Obviously without wheels a vehicle is going nowhere – this simple observation not only describes the basic technical requirement for a properly functioning motor car, but also highlights the importance of the wheel as part of a powerful vehicle design.
At Mercedes-Benz, high-quality wheels which match the bodywork and form a logical continuation of the design therefore play a significant role in the high design standards of the overall vehicle. At the Mercedes-Benz design centre, light-alloy wheels available either as standard or as optional extras are designed by specialists in the area which is also responsible for creating the entire exterior form of the vehicle.
The heritage behind Mercedes-Benz wheel design
Basically all Mercedes-Benz wheels follow a specific design guideline which nevertheless gives sufficient scope for a wide variety of styles, such that individualisation options in this area are not limited. The characteristics of wheels bearing the Mercedes star primarily adhere to the principle of highlighting the vehicle design in the respective model families. To this end, the designers make particular use of sculptured, modelled areas with powerfully flowing lines, while pure, basic geometry is usually always avoided.
This can also lead to completely different design approaches being adopted within a model series. Take the S-Class as an example: most customers want elegant wheels, which can result in a delicate, multi-spoke design on the one hand, or a generously sized and less structured design on the other. Once on the vehicle, however, both solutions achieve the desired elegance. In contrast, SUV models and off-road vehicles always require striking, powerful, almost muscular wheels. For Roadsters and Coupés, the focus is squarely on sportiness. Among other things, the wheels look as big as possible thanks to maximum “connection with the outside”: for the most part the wheel spokes blend smoothly and seamlessly into the wheel rim flange. As a result, these models have a road stance which is powerful, almost crouching, ready for the off.
The development engineers define the design space which is available for the designers to work in. This leads to the creation of wheels which, thanks to their exceptional performance, support the high level of driving dynamics, excellent comfort and pioneering safety which are typical of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. By the same token, the designers can also work freely within the available space to come up with impressive wheel models which feature the customary high level of design quality.
A glimpse of the wheels of the future
Just like vehicle designers, wheel designers must also be able to look into the future, since due to the complex development process it can take some time before their designs actually appear on the market. But of course they are not able to use a crystal ball to help with their predictions. Research into the future and the recognition of trends is supported by Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios located throughout the world, intensive customer surveys, contact with dealerships, market research and specialist agencies. These investigations have resulted in the following specific basic principles:
• The trend towards larger wheels, mounted so that they are flush with the outer edge of the vehicle body, continues to apply in all vehicle classes. This style reflects power, dynamism and driving stability.
• In the future, Mercedes-Benz customers want even higher value wheels with elaborately processed surfaces and more sophisticated colour designs.
• Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-Benz Accessories will further expand the diversity of their product ranges from the current 130 wheel models in order to provide customers with even more individualisation options.
Source: Daimler AG