Image by B. Alter: F 800 Style Hybrid
Mercedes-Benz World is Disneyland for Benz lovers. It is three floors of vintage and new Mercedes, along with a cafe, shop, simulators and a test run. A dream come true for wanna-be Merc. drivers and owners.
So what is TreeHugger doing there? We came to hear Prof. Gorden Wagener, Vice President of Design for all of Mercedes talk about the Mercedes-Benz brand and how they keep it aspirational. We also came to see the prototype for the Mercedes hybrid electric car, the F 800 Style which should be out in 5 years and the Blue Zero which will be out in two.
Prof. Gorden Wagener, Vice President Design
Not everyone may believe that having an expensive car and keeping up with the luxurious life style of the rich is the be all and end all. However, it was fascinating to hear Prof. Wagener's analysis of how and why people do this and how Mercedes-Benz builds on it.
He was involved in developing all the current models as well as the McLaren. It's his job to develop "the brand" which is their luxury identity. It's quite an asset: now Mercedes is rated the 12th most precious brand in the world. And he believes it will continue to grow because in five years China will buy one third of the luxury products on the market, and they will be mainly European products. Mercedes intends to expand into helicopters, boats and furniture.
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He acknowledged that sustainability and the green trend are a part of the new luxury. Cars have to look efficient and in harmony with the environment or else they won't be admired by society; which is what luxury is all about. He said that in the future they will be selling refined sportiness which will make people feel attractive and youthful.
The iconic nature of the cars comes from their design; that is what drives the innovation. The proportions are important and all the details which make it luxurious such as the interiors, lights, and fittings.
Interior: F 800 Style
Prof. Wagener introduced the F 800 Style, their sustainable zero concept car, by emphasizing the natural and futuristic look of its shape with its aerodynamic swirling lines. The car will be out in the next 5 years and will be equivalent to the Mercedes "C" class which is their second smallest line. It will be wide and quite powerful, with a sporty silhouette. It seats five people. It's got that big Mercedes grill in the front. The doors slide, rather than open out. It will have LED head and tail lights. The price will be approximately £30,000.
The multi drive platform will allow for the use of alternative drive system: either Plug-in Hybrid or Fuel cell drive.
The Plug-in Hybrid will go up to 30 km. when it's on electric. When the gas kicks in, it will go from zero to 100 km/h in only 4.8 seconds, and its top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. According to the spec. "its drive unit consists of a V6 gasoline engine with an output of approximately 220 kW (300 hp) with next-generation direct injection and a hybrid module with an output of about 80 kW (109 hp) so that it delivers a total power of around 300 kW (409 hp)."
The Fuel-cell (F.Cell) electric has a range of 30 km and it can get from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 120 km/h.
Mercedes says the car has "a highly dynamic appearance, without making it seem aggressive. The sensually curved roof line underscores the exceptional aerodynamic quality of the coupe." One audience member noted that the car looked quite large for an electric car. It is 4.75 M long. The Mercedes representative responded that this was a prototype but they like their cars to be wide because it gives them a bigger stance on the road. It is wide because the tunnel for storing the hydrogen tanks is in the middle part.
The interior of the car is very luxurious, according to their drawings. It will have man-made leather seats and natural wood on the back of them, to evoke an Eames feeling. The roof is see-through but not solar.
For the gadget crowd there are some very cool things. The human-machine interface (HMI) records" video images of the user's hand so they see their hands glide across the touchscreen, allowing them to operate the functions of the current menu by applying a slight pressure." The DISTRONIC PLUS with Traffic Jam Assistant allows the car to drive itself in traffic jams (!). Apparently "at speeds of up to about 40 km/h, the system takes care of both longitudinal and transverse movements so that drivers do not have to steer themselves. The driver can just sit back and relax."
Mercedes believes that only 10 to 20% of cars will be electric in the future but since cities are growing, sales will too. The battery and the infrastructure are the issues, as in all electric cars. The fuel cell variant is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell for electric driving with zero local emissions. In Germany they are using hydrogen fuel cells but there are very few stations there to recharge.
The Blue ZERO is their lower priced electric hybrid car which will be out sooner. It is smaller and cheaper and will come out in 3 different combinations: electric car, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell. The electric is powered by a lithium battery and can go 124 miles on a single charge. The plug-in hybrid (BlueZERO F-Cell) uses a hydrogen fuel cell to create electric power. It has a range of 248 miles and generates no emissions except water. Finally, the hydrogen fuel cell (BlueZERO E-Cell PLUS) is a hybrid vehicle combining an electric phase with a combustion engine. It provides a range of 62 miles on electric power, augmented to 372 miles with the assistance of the turbo-charged 1 litre engine.
More on Mercedes-Benz' Electric Cars
Mercedes Unveils BlueZERO Trio of Electric Concept Cars
The Green Future of Mercedes -Benz