Karl Benz built what is regarded as the first ever car and ever since he and Gottileb Daimler got under the hood, Mercedes have been pioneers. From road cars to motorsport, they have aided the development of the industry throughout their history. Here we will take a look at the technological advancements that have made Mercedes one of the biggest brands in the world.
First petrol-powered car
As mentioned, it is Karl Benz who is famed for producing the very first petrol powered car, the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen. Benz had a fondness for bikes and set about designing a horseless carriage. Owning a company that made industrial machines and gas engines he had the capability to fit the design with a four-stroke engine that could generate power.
This was patented and put Benz firmly into the history books as one of the great inventors. As the company says, ‘since inventing the car in 1886, we’ve simply never stopped reinventing it’ and it is this push for innovation that keeps it ahead of the curve.
Electric cars, improved engines and 4-wheel suspension
In the early 1900s, the honeycomb engine-cooling device entered production before they started an early push at hybrid cars with the 1906 electric offerings. Then they set about improving performance, fuel consumption and power with first the multivalve and then the supercharged engines.
The Mercedes 170 was a special car in 1931 as it boasted the first properly independent suspension. Comfort and handling is imperative to a good driving experience, and a lot of this is down to wheel control. This has inspired the evolution of advanced four-wheel drives.
For all the talk about glitz and extreme top speeds, safety is the most important aspect of day-to-day driving. Unsurprisingly, Mercedes were front-runners in this category as well. From the ‘safety cage’ that made front and rear crumple zones to air bags, they have headed safety innovation when it comes to cars.
You could argue that the ‘safety cage’ was the most important innovation in safety and that was developed back in 1951. Moving forward, 1978 saw Mercedes use anti-lock brakes for the first time, traction control was introduced in 1986 and even air bags were originally used by Mercedes-Benzes in the late 1980s.
This isn’t to say that other manufacturers haven’t pulled their weight on this front; the seat belt as we know it is credited to Volvo for example, but they have been at the forefront.
From the early days of motor racing, Mercedes has been a big name within the sport. It may not have always been part of the championships but during the 30s they were the dominant force. Thanks to a lot of government money, they were able to invest in producing modern, and fastest, cars.
The most famous of these was the silver arrows. Rumour has it that they were silver because the white paint was chipped away to lose excess weight but the aluminium exterior is part of its charm. Juan Manuel Fangio won championships with them in the mid-50s and the race car fetched almost £20 million in auction last year.
These iconic doors were pioneered by Mercedes-Benz all the way back in 1952. So called because they evoke the image of seagull wings, they look cool but are more than just stylish because, opening upwards, they are ideal in tight spaces and urban areas.
Though not used much these days, the distinctive doors were first brought to attention with the Mercedes-Benz 300SL which was the fastest car of its day.
At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier in the year, Mercedes took to the stage to show how their technological advancements are up there with the best of the best. Self-driving cars are something that is being talked about a lot and many see it as the future of driving, no one more so than the German manufacturer.
These cars are already in production at Mercedes as they look to continually stay ahead of trends and offer the best possible safety standards within the luxury motors. Already intelligently connected, it seems that autonomous driving isn’t something for the science fiction films but actually a part of the near future.
The company had a stand at that show and gave people insights into the world of Mercedes-Benz and what the future may look like. This included everything from current apps to integrating things like Google Glass into the vehicle telematics system to giving a demonstration in how you will soon be able to view vehicle data from the comfort of your living room.
It is all part of their innovative look to future technology, and having won ‘Global Technology Innovator 2013’ it will be interesting to see what the bods come up with moving forward.
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