Mercedes-Benz (German pronunciation: [mɛʁˈtseːdəsˌbɛnts]) is a global automobile manufacturer and a division of the German company Daimler AG. The brand is known for luxury vehicles, buses, coaches, and lorries. The headquarters is in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg. The name first appeared in 1926 under Daimler-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz traces its origins to Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft‘s 1901 Mercedes and Karl Benz‘s 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen, which is widely regarded as the first gasoline-powered automobile. The slogan for the brand is “the best or nothing”.[1
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 (Daimler Motors Corporation).
Emil Jellinek, an Austrian automobile entrepreneur who worked with DMG created the trademark in 1902, naming the 1901 Mercedes 35 hp after his daughter Mercedes Jellinek. 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. On 28 June 1926, Mercedes-Benz was formed with the merger of Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler’s two companies.
Gottlieb Daimler was born on 17 March 1834 in Schorndorf. After training as a gunsmith and working in France, he attended the Polytechnic School in Stuttgart from 1857 to 1859. After completing various technical activities in France and England, he started work as a draftsman in Geislingen in 1862. At the end of 1863, he was appointed workshop inspector in a machine tool factory in Reutlingen, where he met Wilhelm Maybach in 1865.
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. The pontiff’s Popemobile has often been sourced from Mercedes-Benz. In 1944, 46,000 forced laborers were used in Daimler-Benz’s factories to bolster Nazi war efforts. The company later paid $12 million in reparations to the laborers’ families. 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.
For information relating to the famous three-pointed star, see under the title Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft including the merger into Daimler-Benz.
Daimler’s ultra-luxury brand Maybach was under Mercedes-Benz cars division until 2013, when the production stopped due to poor sales volumes. It now exists under the Mercedes-Maybach name, with the models being ultra-luxury versions of Mercedes cars, such as the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600.
Current model range
Mercedes-Benz offers a full range of passenger, light commercial and heavy commercial equipment. Vehicles are manufactured in multiple countries worldwide. The Smart marque of city cars are also produced by Daimler AG.
- A-Class – Hatchback
- B-Class – Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV)
- C-Class – Saloon, Estate, Coupé and Cabriolet
- CLA-Class – 4 Door Coupé and Estate
- CLS-Class – 4 Door Coupé and Estate
- E-Class – Saloon, Estate, Coupé and Cabriolet
- G-Class – Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
- GLA-Class – Compact Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)/ Crossover
- GLC-Class – Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
- GLE-Class – Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
- GLS-Class – Large Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
- S-Class – Luxury Saloon, Coupé & Cabriolet
- SL-Class – Grand Tourer
- SLC-Class – Roadster
- V-Class – Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV)/ Van
- AMG GT – Sports car/ Supercar
- Mercedes-Benz Trucks is now part of the Daimler Trucks division, and includes companies that were part of the DaimlerChrysler merger. Gottlieb Daimler sold the world’s first truck in 1886. 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, the Vito and the Sprinter van
- Mercedes-Benz produces a wide range of buses and coaches, mainly for Europe and Asia. The first model was produced by Karl Benz in 1895.
Significant models produced
- 1928: SSK racing car
- 1930: 770 “Großer Mercedes” state and ceremonial car
- 1934: 500 K
- 1936: 260 D World’s first diesel production car
- 1936: 170
- 1938: W195 Speed Record-breaker
- 1939: 320A A military vehicle
- 1951: 300, known as the “Adenauer Mercedes”
- 1953: “Ponton” models
- 1954: 300SL “Gullwing”
- 1956: 190SL
- 1959: “Fintail” models
- 1960: 220SE Cabriolet
- 1963: 600 “Grand Mercedes”
- 1963: 230SL “Pagoda”
- 1965: S-Class
- 1966: 300SEL 6.3
- 1968: W114 “new generation” compact cars
- 1969: C111 experimental vehicle
- 1972: W107 350SL
- 1974: 450SEL 6.9
- 1977: W123– Mercedes’ first station wagon
- 1978: 300SD – Mercedes’ first turbo diesel
- 1979: 500SEL and G-Class
- 1983: 190E 2.3–16
- 1989: 300SL, 500SL
- 1990: 500E
- 1991: 600SEL
- 1993: C-Class
- 1995: C43 AMG
- 1995: SL73 AMG, 7.3 V12
- 1996: SLK
- 1997: A-Class and M-Class
- 2004: SLR McLaren and CLS-Class
- 2007: BlueTec E320, GL320 Bluetec, ML320 Bluetec, R320 Bluetec
- 2010: SLS AMG
- 2013: CLA-Class
- 2016: AMG GT
Until 1994, Mercedes-Benz utilized an alphanumeric system for categorizing 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 (for example, the CL and CLK models, though the C-Class is an exception, since it is also available as a sedan or station wagon).
- “D” indicates the vehicle is equipped with a diesel engine.
- “E” (for “Einspritzung”) indicates the vehicle’s engine is equipped with petrol fuel injection. Also used for electric models and plug-in hybrids.
- “G” was originally used for the Geländewagen off-road vehicle, but is now applied to Mercedes SUVs in general (G, GLA, GLC, GLE and GLS).
- “K” was used in the 1930s, indicating a supercharger (“Kompressor”) equipped engine. Two exceptions : the SSK and CLK, where K indicates “Kurz” (short-wheelbase) (though the SSK had a supercharger).
- “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, including the S-Class, and the SL-Class, SLR McLaren and SLS sportscars.
- “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, SLS and GT supercars do not carry a numerical designation.
Today, many numerical designations no longer reflect the engine’s actual displacement but more of the relative performance and marketing position. Despite its engine displacement in two litres, the powerplant in the A45 AMG produces 355 brake horsepower so the designation is higher as to indicate the greater 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 perspective, 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), a 5.5-litre (M157) or even a 4.0-litre engine.
Some models carry further designations indicating special features:
- “4MATIC” indicates the vehicle is equipped with all-wheel-drive.
- “BlueTEC” indicates a diesel engine with selective catalytic reduction exhaust aftertreatment.
- “BlueEFFICIENCY” indicates special fuel economy features (direct injection, start-stop system, aerodynamic modifications, etc.)
- “CGI” (Charged Gasoline Injection) indicates direct gasoline injection.
- “CDI” (Common-rail Direct Injection) indicates a common-rail diesel engine.
- “Hybrid” indicates a petrol- or diesel-electric hybrid.
- “NGT” indicates a natural gas-fueled engine.
- “Kompressor” indicates a supercharged engine.
- “Turbo” indicates a turbocharged engine, only used on A-, B-,E- and GLK-Class models.
- “AMG Line” indicates the interior or engine, depending which car, has been fitted with the luxuries of their AMG sports cars
Model designation badges can be deleted at the request of the customer.
2015 and beyond
Rationalisation of the model nomenclature was announced in November 2014 for future models. The changes consolidate many confusing nomenclature and their placements in the model range such as CL-Class is now called the S-Class Coupé. The naming structure is divided into four categories: core, off-road vehicle/SUV, 4-door coupé, and roadster. AMG GT, and V-Class are unaffected by the change. In October 2016, Mercedes unveiled the X-Class; a pickup truck built on the Nissan Navara. At the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the company announced the EQ, a family of upcoming battery electric vehicles based on a modular platform, expected to represent up to 25% of its global sales by 2025.
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.
Although there was some activity in the intervening years, it was not until 1987 that Mercedes-Benz returned to front line competition, returning to Le Mans, Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), and Formula One with Sauber. The 1990s saw Mercedes-Benz purchase British engine builder Ilmor (now Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines), and campaign IndyCars under the USAC/CART rules, eventually winning the 1994 Indianapolis 500 and 1994 CART IndyCar World Series Championship with Al Unser, Jr. at the wheel. The 1990s also saw the return of Mercedes-Benz to GT racing, and the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, both of which took the company to new heights by dominating the FIA’s GT1 class.
- 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. Fangio 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. As of 2017, the company currently provides engines to Williams Martini Racing and Sahara Force India F1 Team.
In 2014, Mercedes clinched its first F1 Constructor’s title with drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg with 3 races to go, after dominating much of the season. Mercedes repeated its dominance in 2015 in similar fashion, losing only 3 races out of 19 once again. Mercedes yet again dominated in 2016, losing only 2 races out of 21. In 2017, Mercedes secured a 4th title. In these four years of dominance, Lewis Hamilton won the F1 drivers’ championship in 2014, 2015, and 2017 while Nico Rosberg won in 2016
In June 1909, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) registered both a three-pointed and a four-pointed star as trademarks, but only the three-pointed star was used. To DMG, the star symbolized Gottlieb Daimler’s aims for universal motorization: on land, water and in the air.
Numerous technological innovations have been introduced on Mercedes-Benz automobiles throughout the many years of their production, including:
- The internal combustion engine automobile was developed independently by Benz and Daimler & Maybach in 1886
- Daimler invented the honeycomb radiator of the type still used on all water-cooled vehicles today
- Daimler invented the float carburetor which was used until replaced by fuel injection
- 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)
- In 1936, the Mercedes-Benz 260 D was the first diesel-powered passenger car.
- 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 Brake 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
- In September 2003, Mercedes-Benz introduced the world’s first seven-speed automatic transmission called ‘7G-Tronic‘
- 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
- The (W211) E320 CDI which has a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) 3.0-litre V6 common 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 horsepower 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. Encouraged in part 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. In 1995 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).
In October 2015, the company introduced the Vision Tokyo, a five-seat self-driving electric van powered by a hybrid hydrogen fuel-cell system. The super-sleek van is touted as “a chill-out zone in the midst of megacity traffic mayhem.”