Mercedes-Benz

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For other uses of the name Mercedes, see Mercedes.
Mercedes-Benz
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Type Division of DaimlerChrysler
Founded 1871
Headquarters Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Flag of Germany Germany
Key people
Gottlieb Daimler
Karl Benz
Dieter Zetsche, current CEO
Automotive
Automobiles
Trucks
Buses
Engines
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DaimlerChrysler AG
www.mercedes-benz.com

Mercedes-Benz (sometimes shortened to just Mercedes or "Benz") is a German brand name of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks created for Daimler-Benz AG and now owned by DaimlerChrysler AG. The Daimler-Benz company originated on June 28, 1926 when two companies, Benz & Cie. and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG), the inventors of the automobile, merged.

Established in 1871, Benz & Cie. was the most important of several companies founded by Karl Benz. DMG was founded by Gottlieb Daimler and his partner Wilhelm Maybach in 1890, but Daimler died in 1900 and Maybach left DMG in 1907, by which time the two companies were rivals. In 1924, owing to economic necessity after World War One, they entered into an "Agreement of Mutual Interest" (valid until the year 2000), however, this initial agreement still allowed each company to manufacture and sell their products under their original brand names. It was only after the 1926 official merger, that the brand Mercedes-Benz was created and used.

Mercedes-Benz is the brand name applied to the models of one of the premier automotive manufacturers in the world and, because of its tie to Karl Benz, it is also the name of the world's oldest continuously produced automobile line. In 1926 when the new company, Daimler-Benz was established through merger, a new logo also was created that would include a symbol for each and integrate the names of the two former companies. A three-pointed star had been designed by Gottlieb Daimler, to show the ability of his motors for land, air, and sea use. This star first appeared on a DMG model in 1909, so it was chosen for the new logo. However the brand name Daimler had been licensed for use on other automobiles (in France and the United Kingdom), so the name of its seminal Mercedes model was chosen for the DMG portion of the logo. The traditional laurel symbol of Karl Benz was added along with his name to complete the new logo. The logo with a plain ring, as seen today, was not used until 1937.

Mercedes-Benz automobiles have introduced — both in the past and present — many technological and safety features (see details below). It was in 1998, when Daimler-Benz and Chrysler agreed to combine their businesses — known as the "merger of equals", that a new entity, DaimlerChrysler AG was created.

Contents

History

File:Benz Patent Motorwagen 1886 (Replica).jpg
Benz Patent Motorwagen 1886 (Replica). Allegedly the world's first true automobile.
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Benz Velo 1894.
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1934 Mercedes-Benz Silver 500K Template:3d glasses.

The origins of the Daimler-Benz company founded through a merger in 1926 date back to the mid-1880s, when Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900) working with Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929), and Karl Benz (1844-1929) independently invented the internal combustion engine-powered automobile, in southwestern Germany. Although they were merely sixty miles apart, these pioneers were unaware of each other's early work.

File:Zzz-BenzMerceBenz.jpg
The first logo of Mercedes-Benz from the 1926 merger of the companies of Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler.

Karl Benz had his shop in Mannheim and invented the world's first true automobile powered by an internal combustion engine in 1885. It had three wheels. He was granted a patent for his automobile, dated January 29, 1886, for what he called the "Benz Patent Motorwagen". Among many inventions, Benz patented his first engine in 1879 and included in his 'integral' design for the Motorwagen patent application, a high-speed single-cylinder four-stroke engine of his own design.

In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler and design partner Wilhelm Maybach, working in Cannstatt, Stuttgart, were granted a patent dated August 29, 1885 for what is generally recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine, that they named the "grandfather clock engine".

On March 8, 1886, Daimler purchased a stagecoach made by Wilhelm Wimpff & Sohn and he and Maybach adapted it to hold this engine, thereby creating a four-wheeled carriage propelled by an engine, as many had before them. The only distinction about this carriage was that it carried an internal combustion engine. None of many similar attempts to adapt carts, boats, or carriages, in many countries, were propelled by this type of engine. On the official history pages of the Mercedes-Benz Internet site it is referred to as "a carriage — without a drawbar but with the conventional drawbar steering. A carriage without horses..." Daimler and Maybach later purposely built, from scratch, the first four-stroke engine powered automobile with four wheels in 1889. They founded DMG in 1890 and sold their first automobile in 1892.

Stationary engines were his major business and he invented many improvements to them and their application, but Karl Benz continued to refine his Motorwagen through several models and sold his first automobile in 1888. He built his first four-wheeled model in 1891. Benz & Cie, the company started by the inventor, became the world's largest manufacturer of automobiles by 1900.

In 1899, DMG automobiles built at Untertürkheim (a city district of Stuttgart) were raced successfully by Emil Jellinek (1853-1918), an automobile enthusiast and dealer. He had the name of his daughter, Mercedes, painted on the automobiles for good luck. Wanting faster race cars, it was Jellinek who spurred the development of the seminal 1900 DMG model that would be the first of the DMG Mercedes series, bearing the name of his daughter.

After suggesting some design specifications, he promised to purchase thirty-six of the new DMG model if Maybach would name the new 35 hp engine contained in it the Daimler-Mercedes engine. A contract of five hundred and fifty thousand marks was made for these new models. Within weeks he contracted for thirty-six of another DMG model with 8 hp engines. He was granted an exclusive concession to sell the new DMG automobiles in Austria-Hungary, France, Belgium, and USA.

That new model later would be named "Mercedes 35 hp" and it was a very important advance in automobile design. The contract called for delivery of the first automobile to Jellinek in the Fall, but it did not reach him until December 22, 1900. He became obsessed with the name Mercedes and even had his name changed to Jellinek-Mercedes. Jellinek was invited to sit on the DMG board of directors, which he did from 1901 until 1909, when he retired from automotive activities in favor of diplomatic appointments.

The name change also was helpful in preventing legal troubles, because after the death of Daimler, DMG had sold exclusive rights to the name, Daimler, and technical concepts to companies abroad. As a result, luxury automobiles branded Daimler were, and still are, built in England. A fire that gutted the old Steinway piano factory in New York, which had been converted to produce the new Mercedes models, cut short the dream of American production.

File:1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK 34.jpg
1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK "Count Trossi" in the Ralph Lauren collection.

The rival companies of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) and Benz & Cie. started to cooperate in 1924, due to necessity arising from a troubled German economy after World War I, and finally merged in 1926 to become Daimler-Benz AG, which produced Mercedes-Benz automobiles and trucks. The merger agreement established that the two companies were required to remain together until 2000. While focusing on land vehicles, Mercedes-Benz also built engines to power boats and airplanes (military and civil), and even Zeppelins. Karl Benz died in 1929.

During the Second World War, Daimler-Benz is known to have exploited more than 30,000 forced workers and prisoners of war, some of whom would eventually strike, and be sent to concentration camps. This working force soon became essential to the production capacity of the company after 1941, and was a key to the construction of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe and war machine.

File:1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe 34.jpg
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe from the Ralph Lauren collection.

Although the brand is most famous for limousine models, a siginificant number of notable sports cars have also been produced. For example, the early supercharged SSK developed by Ferdinand Porsche. Another distinctive model was the iconic 300SL Gullwing of 1954; that was suggested by Max Hoffman, explicitly for the USA market, and introduced at the New York Autombile Show.

Mercedes-Benz has also produced higher volume, less expensive cars. Interestingly, the prototypes of the Volkswagen were built and tested in Stuttgart, in cooperation with Porsche. Before that, Mercedes-Benz had a similar rear-engined, yet rather unsuccessful, small car, the 130 H. In recent years Mercedes have produced the relatively cheap A-Class. Also the Smart brand of small affordable automobiles has been part of the Mercedes-Benz Group since 1994 and are still producing cars today in conjunction with DaimlerChrysler AG.

Motorsport

Main Article Mercedes-Benz motorsport.
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1957 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Cabriolet
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1959 Mercedes-Benz W120 Model 180

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- both had entries in the very first automobile race Paris to Rouen 1894. This has continued, and throughout its long history, the company has been involved in a range of motorsport activities, including sportscar racing and rallying. On several occcassions 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 300SLR collided with another car and killed more than eighty spectators. Although there was some activity in the inteverning years, it was not until the late 1980s that Mercedes-Benz returned to front line competition, returning to LeMans and sportscar racing with Sauber.

The 1990s saw Mercedes-Benz purchase engine builder Ilmor, and campaign cars at the famed Indy 500 race under the USAC/CART rules, eventually winning that race with Al Unser, Jr. at the wheel. The 90's also saw the return of MB to GT racing, and the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, which took the company to new heights (both figuratively) by dominating the FIA's GT1 class and (literally) by notably taking flight at the end of a long straight at La Sarthe.

Mercedes-Benz is currently active in three forms of motorsport, Formula Three, DTM and Formula One. In Formula One, the company part owns Team McLaren and has supplied the team with engines since 1995. This partnership has brought great success, including back to back Drivers Championships for Mika Häkkinen in 1998 and 1999 and a Constructors championship in 1998. The collaboration with McLaren has been extended into the production of roadgoing cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

Business alliances

Studebaker-Packard Corporation

In 1958 Mercedes-Benz entered into a distribution agreement with the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana (USA), makers of Studebaker and Packard brand automobiles. Under the deal, Studebaker would allow Mercedes-Benz access to their U.S. dealer network, handle shipments of vehicles to those dealers, and in return receive compensation for each car sold. Studebaker also was permitted to use the German automaker’s name in its advertisements, which stressed Studebaker's quality over quantity.

When Studebaker entered into informal discussions with Franco-American automaker Facel Vega about offering their Facel Vega Excellence model in the United States, Mercedes-Benz objected to the proposal. Studebaker, which needed Mercedes-Benz distribution payments to help stem heavy losses, dropped further action on the plan.

Mercedes-Benz maintained an office within the Studebaker works in South Bend from 1958 to 1963 when Studebaker's U.S. operations ceased. Many U.S. Studebaker dealers converted to Mercedes-Benz dealerships at that time. When Studebaker closed its Canadian operation and left the automobile business in 1966, remaining Studebaker dealers had the option to convert their dealerships to Mercedes-Benz dealership agreements.

Production

Besides its native Germany, Mercedes-Benz are also manufactured or assembled in:

  • South Africa [1]
  • Thailand [2]
  • Malaysia [3]
  • United States of America [4]
  • Argentina [5] (Buses, Trucks and the van Sprinter. the first factory of Mercedes-Benz outside of Germany)
  • Brazil [6]
  • India [7]
  • Nigeria [8]
  • United Kingdom (The SLR supercar is built here at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking).
  • Egypt [9]
  • Austria (G-Class) [10]
  • China
  • Turkey [11]

Purchasing

Mercedes-Benz automobiles are available at dealerships in over 130 countries and their work fleet (trucks and commercial vehicles) are available from a select group of dealers worldwide as well as the factory-direct. As with several European brand automobiles, Mercedes has offered a European delivery option for purchasing of a Mercedes Benz automobile. Mercedes’ European delivery program (begun by Mercedes in 1963) varies depending upon where the purchase is finalized. For example, if arranged for on the eastern seaboard of the United States, the program may offer two transatlantic coach tickets on Lufthansa to Frankfurt, Germany with ground transportation to the designated European delivery factory in Sindelfingen, Germany. If European delivery is arranged for on the west coast of the United States, the program will offer a free companion ticket with the purchase of a business class ticket on Lufthansa, arranged for by Mercedes Benz’s travel agent. Once in Germany, purchasers utilizing European delivery are given one night in a Sindelfingen hotel. Purchasers get a free, optional factory tour and lunch and then are given possession of their automobile. The automobile may stay within Germany for 6 months without registering within the European Union, but only includes 15 days worth of no-deductible insurance courtesy of Mercedes Benz. North American consumers can then drop off their Mercedes Benz in fourteen designated drop-off locations located in Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom at no extra charge. Drop-off locations in Italy are offered but for an additional fee.

Certain car types are not eligible for Mercedes’ European Delivery program and any car purchased through this program must be destined for export to the purchaser’s country of origin and must comply with the regulations of the destination country. Fortunately, taking possession of the car in Germany and utilizing the European Delivery does not expose the purchaser to the currency fluctuations of the euro since the purchase is really deemed finalized in the country of origin. Additionally, purchasers may experience savings as great as 7% of what they would have paid without European delivery (i.e.: a standard sale through their North American dealer).

Cars

Significant car models produced

See also List of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

McLaren cars

Mercedes-Benz has also produced a supercar with McLaren Cars, an extension of the collaboration by which Mercedes engines are used by the Team McLaren-Mercedes Formula One racing team, which is part owned by Mercedes. Many anticipate there to be a range of McLaren--Mercedes supercars produced in Woking (McLaren’s manufacturing headquarters). The 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren has a carbon-fiber body with a 5.5l V8 supercharged engine. This is the same block as featured in other Mercedes-Benz automobiles, such as the SL55 AMG and the CLS55 AMG, it has however been tweaked to give 454kw and 780nm of torque. The SLR has a maximum speed of over 330km/h and costs approximately $500,000. [12]

The most recent new joint-venture model, expected to reach production, is the mid-engine P8 supercar. Based around a unique carbon fiber monocoque, manufactured by McLaren, the P8 was originally predicted to receive the new naturally aspirated 6.3L V8 from Mercedes-AMG, but experts now say that the engine will be modified for the car and will probably be twin- turbocharged to produce in excess of 600 bhp. The car is still in development, but likely to reach production to go on sale in early 2008, and have a price tag less than that of the SLR.

Car nomenclature

In 1994 (starting with the 1994 models), the traditional nomenclature of Mercedes-Benz vehicles changed. Since the early days of the company the name would be in the form of 500E where the engine displacement made up the first three numbers and the last letter(s) represented the type of engine and/or chassis; for example: "E" for fuel injection ("Einspritzung" in German), "D" for Diesel, "L" for long wheelbase etc.

In 1994, this was altered so that the prefix reflected the model ("class", German "Klasse", in Mercedes-Benz terminology) and a number the displacement. The suffix was retained in some cases, for example "L" for long wheelbase, and "CDI" for Diesel (CDI = Common rail Direct Injection). Thus, the 500E in the example above became the E500 ("E-Klasse", 5 liters displacement). It should also be noted that while in the past the model number generally accurately reflected the actual engine displacement, this is currently not always the case - for example the E200 CDI and E220 CDI actually both have a 2.2 liter displacement, and the C240 actually has a 2.6 litre engine. Also, there is a huge difference in power (and price) between some cars with the same engine number, such as CLK55 and CL55.

Concept Models

Buses

Main article: Mercedes-Benz buses

Mercedes-Benz also produces buses, mainly for Europe and Asia. The first factory to be built outside of Germany after WWII was in Argentina. It originally built Truck-Buses, named Colectivo in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1950-1987), but now builds buses.

Vans

MB produce a range of vans. The current range consists of

Trucks

MB is the world's largest manufacturer of trucks

The current range consists of

Tuners

MB automobiles are very popular among performance-oriented buyers, and many companies have come to notoriety as tuners of these cars, adding even more performance and or luxury to the brand.

Robot Cars

In the 1980s Mercedes built the world's first robot cars, together with the team of Professor Ernst Dickmanns at Bundeswehr Universität München. 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 Euros. 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 kilometres per hour (roughly 110 miles per hour; there is no general speed limit on the German Autobahn). The car's abilities left a big impression on many observers, and heavily influenced robot car research and funding decisions world-wide.

Bicycles

Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH introduced 3 new bicycles in 2005, named Automatic Bike, Fitness Bike, Mountain Bike.[14] The bikes are sold in Australia[15], Germany, Russia.[16]

List of vehicles

Trivia

  • The "Safety cage" or "Safety cell" construction with front and rear crumple zones —considered by many as the most important innovation in automobile construction from a safety standpoint, and now used in nearly all cars and trucks—was first developed by Mercedes-Benz in 1951.[17]
  • In LUPIN III, The mercedes SSK Appear in the movie.
  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS) were used first in Mercedes-Benz cars in 1978. They have been standard equipment on all Mercedes-Benz cars since model year 1989.
  • Mercedes-Benz - first cars to use traction control Introduced in 1986 to reduce wheelslip/spin in wet or icy conditions.
  • The first airbags offered in the European market were in Mercedes-Benz automobiles in 1980. Also the first manufacture to include airbags as standard safety equipment on its cars.
  • 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 almost instantaneously, preventing the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.
  • Stability control, 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.
  • The fastest (production) automatic road car in the world, is the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren at 334 km/h (208 mph). The car was co-developed by DaimlerChrysler and McLaren Cars. It is assembled at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England. Although some consider the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 as the fastest automatic, the transmission used in that car is an automated manual and not a traditional automatic with a torque converter.
  • The fastest street-legal saloon car in the world is the Mercedes-Benz BRABUS (tuned) W211 'E V12' - based on the E-Class saloon. The car uses a tuned version of the M275 AMG biturbo V12 engine which now produces 640 bhp (471 kW) and over 1000 Nm (757 lb-ft) of torque, the top speed was recorded as 350.2 km/h (217.6 mph) in Nardo, Italy.
  • The (W211) E320 CDI which has a (VTG) turbocharged, 3.0L V6 common rail diesel engine, set new world endurance records. It covered 100,000 miles (the equivalent of four times round the Earth, which has a circumference of approximately 24,900 miles) in record time with an astonishing average speed of 224.823 km/h (140 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 km and 50,000 miles respectively. After all three cars had completed the run their combined distance of 300,000 miles is one-and-a-quarter times the distance from Earth to the moon (all records were FIA approved).
  • The most powerful naturally aspirated eight cylinder engine in the world is the Mercedes-AMG, 6208cc M156 V8 engine. It is the first engine in the world to combine large displacement with the high-revving concept, allowing it to produce around 20 percent more torque than comparable naturally aspirated engines in this performance class. The V8 engine will be badged '63 AMG' and will replace the '55 AMG' M113 engine in most models (exceptions include the SL55 and G55 AMG which will retain the M113 engine). The M156 engine can produce up to 518bhp, and although some models using this engine do have this output (like the S63 and CL63 AMGs) specific output varies slightly across other models in the range.[18]
  • "Mercedes Benz", a song by Janis Joplin, Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth, famously sung a cappella by Janis Joplin, was intended as a gentle satire on materialism, but, ironically, has since been used in the automobile brand's advertising and later was used in a BMW advertisement on German TV; the driver of a BMW Z3 convertible raised his eyebrows after the first "buy me a Mercedes-Benz" and threw out the tape after "my friends all drive Porsches".
  • Since 1948, Mercedes-Benz has built the Unimog, or "Universal Motor-Gerät", a 4WD truck. It features extreme offroad capability due to offset axles and elastic frame, drive shafts for numerous additional machines, hydraulic and pneumatic connections, etc. Despite its high price, the Unimog is popular as allround work horse, as snow plow, expedition vehicle in desert, jungle, and mountains, and it has won the truck class at high speed desert races such as Paris-Dakar, and is used in some countries by their armed forces.
  • Mercedes-Benz claims all of the wood used in its modern automobiles is raised on tree farms. This claim has not been confirmed.
  • The first Daimler-Benz factory to be built outside of Germany after World War II was in Argentina. It originally built a massive number of trucks, some of which were slightly modified (by Mercedes-Benz) to Truck-Busses, popularly named Colectivo (in Buenos Aires).
  • In September 2003, Mercedes-Benz introduced the world's first 7-speed automatic transmission called '7G-TRONIC'.
  • Jeremy Clarkson has said in a recent Top Gear episode that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class contains technology to be found on other cars in the future. Clarkson states, "If you want to know what toys are going to be fitted in your ordinary family saloon in like 10 years time, there is only one place to look..." "It's more than just a car, it's a glimpse into the future, it's a showcase of everything that can be done and everything that everyone else will be doing very soon."
  • Mercedes-Benz are currently in the process of developing a "fatigue warning system" for motorists.[19]
  • Professional skateboarder/MTV actor Bam Margera owns a Mercedes S55 AMG with a custom Heartagram hood ornament instead of the regular Mercedes one. The Heartagram is the logo for the Finnish rock band H.I.M.

References

  • Mercedes-Benz U.S.A. Mercedes-Benz. Retrieved December 21, 2003 from [20]

See also

External links

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