Innovation and safety

Innovations for the mobility of the future

The greatest possible customer utility, the most stringent safety standards, maximum environmental compatibility and efficiency — we rely on innovative concepts and environmentally sound product development to help us achieve all of those goals simultaneously. Our innovations range from pioneering vehicle and drive-system technologies to intelligent lightweight engineering concepts, innovative comfort features and sophisticated assistance systems that can prevent accidents. Over recent years in particular, we have made tremendous progress on the road to accident-free and emission-free driving. We have a greater range of electric vehicles on the road than any other automaker and we also set standards for safety. We have established a leading position in the area of autonomous driving in particular, and we plan to further strengthen this position.

Daimler and Mercedes-Benz receive awards for their innovative capability

In April 2015, both Daimler and Mercedes-Benz received awards for their innovative capability as a result of an extensive study conducted by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) and the Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) corporate consulting firm. The study found that Mercedes-Benz is the most innovative premium automobile brand with the greatest number of world firsts. Mercedes-Benz also received a special award as the “Most Innovative Brand in the Last Decade.” Daimler was named “Most Innovative Group” in the category “Alternative Drive Systems.”

Mercedes-Benz beat out the competition with its 578 individual innovations and 183 world firsts. The outstanding innovations cited include DISTRONIC PLUS with Stop&Go Pilot, the economical hybrid drive system in the S-Class and the MAGIC BODY CONTROL suspension. Innovations highlighted in the “Most Innovative Premium Brand” category included the curve tilting technology in the S-Class Coupe, the 24-pixel LED MULTIBEAM headlights in the CLS and the overall concept of the CLA Shooting Brake, which leads the way in its segment by combining the beauty of a coupe with the practical benefits of a station wagon. Daimler came out on top in the “Alternative Drive Systems” category as a result of the S-Class and C-Class plug-in hybrids and the all-electric B-Class.

Our “road to emission-free mobility”

Our goal is to safeguard mobility for the generations to come. We therefore strive to offer our customers vehicles and services that are safe and efficient and produce low emissions — along the entire value chain. Our “Road to Emission-free Driving” initiative defines the key development approaches for creating new extremely fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly drive-system technologies at all of our automotive divisions:

1. We continue to enhance our vehicles with state-of-the-art internal combustion engines that we are optimizing to achieve significantly lower fuel consumption and emissions.

2. We are achieving further significant increases in efficiency through customized hybridization, i.e. the combination of combustion engines and electric motors.

3. Our electric vehicles, powered by batteries or fuel cells, are making locally emission-free driving possible. (See graphic B.40)

B.40 Emission free mobility

We are systematically pursuing our approach to emission-free driving along the entire value chain. To this end, we are addressing all relevant aspects and exploiting potential at all development units for everything from lightweight engineering to optimized aerodynamics, the use of clean and efficient fuels, the creation of electric drive systems and the implementation of sustainable mobility concepts. We also view emissions as a holistic issue and are therefore examining ways to reduce other types of emissions besides pollutants — e.g. noise.

Efficient cars and commercial vehicles with internal combustion engines

Much of our research and development work focuses on making our cars and commercial vehicles with internal combustion engines even more efficient. This is largely made possible by engines with low displacement and turbochargers, as well as by lightweight engineering, aerodynamic improvements, tires with low rolling resistance, demand-appropriate energy management and an automatic start-stop function. In particular, our new SUVs that were launched in 2015 displayed significantly higher fuel efficiency. This was made possible by modified or new drive systems, outstanding aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight design. For example, the new GLC SUV boasts up to 19 % lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared with predecessor models with the same engine output, despite its improved driving performance. The most fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz passenger car with a combustion engine is currently the A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition (A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition: fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 3.9 / extra-urban 3.2 / combined 3.5; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 89; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: 13.5), which boasts average diesel consumption of only 3.5 liters per 100 km. We are exploiting additional emission-reduction potential through intelligent and customized hybridization.

We have also further reduced the fuel consumption of our range of commercial vehicles, thanks to the most recent additions and the use of new engines. Our Actros, Arocs, Antos and Atego series, the heavy-duty Freightliner Cascadia Evolution in the United States and the FUSO Super Great V are amongst the cleanest and most economical trucks in their respective classes — and our new buses also boast outstanding fuel consumption figures. (See Environmental protection)

Additional plug-in hybrids with the star

Following the launch in October 2014 of the S 500 e (S 500 e: fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 2.8; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 65; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: 13.5) — the world’s first certified “three-liter” luxury sedan — we continued our hybrid offensive with the introduction of additional models in 2015.

The Mercedes-Benz C 350 e (C 350 e: fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 2.4 - 2.1; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 54 - 48; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: 11.3 - 11.0) makes an excellent impression both as a sedan and a wagon through its exceptionally dynamic handling and efficiency. It can also be driven in the pure electric mode, and thus locally emission-free, for a distance of 31 kilometers. The model has a drive-system output of 205 kW (279 hp) and system torque of 600 Nm. The C 350 e (C 350 e: fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 2.4 - 2.1; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 54 - 48; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: 11.3 - 11.0) thus displays the driving performance of a sports car, even as it boasts certified fuel consumption of between 2.4 and 2.1 liters per 100 km as a sedan or station wagon (depending on the equipment features installed). The fuel consumption figures correspond to CO2 emissions of just 54-48 g/km. Independent monitors from the TÜV Süd inspection agency have now confirmed the high degree of environmental compatibility of the Mercedes-Benz C 350 e (C 350 e: fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 2.4 - 2.1; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 54 - 48; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: 11.3 - 11.0): The new plug-in-hybrid meets all the requirements for environmentally sound product development in accordance with the ISO TR 14062 standard. This certification is based on a comprehensive life cycle assessment of the model in which every environmentally relevant detail is documented.

The new GLE 500 e 4MATIC (GLE 500 e 4MATIC: fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 3.3; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 78; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: 16.0) is the first Mercedes-Benz SUV equipped with a plug-in hybrid drive. The model combines the performance and comfort of a V8 engine with the fuel consumption of a “three-liter vehicle” and the versatility of a premium SUV. Its drive-system components include a direct-injection BlueDIRECT V6 gasoline engine with an output of 245 kW (333 hp) and a hybrid module with an electrical output of 85 kW (116 hp). Along with the impressive acceleration enabled by a boost function, the innovative drive system allows for purely electric driving at speeds of up to 130 km/h, optimized energy recovery made possible by an intelligent operating strategy, and comfort features such as pre-entry climate control in both summer and winter.

In the spring of 2016, Mercedes-Benz will begin offering a plug-in hybrid in the compact SUV segment: the GLC 350 e 4MATIC (GLC 350 e 4MATIC: fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 2.7-2.5; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 64-59; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: 15.2-13.9) combines agile all-wheel driving pleasure with minimal consumption and emission values. The mid-size SUV has a top speed of 235 km/h and emits just 59 to 64 g CO2/km; these are new top figures for its segment.

In the period up until 2017, we will launch a total of ten plug-in hybrid cars whose batteries can also be charged via the normal power grid. This Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid offensive will be accompanied over the next several years by the launch of additional fully electric vehicles. For example, the new electric smart will be introduced in 2016 — for the first time as a four-seater as well. In addition, we are currently developing a concept for an overarching vehicle architecture for electric cars with a range of 400–500 km. And on the basis of the Mercedes-Benz GLC, we will launch an innovative fuel-cell vehicle with a long range and quick refueling as a series-produced model. Daimler also continues to invest heavily in the expansion of its battery expertise, which underscores the company’s firm commitment to electric mobility and its holistic approach to sustainability.

Clean, quiet and efficient: New natural gas drive systems for urban buses

With its new Citaro NGT urban bus, Mercedes-Benz is now offering an attractive alternative to the diesel-powered Citaro. The Citaro NGT (Natural Gas Technology) stands out with its low-noise operation and lower CO2 emissions, both of which offer key benefits in congested inner cities. The Citaro NGT also makes a convincing argument with its low weight and associated high passenger capacity, as well as through its engine’s strong power delivery, low fuel consumption and long maintenance intervals. The Citaro NGT’s new high-tech natural gas engine is extremely efficient. In combination with the intelligent operation of its auxiliary systems, the vehicle offers potential fuel savings of 15 % to 20 % compared to the predecessor model. Even greater fuel savings can be achieved through the use of an optional energy recovery module. Mercedes-Benz offers the new drive-system variant as a Citaro NGT solo bus and a Citaro G NGT articulated bus. The Citaro NGT can be operated with either natural gas or renewable natural gas, in which case the Citaro NGT becomes a virtually CO2-neutral bus.

Fuel-cell infrastructure

With the establishment of their H2 MOBILITY Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG joint venture, the companies Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total have set the stage for the phased expansion of a nationwide hydrogen filling station network in Germany. Plans call for approximately 400 stations to be built in Germany by 2023 with a total investment of approximately €400 million. H2 MOBILITY, which has its headquarters in Berlin, has already started operations and is preparing the first phase of its plan of action, which will involve the rapid installation of an initial group of 100 filling stations over the next few years. The success of fuel-cell drive systems powered by hydrogen depends to a large extent on the establishment of a filling station infrastructure, which H2 MOBILITY will now create. Daimler is convinced that fuel-cell drive systems powered by hydrogen offer great potential. In particular, their long range and short refilling times lead to extensive benefits as an alternative to battery-electric drive for vehicles that travel long distances. Our F 015 Luxury in Motion and Vision Tokyo research vehicles offer a preview of the future of fuel-cell technology. These vehicles are equipped with the innovative F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID system — a combination of an electric motor and a fuel cell that achieves an emission-free range of up to 1,100 km.

Entry into the sector for stationary battery storage devices

In mid-2015, Daimler entered the sector for stationary energy storage devices with its wholly owned ACCUMOTIVE subsidiary. The underlying concept was developed by Daimler Business Innovation and involves both private and commercial use of such devices. For private applications, up to eight battery modules can be combined into an energy storage device with a capacity of 20 kWh. Households that have their own photovoltaic system can use the devices for interim storage of surplus electricity with virtually no losses. The new stationary energy storage devices will be launched on the market in early 2016. The systems for commercial and industrial use can be scaled as desired. Large stationary energy storage devices can be used to stabilize grids or provide support during peak demand. The first industrial-scale lithium-ion storage device is already online and is operated by two Daimler partners: The Mobility House AG and GETEC Energie AG.

Under the motto “E-mobility thought to the end,” the world’s largest second-use battery storage unit at the moment will begin operating in early 2016 within the framework of a joint venture in Lünen, Germany, in which we are participating. The unit will be marketed in Germany’s primary energy balancing sector. The joint venture partners Daimler, The Mobility House, GETEC and REMONDIS cover the entire battery value creation and recycling chain with their project — from the manufacture and reprocessing of battery systems at the Daimler subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE, the corresponding range of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles from Daimler AG, and the installation and marketing of stationary battery storage units in the energy markets by The Mobility House and GETEC, through to the recycling of the battery systems at the end of their lifecycle and the feeding of the valuable raw materials back into the production cycle, which REMONDIS will be responsible for. With their 2nd-use battery storage project, the four partners are also demonstrating that the lifecycle of a plug-in or electric vehicle battery does not end after its automotive application. Instead, battery systems remain fully operational after this point, as the low levels of power loss are only of minor importance when used in stationary storage operations. It is estimated that such a unit can operate efficiently in a stationary application for at least another ten years. This approach demonstrably improves the environmental performance of electric vehicles and also helps make electric mobility more economically efficient.

Our “road to accident-free driving”

Vehicle safety is one of our core areas of expertise and a key component of our product strategy. An important chapter in the history of vehicle safety actually began 75 years ago when the engineer Béla Barényi joined the former Daimler-Benz AG. Mercedes-Benz has been shaping the development of safety systems ever since that time. Many of the company’s innovations, especially those for protecting vehicle occupants and other road users, have saved countless lives. Our vision of accident-free driving will continue to motivate us to make mobility as safe as possible for everyone in the future.

Trailblazing advances on the road to autonomous and accident-free driving

(See Driving into the future)

During the year under review, we made tremendous progress on the road to series production of autonomously driving vehicles, thereby underscoring our technological lead in this area. The milestones for passenger cars in this respect were the F 015 Luxury in Motion and Vision Tokyo research vehicles. With regard to trucks, we received permission to test the Highway Pilot on public roads in both the United States and Germany. We put the autonomously driving Freightliner Inspiration Truck on the road in the United States last May, and the first partially autonomous production truck had its premiere on a Germany highway in October. The latter vehicle is an Actros equipped with the intelligent Highway Pilot system.

The components used in our research and test vehicles are gradually being put into series production, which means partially autonomous driving is already a reality in our production vehicles. For example, the basic elements of the autonomous vehicle system in the Freightliner Inspiration Truck have already been successfully implemented in the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution model, thousands of which are shaping the image of America’s road freight transport. In the form of the DISTRONIC proximity cruise control system installed in many of our Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the DRIVE PILOT can not only automatically maintain a proper distance to vehicles ahead but can also safely follow them at speeds of up to 210 km/h. The system supports drivers during steering and evasive maneuvers as well.

New standards for safety, comfort and stress reduction will also be set once again when the new E-Class is launched in the spring with new driver assistance systems, car-to-X communication technology and innovative safety systems. For example, the new assistance systems package will enable partially autonomous driving on highways and secondary roads and make it possible to automatically move a vehicle in and out of tight parking spaces using a smartphone app without anyone inside the car. An autonomous braking feature will also reduce the risk of an accident in a greater number of situations than before. In addition, the Active Lane Change Assist system will make autonomous lane changes possible for the first time (e.g. for overtaking). Car to-X communication systems provide timely warnings of dangers ahead and state-of-the-art radio technology transforms the smartphone into a car key.

In addition, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the first series-produced car worldwide to receive a test license for autonomous driving in the US federal state of Nevada. For the first time and punctually for the main trade fair for consumer electronics, the CES in Las Vegas, three series-produced E-Class cars were approved in January 2016. (See The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class)

UR:BAN: New assistance systems for city driving

Cross traffic, cyclists, crossing pedestrians (perhaps totally engrossed in their smartphones), children playing — city traffic places demands on drivers in many different situations, while at the same time harboring many dangers as well. So there is plenty of scope for assistance systems that support drivers and also make driving in cities safer and less stressful.

With this goal in mind, Daimler researchers achieved a breakthrough within the framework of the UR:BAN research initiative. Using “scene labeling,” a camera-based system automatically classifies completely unknown situations and thus detects all objects that might be of importance to driver assistance systems — from cyclists to pedestrians and wheelchair users. Daimler researchers showed their system thousands of photos from various German cities. In these photos, they had manually and precisely labeled 25 different object classes, such as vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, streets, sidewalks, buildings, poles and trees. The system used these examples to teach itself how to correctly classify completely unknown images automatically, and thus detect all important objects for driver assistance systems even if such objects are largely hidden or far away. Such abilities are made possible by powerful computers that are artificially networked in a manner similar to the neural networks in the human brain. The result is known as a deep neural network. Scene labeling transforms the camera from a simple measuring system into an interpretive system as versatile as the interaction between the human eye and brain. The tremendous increase in computing power in recent years is bringing us closer to the day when vehicles will be able to see their surroundings in the same way humans do, and are also able to correctly understand complex situations in city traffic. In other words, the vision of autonomous and accident-free driving is becoming more and more of a reality.

High-resolution LED headlights

The future E-Class opens up new dimensions in headlight technology. The model’s MULTIBEAM LED headlights are now equipped with 84 high-performance LEDS rather than the previous 24. This means the headlights in the new E-Class enable the resolution of the light pattern to be increased by a factor of 3.5. Other road users can therefore now be protected more precisely against blinding, and back-glare can be more effectively avoided as well. This new dimension of precision in light distribution makes it possible to use the partial high-beams longer, thereby increasing safety even further. Drivers also benefit from improved illumination of the road. The MULTIBEAM LED headlights have partial high-beam light output up to 2.5 times greater than that of most systems on the market today. The completely freely configurable high-resolution light distribution has made it possible for the first time to implement all high- and low-beam functions of the Intelligent Light System in an entirely digital mode in the new E-Class. As a world first, the dynamic cornering light function is now purely electronic. In addition, a broad range of new, adaptive light functions is possible, which will make driving at night and in inclement weather even safer for both the driver and other road users.

Environmental protection
Research and development