by Philipp Deppe | 31.Oktober 2014
Crosswind Assist is now also available as a retrofit solution for numerous variants of the Sprinter. The most important prerequisite: the vehicle must be fitted with the current version of Adaptive ESP, available since January 2012.
Almost all owners of vehicles built between 2012 and mid-2013 are therefore now able to retrofit this highly effective safety feature to their vehicle. The mid-2013 model change saw Crosswind Assist become part of the standard specification of all the most common Sprinter variants.
Mercedes-Benz dealerships will provide customers in their area with information about the specific options for and procedures involved in arranging professional retrofitting. In all cases retrofitting is an inexpensive solution that, in Germany for example, costs less than 200 euros, including installation.
Crosswind Assist is one of five new safety systems that last year saw the new Sprinter advance into a completely new dimension of safety technology in the van segment. Its sensors detect forces acting on the vehicle from buffeting crosswinds – be it on a bridge or when overtaking a truck. Through a brake actuation via ESP at the wheels of the vehicle side facing the wind, a yaw motion develops and counteracts the crosswind interference. The track offset is thus significantly reduced.
This results in tangible relief of strain for the driver. Their feeling of safety and comfort increases, and inappropriate driver reactions in gusts of wind are prevented. Via an indicator lamp in the instrument cluster the driver’s attention is also drawn to the system’s intervention. The Crosswind Assist is activated from a speed of 80 km/h. MORE »
High-tech pistons and ultra-high-strength CFRP technology: Double victory for Mercedes innovations at MATERIALICA 2014
by Philipp Deppe | 30.Oktober 2014
Mercedes-Benz innovations received two of the coveted “MATERIALICA Design and Technology Awards” judged by a panel of experts. The newly steel pistons, developed for passenger-car diesel engines, impressed in the category focused on the potential for reducing CO2 and delivering high performance.
The ultra-high-strength CFRP struts also won an award in its respective category focused innovative material usage. The CFRP struts can now be produced cost-effectively in larger volumes for the first time, thus opening up new possibilities in the field of lightweight construction. These awards underscore the leading role Mercedes-Benz Research and Development plays in terms of material innovations.
Steel pistons for passenger-car diesel engines
2 to 4 percent lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – an impressive overall performance from Mercedes-Benz passenger-car diesel engines which are the first engines worldwide being equipped with innovative steel pistons in conjunction with a lightweight aluminium cylinder case. The reduction in fuel consumption is even more pronounced at lower and mid-range engine speeds. These ranges play an important part in everyday driving. Mercedes-Benz received a MATERIALICA “Best of Award” for the innovative steel pistons in the category “CO2 Efficiency”.
At first glance, the combination of aluminium cylinders and steel pistons seems problematic: steel expands less than aluminium when heated; it conducts heat worse and is heavier than aluminium. These are the reasons why aluminium pistons have been used to date. Yet the Stuttgart MB engine designers have succeeded in turning these apparent disadvantages into advantages. For example, the lower expansion of steel as operating temperatures rise ensures increasing clearance between piston and aluminium housing. This reduces friction by 40 to 50 percent. At the same time, the fact that steel is stronger than aluminium allows very compact, lightweight pistons that even offer additional strength reserves. Finally, the lower thermal conductivity of steel leads to increased component temperatures, thus improving the thermodynamic efficiency with higher ignition performance and reduced burn time.
High-strength CFRP struts: extremely lightweight construction designed for mass production
All vehicle designers aim to produce a vehicle body that is as stiff as possible, since having a stiff body shell as a basis allows dynamic handling and also helps to minimise vibrations and noise. Fibre composites, particularly those that include carbon fibres, are ideal for ensuring maximum stiffness with minimum weight. Until now high costs have prevented their widespread use in vehicles.
However, a Mercedes-Benz innovation has changed all this. This innovation allows automatic, low-waste and therefore, cost-effective production of ultra-stiff and extremely light CFRP struts, making mass production possible. Mercedes-Benz received a MATERIALICA “Gold Awards” for this innovation in the category “Material”. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 29.Oktober 2014
Mercedes-Benz is proud to announce that Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP), Brixworth, has been awarded the coveted Dewar Trophy – renowned as the most prestigious award in British engineering – for its PU106A Hybrid Formula One Power Unit.
The Royal Automobile Club’s Dewar Trophy is only awarded in years when the Club’s expert committee believes that there are contenders of sufficient merit, with winners joining a remarkable line-up of automotive greats. In a year which marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Dewar, 120 years of motorsport success for Mercedes-Benz and the advent of a new technological era for Formula One, the award stands as a fitting tribute to a long and rich history of automotive innovation for the three-pointed star.
The team at HPP was recognised for its development of the most advantageous powertrain within the new Formula One regulations. The aim for 2014 was to raise the engine efficiency from around 29% for the previous normally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 to better than 40% with the new 1.6 litre V6 Hybrid turbo. The successful design, research and teamwork resulted in the Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid Power Unit, which has not only been the dominant powertrain in this first season under the Formula One rules, but is also one of the most thermally efficient gasoline powertrains ever produced.
For Mercedes-Benz, the association between hybrid technology and motorsport stretches back over a century, to the Mercedes Mixte race car of 1907. This employed a serial hybrid drive incorporating a gasoline engine and a dynamo that converted the energy of the engine into electric energy: subsequently supplying power to two wheel hub motors on the rear axle. 102 years later, the Mercedes-Benz KERS Hybrid system powered Lewis Hamilton to the first ever Hybrid Formula One victory at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. The lessons learned during this cutting-edge engineering have already benefited the passenger car industry, through projects such as the SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive and the latest range of Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, such as the S500 Plug-In Hybrid.
In the Dewar Trophy’s 108 year history there have only been 43 recipients – and only four from the Formula One industry. These include; G. A. Vandervell of Vanwall (1958) – winners of the first ever Formula One World Constructors’ Championship; Leonard Pelham Lee of Coventry Climax (1963) – creators of the Climax Formula One engine, which powered three of the first six Constructors’ Championship winners; and Keith Duckworth of Cosworth (1969) – the company behind the DFV engine, which won every race of the Formula One World Championship that season.
The fourth and most recent Dewar Trophy awarded to a member of the Formula One community prior to this year went to the team at Brixworth (then known as Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines, or HPE) for its pioneering work on the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) Hybrid unit that was introduced for the 2009 season. MORE »
Daimler accelerates along its course – strong growth in revenue, earnings and cash flow in third quarter
by Philipp Deppe | 28.Oktober 2014
Daimler AG provided impressive confirmation of its successful course in the third quarter of 2014 with strong growth in earnings as well as new record figures for unit sales and revenue. The Daimler Group sold a total of 637,400 cars and commercial vehicles worldwide, 7% more than in the third quarter of last year.
Mercedes-Benz Cars made a major contribution with the highest-ever quarterly unit sales in the company’s history. The Group’s third-quarter revenue of €33.1 billion was 10% above the prior-year level; adjusted for exchange-rate effects, revenue increased by 11%. Due to the favorable development of business in all divisions, EBIT from the ongoing business
improved to €2,787 million and was thus substantially higher than in the prior-year period (Q3 2013: €2,300 million). Net profit also increased significantly to €2,821 million compared with €1,897 million in the third quarter of last year.
“Our strategy is paying off. We are growing profitably and look to the future with optimism also beyond the full year,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “In all our divisions, both the product offensives and the efficiency programs are taking effect. We are confident that we will achieve the targets we have set on a sustained basis.”
Including special items, EBIT for the third quarter amounted to €3,732 million (Q3 2013: €2,231 million). In particular, the product mix at Mercedes-Benz Cars and the increasing impact of the efficiency measures that have been implemented at all divisions had a positive effect on operating profit. Foreign exchange rates had a slightly negative impact on earnings, however. The third quarter of 2014 was particularly influenced by the sale of the shares in Rolls-Royce Power Systems Holding GmbH (RRPSH). This resulted in a gain of €1,006 million, which is presented in the reconciliation.
The income-tax expense of €760 million is €585 million higher than in the third quarter of last year. In the third quarter of 2014, a gain was recognized on the sale of the RRPSH shares that was largely tax free. In the prior-year period, tax benefits related to the tax assessment of previous years led to the relatively low income-tax expense. Net profit of €86 million is attributable to non-controlling interest (Q3 2013: €61 million) and net profit of €2,735 million is attributable to the shareholders of Daimler AG (Q3 2013: €1,836 million); earnings per share therefore amount to €2.56 (Q3 2013: €1.72).
“Our business continued its very positive development in the third quarter. We therefore generated a substantially higher free cash flow in the industrial business than in the prior-year period, and have been able to increase our guidance significantly,” stated Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Finance & Controlling and Financial Services. “This is the result of the very good operative business of the various divisions.”
The net liquidity of the industrial business amounted to €17.9 billion at the end of the reporting period (end of 2013: €13.8 billion). Daimler’s industrial business generated a free cash flow of approximately €5.4 billion in the third quarter of 2014 (Q3 2013: approximately €1.6 billion). Excluding the effects of acquisitions and disposals of equity interests, the free cash flow of the industrial business amounted to approximately €2.9 billion in the third quarter (Q3 2013: approximately €1.6 billion).
At the end of the third quarter of 2014, Daimler employed 282,302 people worldwide (end of 2013: 274,616). Of that total, 170,417 were employed in Germany (end of 2013: 167,447). From today’s perspective, Daimler assumes that the number of employees worldwide will slightly increase compared with the end of 2013.
Details of the divisions
Unit sales by Mercedes-Benz Cars increased by 9% to 431,000 vehicles in the third quarter of 2014; this means that the period under review was the quarter with the highest unit sales in the company’s history. The growth driver in Western Europe was the United Kingdom with an increase of 18%. In the United States, the biggest sales market, the division also set a new record with sales of 84,100 units (+5%). In China, Mercedes-Benz Cars continued along its successful path and increased its unit sales by 18% to 76,200 vehicles. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 27.Oktober 2014
The new B-Class, which has just been presented to international journalists, comes with COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS as standard. Accident researchers at Mercedes-Benz anticipate that this feature could cut the number of serious rear-end collisions by up to 30 percent compared with vehicles that do not have a corresponding protective system. For their prognosis, the safety experts used figures from Germany’s Federal Statistical Office to assess how effective standard-fit COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST has been in the B-Class to date and simulated digital accident data.
The official figures show that the number of serious rear-end collisions with Mercedes-Benz B-Class vehicles has gone down by 14 percent in Germany by comparison with the predecessor model. Since its market launch in 2011, the present B-Class has been equipped with COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST as standard. This safety system includes a radar-based, visual distance warning signal, an additional audible collision warning and selective brake boost courtesy of Adaptive Brake Assist. It is standard equipment for all vehicles in the new generation of compact cars (A-Class, B-Class, CLA-Class and GLA-Class), as well as many other vehicles from Mercedes-Benz.
Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development: “The decrease in the number of accidents provides further confirmation of our ‘real life safety’ strategy. We are bringing innovations into the car that genuinely benefit customers and road safety.”
This is substantiated by figures from Mercedes-Benz service outlets: by comparison with the previous model, the present B-Class has experienced much less serious damage to the front end when the front cross member needed to be replaced. The severity of many rear-end collisions was therefore reduced, and in some cases they were avoided entirely.
In a study, accident researchers at Mercedes-Benz came to the conclusion that up to 20 percent of all serious rear-end collisions in Germany could be prevented if all vehicles were fitted with an equivalent safety system. Their claim is based on a simulation study using a pre-crash matrix – a digital accident database from the Traffic Accident Research Institute in Dresden containing thousands of carefully reconstructed, real-life accidents. As part of this study, vehicles were equipped virtually with COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST and its effects on each rear-end collision were examined.
For the enhanced successor system, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, which is set to be rolled out across all model series, the accident researchers are forecasting up to 30 percent fewer serious rear-end collisions than without the system. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 26.Oktober 2014
Shunting operations on the rails with environmentally-friendly truck engines and further improved traction – the new road-rail Unimog is the perfect answer.
At Innotrans in Berlin, the world’s leading trade fair for the rail transport sector, the first of the new Unimog generation was handed over to Sasol Germany GmbH in Brunsbüttel. The company with a workforce of approximately 600 does the bulk of its logistics by rail. The U 423 Unimog will man oeuvre tank wagons, alongside the road-rail Unimog U 400 which Sasol has been using for the last ten years.
Good environmental track record in shunting operations
By making this investment, Sasol, a manufacturer of fatty alcohols and their derivates, and highly purified clay, is sending out a positive signal. With the Unimog, the tough on-road emissions standards are extended from the road to the rails. This means the Euro VI engines for trucks reduce diesel particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90 percent compared with Euro V, and in comparison with 1990, emissions from commercial vehicles have been lowered by between 88 percent and 98 percent. Also, the increased engine efficiency, which enables considerable fuel savings, improves the environmental balance even further. Furthermore, the acquisition cost of the Unimog for shunting operations is far lower than that of a shunting locomotive, and the running costs are low. The engine output of the Unimog U 423 is 170 kW (231 hp). The new generation of Unimog implement carriers with Euro VI engines was presented in 2013.
Safe lane keeping and powerful braking system
The Unimog U 423 which has now been handed over to the customer has a lane keeping system with CAN bus safety control newly developed by body manufacturer Zagro. This ensures safe lane keeping and conforms to the latest safety regulations. The control unit communicates with the CAN bus of the base vehicle. The railway wagon braking system of the shunting vehicle is driven by the Unimog’s engine power take-off and, with a delivery output of 1750 l/min with a 425 litre air reservoir volume, guarantees that the coupled wagons fill quickly. The Unimog U 423 with 3000 mm wheelbase has a GVW of 13,000 kg. When shunting, a Unimog can tow a load of up to 1000 t. Its huge towing capacity with a comparatively low vehicle weight is achieved thanks to the Unimog’s favourable friction coefficient between rubber and steel. The compact axle dimensions ensure that the road-rail Unimog does not need a separate rail gear. The torque-converter clutch available ex factory increases the engine pull-away torque, thus enabling smooth towing without wear and tear to the clutch. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 25.Oktober 2014
The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team is pleased to confirm the extension of its team partnership agreement with Starwood Preferred Guest, the award-winning loyalty program me from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
This unique partnership began in 2012 and the two-year extension will allow Starwood to continue to offer its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members unique access to Formula One experiences with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS in destinations around the world. The brand is also the preferred hotel partner for the team, who stay at its resorts in locations such as Barcelona, Monaco, Singapore, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
The free-to-join SPG programme allows members to register for their chance to redeem their Starpoints for ‘Access Like No Other’ Experiences which offer unparalleled access to the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team. To date, these experiences have ranged from exclusive events with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Starwood Hotels over the race weekends, to simulator and behind-the-scenes experiences at the team’s Operations Centre in Brackley, UK. Such experiences have proved highly popular, with a 250 percent growth in SPG members redeeming their points to participate since the launch of the partnership in 2012.
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, commented: “We are delighted to have extended our partnership with Starwood Preferred Guest for a further two years. Not only have our team enjoyed the benefits of staying in some wonderful Starwood properties as we follow the Formula One calendar around the globe but we can see the tangible benefits reflected in the excitement and enthusiasm of the SPG members who join us over the race weekends for their exclusive experiences. Knowing that our association with SPG has helped to drive the success of their membership program me is very satisfying and we look forward to more successful seasons together.” MORE »
Import Car of the Year Japan 2014-2015: Mercedes-Benz C-Class honoured as the best import vehicle in Japan
by Philipp Deppe | 24.Oktober 2014
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor models, the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been voted Japan’s best import car. With this achievement the mid-range series saloon continues an impressive winning tradition.
The four predecessor generations of the C-Class already held the title of “Import Car of the Year Japan“. For 2014-2015, the jury composed primarily of Japanese motoring journalists decided in favour of the C-Class that celebrated its world début last year. The jury based its choice in particular on the fact that the C-Class has realised quantum leaps in technology and has made sophisticated radar-based safety technology available, for example. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 23.Oktober 2014
Around 3000 charging points, 230 operators, countless charge cards and payment systems – anyone wanting to charge their electric car while out and about has to be well prepared these days.
To help make everything more convenient in the future, Mercedes-Benz is now offering “Charge&Pay for Mercedes-Benz”. This app allows Mercedes-Benz and smart customers to find available charging stations and manage the whole charging and payment process. Payment is made simply and transparently using PayPal. “Charge&Pay for Mercedes-Benz” does not involve any binding contracts or regular fees. The app can be downloaded free of charge for the iOS and Android operating systems from December 2014.
On 5 August 1888, when Bertha Benz ran out of fuel on her journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim, Willi Ockel, the pharmacist in Wiesloch, helped out with two litres of ligarine. Today, 128 years after the automobile was invented, refuelling is much easier. At least for those whose cars run on petrol or diesel. Drivers of electric cars still sometimes feel like pioneers when charging their cars out and about. Not only do they have to find an available charging station – they also have to register with the various station operators in order to be able to use any public charging station. Registration is often complicated, and the payment process is not always transparent.
But now, charging your car using the public infrastructure is set to become as easy as using a ticket dispensing machine – and what makes it even more convenient is that “Charge&Pay for Mercedes-Benz” allows you to charge your electric car or hybrid regardless of the charging station operator. The app, developed in cooperation with Bosch Software Innovations GmbH, shows the location of available charging stations in your vicinity. Before you charge your car, the app shows the price at the station in question, and customers can conveniently verify their identity using their smartphones. Every charging process is paid for automatically using PayPal. Another advantage is that using “Charge&Pay for Mercedes-Benz” allows you to be completely flexible. Instead of entering into contracts with a number of different charging station operators, often involving fixed terms and regular fees, customers using the new app benefit from the convenience of a single solution that works with all providers – one that can be used anywhere, anytime via your smartphone, with no binding contracts and no fixed costs.
The app offers access to almost the entire remote-compatible (i.e. accessible via smartphone) public charging infrastructure in Germany. Other European markets are set to be added one by one. Mercedes-Benz is also planning to make it possible to reserve charging stations as part of the next phase of development. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 22.Oktober 2014
Daimler AG (stock exchange symbol: DAI) has reorganized its cooperation with Tesla Motors Inc. In this context, Daimler has terminated the share-price hedge it initiated in 2013 and has sold its stake in Tesla of approximately 4%. The cooperation between the partners on the automotive projects is unaffected. Development work for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is completed, the partnership with Tesla remains in place.
“We pursue our strategy for emission-free driving consequently. Electric vehicles are one component of this roadmap. In Tesla we do have a bold partner. Together we launched the B-class Electric Drive successfully in the United States this summer. In November, the B-Class Electric Drive will be launched in Europe as well. We are convinced that this powerful electric vehicle for every day use will appeal to a lot of customers,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Furthermore, the batteries for the first generation of the smart fortwo electric drive had been from Tesla. The two-seater with electric drive is one of the best-selling electric cars in Germany. “Our partnership with Tesla is very successful and will be continued”, added Zetsche.
Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Finance & Controlling and Financial Services: “We are extremely satisfied with the development of our investment in Tesla, but it is not necessary for our partnership and cooperation. For this reason, we have decided to divest of our shares. This will also allow Tesla to broaden its investor base.”
The sale of Daimler’s stake in Tesla will result in a cash inflow of around$780 million, which will be used to strengthen Daimler’s operational business. The impact on EBIT for the year 2014 is approximately in the same amount.
“We have supported Tesla as a startup company for many years and have learned a lot from Tesla. At the same time, Tesla was able to profit from our automotive expertise. The cooperation with Tesla is one component of our activities in the field of electric mobility. It optimally complements our involvement in Deutsche ACCUmotive,” explained Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
Daimler has the industry’s biggest portfolio of electric vehicles, from cars and vans to buses and light trucks: smart electric drive, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL, B-Class Electric Drive, B-Class F-CELL, SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive, Vito E-CELL, Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid, Fuso Canter E-CELL and Freightliner Custom Chassis MT E-CELL All-Electric. Systematic hybridization is also a fixed element of Daimler’s powertrain strategy. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz sold more automobiles with hybrid drive than all other German manufacturers combined. The focus will continue to be on plug-in hybrids in the coming years. By the year 2017, Mercedes-Benz Cars will launch ten new plug-in hybrid models in all market segments. MORE »
Mercedes-Benz Vans lays groundwork for long-term production strategy for the next generation of the Sprinter
by Philipp Deppe | 21.Oktober 2014
Mercedes-Benz Vans has finalized its long-term strategy for the production of the successor model of the Sprinter. As the only manufacturer in the segment of large vans that is producing vehicles in Germany, Mercedes-Benz Vans will assemble the next generation of the Sprinter at its plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde.
For this purpose, Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest a total of €450 million in the modernization of the two German plants . “Our plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde have a highly skilled workforce that has built up a comprehensive stock of van production know-how over a period of several decades. That’s why we are putting these two plants at the center of our production strategy for the next generation of the Sprinter as well. Through investments of almost half a billion euros, we will safeguard the long-term competitiveness of our German plants and make them fit for the fierce global competition in this segment,” says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest €300 million in the Düsseldorf plant, specifically to modernize the body shop, the paint shop, and the assembly line. The closed models of the Sprinter have been produced here since 1995. In addition, the Düsseldorf plant, which is the leading plant for worldwide Sprinter production, will play an even more central role in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Vans in the future.
“The substantial investments in the modernization of our plant and its expansion into a worldwide center of competence for the Sprinter represents a clear commitment to our location and a significant boost for the long-term development of Mercedes-Benz Vans in Düsseldorf,” says Martin Kelterer, Plant Director and Head of Production at the Düsseldorf Mercedes-Benz plant.
Extensive investments are also flowing into the plant in Ludwigsfelde, where the open models of the Sprinter have been produced since 2006.
“We’re glad that the next generation of the Sprinter will also be rolling off the assembly line in Ludwigsfelde and that the investment of €150 million will safeguard the long-term competitiveness of our plant,” says Michael Bauer, the Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Ludwigsfelde GmbH.
Establishment of local Sprinter production in the NAFTA region is necessary
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has been a success story in the van business for almost 20 years now. It is the worldwide market leader in the large van segment and is delivered to customers in about 130 countries all over the globe. This makes the Sprinter a key pillar of the worldwide growth strategy “Vans goes global,” which aims to systematically internationalize the division’s business operations and exploit additional sales potential in the growth markets outside Europe. The U.S. is now the Sprinter’s second-largest sales market after Germany. About 23,000 Sprinter vans were delivered to U.S. customers in 2013. As part of its growth strategy, Mercedes-Benz Vans has set itself the goal of more effectively benefiting from the high growth rates of the North American market in the large van segment.
Because of the high import tariffs, the Sprinters for the U.S. market have so far been produced at the two German plants, partly dismantled in a time-consuming process, and reassembled at the plant in Charleston, South Carolina. This process results in a significant competitive disadvantage on the U.S. market for Mercedes-Benz, since it leads to long delivery times, makes the vehicle more expensive for U.S. customers, and is therefore not economical in the long term in view of the expected growth in demand. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 20.Oktober 2014
Highly efficient assembly and logistics processes and suppliers directly located on the plant’s premises as system partners: the smart plant in Hambach, France, has stood for the success story of an innovative, particularly lean production concept since the decision was made in 1994 to build the plant.
In its domain, it has set standards in the automotive industry and continues to do so. Around 1.6 million smart fortwo vehicles have rolled off the plant’s production line until today. With investments of around 200 million euros for the production of the new generation of the two-seater, the plant has continued to develop the original production concept with state-of-the-art technologies and further increased production flexibility.
Around 20 years ago, the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board of the former Daimler-Benz AG made one of the most important decisions in the foundation of smart: On completion of an extensive selection process, Hambach in the French region of Lorraine was chosen as the production site. Until today, around 1.6 million smart for two vehicles have rolled off the plant’s production line; the new smart fortwo has been produced since July 2014.
Dr. Annette Winkler, head of smart: “The history of smart is inseparably linked to our Hambach site. From production of the very first vehicle up to the all-new smart fortwo: our team here has made a very significant contribution to put our success story on the road by the millions. And now, as a new era begins with the new smart generation, smartville is one of the key success factors of our brand.”
“Just like the new smart generation continues to embody the core features of the original smart, we have also maintained the core of our production philosophy which was revolutionary at that time”, says Dr. Joachim Betker, who had already been part of the team as a young engineer at the time of the plant’s grand opening in 1997, and who returned to Hambach as plant manager in 2011 after various assignments in the Daimler group.
“Our production concept is based on the smart team’s overall coordination of the site with responsibility for the final product, and at the same time the cooperation with specialized suppliers and service providers – the so-called system partners – in numerous areas”, Betker points out.
‘smartville': innovative, particularly lean manufacturing concept
An aerial view explains why the Hambach site is also referred to as ‘smartville': centrally located within the industry complex with a total size of 68 hectares – of which 17.5 hectares built-up area – is the smart central building. It is surrounded by separate halls for the system partners and their production of components, pre-assembly of modules or provision of logistics services.
The central building, shaped like a plus sign, houses the final assembly: a band-conveyor carries the vehicles through each of the building’s four branches with the respective assembly stations. Thanks to the long exterior walls of these branches, all modules and parts can immediately be provided at the stations for assembly, exactly at the appropriate time (‘just in time’) and in the correct order (‘just in sequence’) for each individual vehicle. The system partners deliver directly via transportation bridges, further materials are supplied via the many truck docking stations. In the middle of the plus sign are further floors in which the plant’s administrative functions are located. An octagonal, roofed inner courtyard allows constant eye contact with production. The canteen on the top floor is available to all staff at smartville, serving as a daily point of contact for the smart team and the employees of the system partners. MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 19.Oktober 2014
The 30th anniversary DTM season ended with a home race for Mercedes-Benz on Sunday at Hockenheim in front of 155,000 spectators, who came through the gates during the weekend.
At the end-of–season finale of the internationally popular touring car series, Mercedes-Benz driver Paul Di Resta (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) crossed the finish line in P4 with a deficit of two tenths of a second on Jamie Green (Audi) in third place. During the race, he moved six positions up the field from tenth on the grid to finish fourth. Audi’s Mattias Ekström won the race.
Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) placed tenth in the final race of the season. Christian Vietoris (Original-Teile Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) was 15th. Robert Wickens (FREE MAN’S WORLD Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) booked P17.
Daniel Juncadella (Petronas Mercedes AMG C-Coupé), Pascal Wehrlein (gooix Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) and Vitaly Petrov (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé) retired just before the end of the race. They were placed 18th, 20th and 21st respectively.
Paul Di Resta (28, Scotland, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 4th
“That was a positive day for me. We had a decent weekend and didn’t make any mistakes except in qualifying. I gained a few places at the start but lost some time at the beginning of the race. Perhaps what I lost would have been enough to see me overtake Jamie at the end. When you think how we were doing at the start of the season, we’ve improved considerably. All the guys have done a brilliant job, for which I would like to especially thank them. The long nights spent working have paid off. We can go into the winter break with a positive result, but the new season actually starts tomorrow for us.”
Gary Paffett (33, England, EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 10th
“I made a great start and gained a few positions. Then I got hit off the track three times on the first lap which put me at the back of the field. I was having a good battle through the race but I lost two places at the pit stop because we pitted one lap later than the other guys. In the end, all the places we lost on the first lap cost us some points. Apart from the first lap, racing was okay today.”
Christian Vietoris (25, Germany, Original-Teile Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 14th
“That was a tough weekend. We took Edoardo Mortara as our benchmark. Things didn’t go well for him either – we both failed to finish in the points. Mike Rockenfeller ultimately caught us in the overall standings. Too bad!”
Robert Wickens (25, Canada, FREE MAN’S WORLD Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 17th (including a post-race penalty)
“I got off to a good start and was up to P8 by the end of the first lap. I think I was third best of all the people starting on primes. So, everything was going well but unfortunately I wasn’t really happy with the car. I had a lot of understeer after struggling with the same issue in qualifying. Unfortunately, under parc fermé conditions, you have to race the car you had in qualifying. It was a tough race. But Paul did a good job finishing in P4.” MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 18.Oktober 2014
The DTM is staging the grand finale of its 30th anniversary season this weekend. Pascal Wehrlein (gooix Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:33.483 minutes) will line up in sixth position for the tenth and final round of the 2014 season, which is a home race for Mercedes-Benz.
In the final DTM qualifying of the year, Paul Di Resta (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:33.468 minutes) booked P10 on the grid. Fellow Mercedes-Benz driver Robert Wickens (FREE MAN’S WORLD Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:33.525 minutes) finished the qualifying in P12. Gary Paffett (EURONICS Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:33.708 minutes) came home in P16. Daniel Juncadella (Petronas Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:33.721 minutes) took P17.
Christian Vietoris (Original-Teile Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:34.066 minutes) and Vitaly Petrov (DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé / 1:34.443 minutes) qualified in P22 and P23 respectively for the final race of the season.
Looking ahead to the race: The final race of the 2014 season gets under way on Sunday at 2:00 pm (live on ARD, from 1:30 pm onwards). The race is staged over 42 laps, equating to a total distance of 192.108 km. Audi driver Miguel Molina (1:33.316 minutes) will start the race from pole position.
Comments after Qualifying
Pascal Wehrlein (19, Germany, gooix Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 6th, (1:33.483)
“In the circumstances, P6 is a respectable result for us. It’s perhaps not the outcome that we had expected, but we can achieve a lot from this position on the grid. We had some difficulties in free practice, but that’s fairly standard if you’ve brought along new parts and you’ve not had a lot of time to try them out. We’ve improved the car since this morning. We’re expecting a tough race tomorrow, but I’ll be going all out on the attack in this last race of the season.”
Paul Di Resta (28, Scotland, DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 10th, (1:33.468)
“I’m reasonably satisfied with my result. It’s a little bit frustrating. We were in good shape for Q3. We had two sets of tyres left over thanks to our speed in Q1. We’ve got a very good setup and I’m very confident with where the car is. Hopefully we can put something together tomorrow for a strong race.”
Robert Wickens (25, Canada, FREE MAN’S WORLD Mercedes AMG C-Coupé): 12th, (1:33.525)
“It was not a good qualifying but also not a bad one. It could have been better, though. Q1 was pretty standard. I was happy to go through to Q2. Unfortunately, we then had a small problem with the car on the first run in Q2. We had to stop the run and switch immediately to the second set of new tyres. I just didn’t do a good enough lap. I couldn’t really prepare for the lap because of the problem we had on the first run. I went in a bit blind. Starting twelfth tomorrow is better than I’ve started in the last two races, and I scored points in both of them. Hopefully, we can score points and finish the year on a good note.” MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 17.Oktober 2014
The market launch of the new smart generation on 22 November 2014 brings the new era in the history of the smart brand to the roads and cities.
The international brand campaign entitled “FOR” has already conveyed emotionally how the brand sets itself apart from the competition: smart embodies the attitude of being FOR something and creates more urban joie de vivre. This attitude is now consistently continued in the two product campaigns. The campaign for the smart fortwo positions the vehicle as being “The urban original”. The campaign for the new smart forfour also continues the umbrella idea “FOR” and demonstrates the distinctive feature of the smart forfour as being “the smart among the four-seaters”. The international campaigns supply content for all communication channels, from print media and TV to online and social media.
“FOR sums up the unique quality of smart in just three letters. The brand, the smart drivers, and especially the employees stand for a new concept of mobility: more colour and joie de vivre, more room and clever solutions, more safety and driving fun in the city. We embrace this fundamental attitude in our communication with colorful, creative and varied elements – and with our new for two and forfour from November we will also put this concept on the road more emphatically than ever before,” remarks smart boss Dr Annette Winkler.
The product campaigns commence the second and third parts of the international launch communication for the new smart generation and are a seamless continuation of the “FOR” communication.
With the three messages
“FOR being a pioneer.”, “FOR loving the city even more.” and “FOR challenging the status quo.”, the commercial (http://youtu.be/0IGTAOmqCNg) shows that the brand and product values go hand in hand. In addition to a 30-second version, three commercials each lasting 15 seconds were made to convey these messages.
The TV commercial for the smart forfour focuses on the fact that this vehicle has been built to meet the demands of the city better than any other four-seater. Five commercials will be shown, lasting 60, 30 and 15 seconds.
The eye-catching print motifs for the smart fortwo have a new, dynamic and colourful look & feel, showing an iconic image of the car. The print communication will be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, the smart fortwo will be positioned as “The urban original” with the three messages “FOR being a pioneer.”, “FOR loving the city even more.” and “FOR challenging the status quo.”. By contrast, the motifs in the second phase will focus on individual features that make the smart fortwo unique and new. The topics range from the exterior (“FOR a colorful city.”) and interior design (“FOR more beauty inside.”) to the turning circle (“FOR rushing through rush hour.”) and packability (“FOR fitting in every gap.”) as well as agility (“FOR more punch per inch.”) and safety (“FOR more safety on streets and seats.”). MORE »
by Philipp Deppe | 16.Oktober 2014
One man, one G, one life’s work. That sums up the essence of an unprecedented global adventure. When Gunther Holtorf and his wife Christine set out in their Mercedes-Benz 300 GD to visit as many of the countries around the world as possible, the G-Class was just ten years old. Today, some 26 years, just under 900,000 kilometres, and 215 visited countries later, Gunther Holtorf drove his cherished G – christened ‘Otto’ – back home to Swabia.
The marathon vehicle will take pride of place in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, where it will go on show to visitors in the Classic Cars section from 21 October. As a world-record holder, ‘Otto’ will also be immortalised in the Guinness World Records. Since the finish of this unique journey around the world will coincide with the 35th anniversary of the G-Class, the occasion will be marked with the launch of the highly exclusive G 350 BlueTEC Edition 35 and G 500 Edition 35 special models.
When the vehicle was officially handed over to the Mercedes-Benz Museum, Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, was equally impressed by the driver and the vehicle. “I promise that there will still be a G-Class in the future. Will there be more characters of Mr Holtorf’s ilk in the future? I hope so,” said Dr Zetsche.
For 77-year-old Gunther Holtorf, his Mercedes-Benz 300 GD, which his wife Christine affectionately christened ‘Otto’, is quite simply the expedition vehicle par excellence for this kind of (torturous) tour. “In 1988, when I bought the car I was a bit more sceptical about the promise made by Mercedes-Benz, namely “Where there’s a G, there’s a way”. After all, I’d already seen something of the world beforehand and had a rough idea of what the vehicle would have to endure on this kind of world tour!” This initial scepticism gave way though to an unreserved trust in Otto’s capabilities as the years went by. Especially in precarious situations, the symbiosis between the Holtorfs and the G-Class grew.
Earth – Moon – Earth plus 80,000 km under gruelling conditions
The 300 GD covered over 250,000 of the just under 900,000 kilometres off-road, perfectly in tune with its innate characteristics. On gravel or washboard roads, in mud, on pot-holed roads or rocky uphill stretches in the mountains – for the suspension and chassis this punishing workout is equivalent to around 2.5 million kilometres under normal central European conditions. In addition to the challenging terrain there were also the disparate meteorological conditions to contend with, which ‘Otto’ took in its stride throughout all the world’s climate zones – from the unforgiving searing heat of the desert, through steaming jungle regions to the freezing cold of the Arctic climes. As if the demands on the 300 GD were not already high enough, ‘Otto’ actually always had to contend with overweight. Including expedition gear and food, with jerry cans, operating supplies, tools, recovery gear, spare parts and spare wheels, the expedition vehicle fully tipped the scales at 3.3 tonnes – around 500 kilograms in excess of the permissible gross vehicle weight. The roof alone of the cross-country vehicle had to take 400 kilograms. But according to the Holtorfs even that could not faze the world record vehicle: “Actually the G was always overladen, which is why I fitted it with reinforced springs and bad-road shock absorbers. Otherwise, ‘Otto’ remains like any series-production vehicle. The entire drivetrain with the engine, transmission and axles is still original. Neither the frame nor the body have shown any signs of fatigue.” MORE »