on the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
The "safety cage" or "safety cell" construction with front and rear crumple zones was first developed by Mercedes-Benz in 1951. This is considered by many as the most important innovation in automobile construction from a safety standpoint[verification needed]
In 1959, Mercedes-Benz patented a device that prevents drive wheels from spinning by intervening at the engine, transmission, or brakes. In 1987, Mercedes-Benz applied its patent by introducing a traction control system that worked under both braking and acceleration
an Anti-Lock Breaking system (ABS) was first offered on the W116 450SEL 6.9. They became standard on the W126 S-Class starting production in 1979, and first sold in most markets in 1980.
Airbags were first introduced in the European market, beginning with model year 1981 S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz was the first to introduce pre-tensioners to seat belts on the 1981 S-Class. In the event of a crash, a pre-tensioner will tighten the belt instantaneously, removing any 'slack' in the belt, which prevents the occupant from jerking forward in a crash
Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), brake assist, and many other types of safety equipment were all developed, tested, and implemented into passenger cars – first – by Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz has not made a large fuss about its innovations, and has even licensed them for use by competitors – in the name of improving automobile and passenger safety. As a result, crumple zones and anti-lock brakes (ABS) are now standard on all modern vehicles.[verification needed]
Mercedes M156 engine
The most powerful naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine in the world is the Mercedes-AMG, 6,208 cc M156 V8 engine at 85 PS (63 kW) per litre. The V8 engine is badged '63 AMG', and replaced the '55 AMG' M113 engine in most models. The M156 engine produces up to 391 kW (532 PS; 524 bhp), and although some models using this engine do have this output (such as the S63 and CL63 AMGs), specific output varies slightly across other models in the range
The (W211) E320 CDI which has a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) 3.0-litre V6common rail diesel engine (producing 224 hp or 167 kW), set three world endurance records. It covered 100,000 miles (160,000 km) in a record time, with an average speed of 224.823 km/h (139.70 mph). Three identical cars did the endurance run (one set above record) and the other two cars set world records for time taken to cover 100,000 kilometres (62,137 mi) and 50,000 miles (80,000 km) respectively. After all three cars had completed the run, their combined distance was 300,000 miles (480,000 km) (all records were FIA approved).[clarification needed]
Mercedes-Benz pioneered a system called Pre-Safe to detect an imminent crash – and prepares the car's safety systems to respond optimally. It also calculates the optimal braking force required to avoid an accident in emergency situations, and makes it immediately available for when the driver depresses the brake pedal. Occupants are also prepared by tightening the seat belt, closing the sunroof and windows, and moving the seats into the optimal position.
At 181 horsepowers per litre, the M133 engine installed in Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG is the most powerful series production four-cylinder turbocharged motor (as of June 2013) and has one of the highest power density for a passenger vehicle.
Half a century of vehicle safety innovation helped win Mercedes-Benz the Safety Award at the 2007 What Car? Awards.
In the 1980s, Mercedes built the world's first robot car, together with the team of Professor Ernst Dickmanns at Bundeswehr University Munich. Partially encouraged by Dickmanns' success, in 1987 the European Union's EUREKA programme initiated the Prometheus Project on autonomous vehicles, funded to the tune of nearly €800 million. A culmination point was achieved in 1995, when Dickmanns' re-engineered autonomous S-Class Mercedes took a long trip from Munich in Bavaria to Copenhagen in Denmark, and back. On highways, the robot achieved speeds exceeding 175 km/h (109 mph) (permissible in some areas of the German Autobahn). The car's abilities has heavily influenced robot car research and funding decisions worldwide.
Several companies have become car tuners (or modifiers) of Mercedes Benz, in order to increase performance and/or luxury to a given model.
AMG is Mercedes-Benz's in-house performance-tuning division, specialising in high-performance versions of most Mercedes-Benz cars. AMG engines are all hand-built, and each completed engine receives a tag with the signature of the engineer who built it. AMG has been wholly owned by Mercedes-Benz since 1999. The 2009 SLS AMG, a revival of the 300SL Gullwing, is the first car to be entirely developed by AMG.