Innovation and safety

Innovations for the mobility of the future

The greatest possible customer utility, the most stringent safety standards, high levels of environmental compatibility and efficiency — we rely on innovative concepts and environmentally sound product development to help us achieve all of these goals simultaneously. Our innovations range from pioneering vehicle and drive-system technologies to intelligent lightweight engineering concepts and sophisticated assistance systems that can prevent accidents.

CASE — these four letters stand for the future-oriented strategic fields of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use and services (Shared & Services), and electric drive systems (Electric). We are moving ahead consistently in all of these areas at all of our divisions, and we are also linking them in an intelligent way to create a comprehensive target concept for our vehicles, services and business models. In this manner, we are underlining our claim to play a dominant role in the mobility of the future. The projects presented on the following pages are specific examples of a large number of activities that show how Daimler is already playing a leading role today in the development of solutions for the mobility of tomorrow.

Our “road to emission-free driving”

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 to achieve further significantly reductions in 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 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 multiple 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 view emissions as a holistic issue and are therefore examining ways to reduce other types of emissions besides pollutants — e.g. noise.

In 2016 in particular, we made considerable progress in terms of the road to emission-free driving. This is especially true with regard to our diesel and gasoline engines. We believe that over the medium term, 15 % to 25 % of all our new cars will be all-electric models. However, this also means that combustion engines will continue to form the backbone of individual mobility well into the next decade. This is one of the main reasons why we continue to invest heavily in the optimization of combustion engine technology, and in this way we are making a key contribution toward reducing fuel consumption and emissions even further. At the same time, we launched a broad-based electric mobility offensive at all of our divisions during the year under review. With it, we are employing a holistic approach that includes both the electric vehicles themselves and all the services needed for electric mobility.

Outstanding efficiency and emissions: the new diesel engines

TThe exemplary efficiency and emissions of our new premium diesel engine already meet all of the known emission standards, while underlining the key role to be played by diesel drive systems in achieving challenging climate targets. The outstanding fuel efficiency and emissions of the new diesel engines were achieved with an integrated technological approach that includes a new graduated bowl combustion system and a newly developed exhaust aftertreatment concept. The new engine design makes it possible to install all exhaust aftertreatment components in the direct vicinity of the engine rather than in the underbody area, as was previously the case. This has led to a significant improvement in overall system performance — and this performance is almost completely independent of ambient temperatures and driving styles. In its 143 kW version, the first all-aluminum four-cylinder diesel engine from Mercedes-Benz weighs 168.4 kg. That is 35.4 kg (17 percent) less than the 125 kW predecessor — and a new benchmark in the engine’s output class. If instead of the DIN weight, one compares the ready-to-run engine with all its auxiliary assemblies, the weight reduction amounts to 46 kg, which translates into clear benefits in terms of agility and fuel consumption.

More economical and powerful, more lightweight and compact - the new OM 654 diesel engine

The all-new OM 654 four-cylinder diesel engine had its market launch in the new E-Class. The Mercedes-Benz E 220 d (fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 4.7–4.3, extra-urban 4.1–3.6, combined 4.3–3.9; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 112-102) thus consumes much less fuel than the predecessor model, despite its higher performance. However, the new diesel engine family stands out not just by virtue of its excellent fuel economy; it also boasts very low nitrogen-oxide emissions. This was also confirmed by measurements conducted by the independent DEKRA testing organization.

Biggest engine offensive in the history of Mercedes-Benz

The new four-cylinder diesel engine is the first member of a modular engine family that will be utilized across the entire product range of Mercedes-Benz Cars and also at Mercedes-Benz Vans. Several different output ratings are planned for the engine, which will be installed either longitudinally or transversely in vehicles with front, rear or all-wheel drive. In this manner, Mercedes-Benz will equip its entire range of diesel cars in Europe with this new engine generation by 2019 at the latest. Next year will see the debut of another four members of the all-new engine family: an in-line six-cylinder engine in a diesel and a gasoline variant, a new four-cylinder gasoline engine and a new biturbo V8. Forward-looking new technologies such as the integrated starter-generator (ISG), the 48-volt on-board power system and the electric auxiliary compressor will also have their world premieres next year.

Comprehensive electric-mobility offensive for cars and commercial vehicles

Daimler launched a broad-based electric mobility offensive at all of its divisions during the year under review. The models include new plug-in hybrids from Mercedes-Benz Cars, new electric smart models, the DENZA 400, which we developed with our partner BYD for the Chinese market, the new FUSO eCanter and a completely new fuel-cell vehicle based on the GLC with plug-in technology. The electric mobility offensive also includes the three concept vehicles Concept EQ, the heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck and the Mercedes-Benz Vision Van, all of which offer a very detailed preview of electric mobility in the future. (See electric)

For the electrification of the drivetrain, we are employing a holistic approach that includes both the electric vehicles themselves and all the services needed for electric mobility. The latter range from intelligent services to energy-storage units for private and commercial customers, charging technologies (e.g. inductive charging) and sustainable recycling solutions. In order to meet the rising demand for top-quality high-voltage batteries, Daimler is also investing a total of approximately €1 billion in the establishment of a global battery production network.

Ten plug-in hybrid cars by 2017

The major benefit of plug-in hybrid vehicles is that they combine the best aspects of combustion engines and electric drive. Hybrids help reduce overall consumption and increase performance, as the electric motor is used to take over from or support the combustion engine in situations where the latter is less efficient. In addition, our plug-in hybrids are equipped with a powerful battery that enables an all-electric range of approximately 30 km. The updated S-Class with hybrid drive, which will be launched in the spring of 2017, actually has an all-electric range of around 50 km, and we plan to increase that range to as much as 100 km over the medium term. This will enable our customers to drive locally emission-free to a very large extent in everyday situations. In such a setup, the combustion engine is used for longer distances; this guarantees that our plug-in hybrids will be perfect for any driving requirement. We believe that plug-in hybrid technology will be extremely successful as we move into the next decade, and that is why hybridization is a key component of our drive-system strategy. We will present a total of ten plug-in hybrid models by the end of 2017.

We launched three new plug-in hybrid models in 2016. One of them is the Mercedes-Benz E 350 e (fuel consumption in l/100 km: combined 2.1; CO2 emissions in g/km: combined 49; electricity consumption in kWh/100 km: combined 11.5). With a system output of 210 kW (286 hp), this plug-in hybrid offers the performance of a sports car and the certified fuel consumption of a subcompact.

EQ — a new brand for electric mobility

Mercedes-Benz has consolidated all of its activities in the area of electric mobility into a new product brand known as EQ. EQ stands for Electric Intelligence, which in turn is derived from the Mercedes-Benz brand values of Emotion and Intelligence. The new brand addresses all aspects of customer-focused electric mobility and therefore involves much more than just the vehicles themselves: EQ offers a comprehensive electric-mobility ecosystem of products, services, technologies and innovations. The new brand is heralded by the near-production Concept EQ, which had its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show in 2016. (See It´s electric!)

The first series-produced EQ model will be launched in the SUV segment before the end of the decade. It will be followed by a model offensive that will gradually expand the product range of Mercedes-Benz Cars to include even more electric models. By 2025, Daimler will be offering more than ten all-electric models in the passenger-car segment alone.

With the Concept EQ, Mercedes Benz has demonstrated that attractive electric vehicles delivering high performance might soon be a very common sight on streets and highways. The Concept EQ looks like a sporty SUV coupe and points the way forward to an all-new generation of battery-electric vehicles. These new electric vehicles will be based on an architecture developed especially for battery-electric models. This architecture is scalable in every respect and can be used in all model series, including all types of car such as SUVs, sedans and coupes.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision Van: intelligent, connected and electric

The Mercedes-Benz Vans division presented its all-electric Vision Van in September 2016. This forward-looking concept van features numerous innovative solutions for parcel deliveries in urban and suburban settings. The Vision Van is the world’s first van that digitally links all participants and processes in the delivery chain from start to finish — from the goods distribution center to the recipient. It is also the first van with a fully automatic cargo area and integrated delivery drones. This means, for example, that in the future, the van will be able to stop in a residential area and use the drones for automatic air deliveries even as the driver makes deliveries by hand in the immediate vicinity. This will simplify operations for delivery companies, reduce transport times and create entirely new possibilities for end customers. All in all, use of the Vision Van can increase the efficiency of last-mile delivery operations by as much as 50 %. (See connected)

World premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Vision Van Research Vehicle

We believe that the future of urban delivery operations will largely be an electric one, because the overall framework for electric mobility and the associated technological possibilities are continually improving. For this reason, Mercedes-Benz Vans has decided to once again launch series production of an electric commercial van in 2018 after having introduced the world’s first all-electric production van — the Vito E-CELL — back in 2011. The fully electric drive system will be developed by the division in line with specific applications and the exact requirements of customers that provide delivery services in urban areas. Various battery charging systems and battery sizes will thus be offered in order to accommodate different customer requirements. In some applications, the van’s electric drive system will result in operating costs similar to those of a van with a combustion engine.

All-electric trucks: FUSO eCanter and Urban eTruck

Since 2014, Daimler Trucks has been impressively demonstrating the everyday suitability of an all-electric truck for the light distribution sector in customer trials with the FUSO Canter E-Cell. In 2016, FUSO presented the eCanter — the third generation of the world’s first all-electric light-duty truck — at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show. This presentation marked the start of a small series production run of vehicles that will be delivered to customers in Europe, the United States and Japan from 2017 on. The FUSO eCanter represents the systematic further development of the FUSO Canter E-Cell, and it differs from the predecessor model not just in visual terms but also technologically.

With its locally zero-emission drive system, the eCanter not only reduces the impact of exhaust and noise on city centers; it also offers an economically attractive alternative to diesel engines. Because of its lower costs for the battery and other components, the eCanter can be offered at a competitive price. In addition, the truck’s low operating costs compared to an equivalent diesel model mean that customers can recoup their expense in around three years.

In July 2016, Daimler Trucks presented the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, the first fully electric truck with a gross vehicle weight of up to 26 metric tons. The Urban eTruck thus points the way to a future in which heavy-duty trucks can also be used for emission-free and low-noise urban distribution operations. As things stand now, we could launch this technology at the beginning of the next decade. (See All-electric distribution)

Expansion of business with stationary energy storage devices

As early as 2015, Daimler entered the market for stationary energy-storage devices, and it has since then continually expanded its activities in this growth sector. The systems developed by Daimler are scalable, which means that the lithium-ion batteries can be utilized both in large-scale industrial applications and private households. Three major projects that focus on industrial energy-storage solutions are already being developed. They include a 13 MWh second-use battery storage unit in Lünen, Germany, (see Sustainability and Integrity) and a cooperation project with enercity (Stadtwerke Hannover AG). In the latter project, some 3,000 battery modules reserved for the third-generation smart electric drive vehicle fleet are being pooled to create a stationary storage facility at the enercity site in Herrenhausen. With a storage capacity totaling 15 MWh, the facility is one of the largest in Europe. A battery normally requires regular cycling (i.e. specific charging and discharging for the purpose of preservation) during its storage period if it is to be used as a replacement. The traditional and potentially long-term replacement battery storage solutions thus generate not only warehousing costs but substantial operating costs as well. However, the partner companies have succeeded in avoiding those costs through the use of an innovative approach that offers decisive benefits. Around 29 MW will be connected to the grid after completion of the first projects. Daimler will team up with specialized partners to market this power on Germany’s primary energy market. The storage units will be used to balance energy fluctuations in the German grid. Further projects are being planned.

In April 2016, Daimler began delivering Mercedes-Benz stationary energy-storage units for use in private homes. The lithium-ion batteries are manufactured by Daimler’s Deutsche Accumotive subsidiary and distributed via selected sales and cooperation partners. At present, the company is cooperating here with various energy suppliers, solar-power specialists and wholesalers. Their network of qualified specialist installers provide end-customers with on-site advice, take care of planning, draw up individual quotations for all components and perform the actual installation.

World premiere of the partially autonomous Mercedes-Benz Future Bus

During the year under review, Daimler Buses became the world’s first manufacturer to present a city bus that can operate in a partially autonomous mode in normal traffic. In July 2016, the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus equipped with CityPilot drove partially autonomously for the first time on a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line approximately of 20 kilometers in Amsterdam. The bus drove at speeds up to 70 km/h, stopped with centimeter precision at bus stops and traffic lights, accelerated automatically, drove through tunnels, braked for obstacles and pedestrians, and communicated with traffic signals. Drivers remain on board the Future Bus, but their job is made much easier.

For example, Future Bus can recognize if a stretch of road is suitable for autonomous driving and then notifies the driver, who can activate the CityPilot with just the push of a button. After that, drivers must keep their feet off the gas and brake pedals and their hands off the steering wheel. This is because any such driving action will override and deactivate the CityPilot. In other words, the driver always maintains full control over the bus.

Our “road to accident-free driving”

Vehicle safety is one of our core areas of expertise and a key component of our product strategy. The Mercedes-Benz brand has been shaping the development of safety systems for several decades. Many of the company’s innovations, especially those for protecting vehicle occupants and other road users, have saved countless lives. Even today, Daimler continues to set standards for safety technology and autonomous driving. Our vision of accident-free driving will continue to motivate us to make mobility as safe as possible for everyone in the future.

Partially autonomous driving in the new E-Class

With the new E-Class, Mercedes-Benz has taken a further step toward accident-free and autonomous driving. The model is the world’s first production car to be issued with a test license for autonomous driving in Nevada in the United States without having to change any of the standard hardware — only the software has been modified.

An extensive range of assistance systems, including Active Brake Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST and Crosswind Assist, are standard in the new E-Class, which is also available with an expanded driver assistance package as an option. Basic features include partially automated driving on highways, country roads and even in cities, as well as assistance when changing lanes on multi-lane roads, for example when overtaking. In more and more situations, it can also autonomously brake the vehicle if required and provide active assistance during evasive maneuvers. The active distance assistant DISTRONIC can automatically maintain the correct distance to vehicles in front by adjusting the driver’s higher desired speed down to that of a slower-moving vehicle ahead. It can then accelerate back to the set speed once the road ahead is clear. With the Steering Pilot sub-function, the system can also keep the E-Class in its lane at speeds up to 210 km/h. This makes things easier for the driver, who no longer needs to brake or accelerate in normal driving situations and also receives plenty of steering assistance — even in curves.

Impressive innovations in the new E-Class include an Active Lane-change Assistant, which supports the driver when changing lanes — e.g. when overtaking on multi-lane roads. Once the driver has activated the turn signal for at least two seconds, and thus indicated a lane change, the Active Lane-change Assistant helps steer the vehicle into the desired adjacent lane, provided it detects that the lane is not occupied. Here, the driver merely monitors the lane change — and it makes no difference whether the driver wants to move to the right lane or to the left lane in order to pass another vehicle.

Car-to-x communication in series-production cars

During the year under review, Mercedes-Benz became the first manufacturer to introduce car-to-x connectivity technology in series-production models, thus once again underscoring its leading role as a pioneer in safety. An accident around the next bend? A sudden traffic jam due to a temporary construction site? Such situations are made less dangerous if drivers are specifically warned about them in advance. Car-to-x communication significantly extends the range of existing vehicle sensors, such as radar and camera systems. It allows information about dangerous situations that are automatically detected by a vehicle or reported by a driver to be sent to other vehicles, and in this manner it allows drivers to “see around corners” or “through obstacles,” so to speak. In other words, information about potential hazards in road traffic can be sent to drivers at an early stage. This allows drivers to prepare for them and avoid critical situations altogether. Mercedes-Benz uses the vehicle’s integrated communication device for car-to-x communication. Data is sent to the Daimler Vehicle Backend system, where it is aggregated, checked for plausibility and forwarded to other similarly equipped vehicles in the relevant vicinity. The system is designed to use third-party information as well. Car-to-x communication operates in the background and does not distract the driver’s attention. It simply provides the driver with early and targeted information in safety-critical situations and is therefore seamlessly integrated into the “Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive” strategy.

Car-to-X Communication

Connectivity for greater safety and lower fuel consumption

In May 2015, Daimler Trucks was the first manufacturer worldwide to receive a license to operate autonomously driving trucks on public roads. Our intelligent trucks have the potential to make the transport of goods more efficient, more sustainable and safer in the years ahead. The key here is to connect trucks with other vehicles and logistics participants. With its participation in the European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016 about two weeks after the world premiere of its Highway Pilot Connect system on the A52 autobahn near Düsseldorf in April 2016, Daimler Trucks once again demonstrated its technology leadership in the field of vehicle connectivity. In the European Truck Platooning Challenge, three connected and autonomous Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks participated in a cross-border convoy drive from Stuttgart to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connectivity makes it possible to electronically link trucks on highways and major secondary roads in platoons. Each networked truck can maintain a distance of just 15 meters from the next, rather than the 50 meters normally required. This significantly reduces aerodynamic drag, and a platoon of three trucks can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 7 % each. The shorter distance between vehicles in platoons also allows for much more efficient use of road space. For example, a platoon of three linked trucks has a length of only 80 meters, whereas three trucks that are not electronically coupled require 150 meters of road space. At the same time, platooning makes road traffic significantly safer. Whereas a human behind the wheel has a reaction time of 1.4 seconds before an emergency braking maneuver, Highway Pilot Connect transmits a braking signal to the vehicles behind in less than a tenth of a second. This considerably shortened reaction time can make a major contribution toward significantly reducing the number of rear-end collisions that occur at the tail end of traffic jams on highways, for example. However, even with all the technological possibilities offered by V2V, the driver always maintains ultimate responsibility for monitoring all of the assistance systems.

First time ever in a truck: Sideguard Assist and Active Brake Assist with pedestrian detection

Until now, assistance systems in trucks have primarily been used to avoid serious accidents on highways, although the number of trucks on the roads is continually increasing. With Sideguard Assist and Active Brake Assist 4 (ABA 4), Mercedes-Benz Trucks is transferring this state-of-the-art safety technology to urban traffic settings and helping to protect the most vulnerable road users — pedestrians and cyclists. Sideguard Assist is the first assistance system available in the industry that draws the truck driver’s attention to pedestrians and cyclists in turning situations; this means it can significantly increase safety in urban traffic situations. The German Insurance Association (GDV) believes that Sideguard Assist can prevent around half of all accidents between trucks and pedestrians/cyclists in the future. ABA 4 is the first emergency braking system for trucks that can significantly reduce the risk of accidents with pedestrians in cities. Whereas Active Brake Assist 3 is already able to initiate braking fully automatically in response to stationary and moving obstacles such as slow-moving vehicles and cars at the end of a traffic jam, the new ABA 4 now also detects pedestrians who walk onto streets from between parked cars. In this case, the system will autonomously initiate partial braking.

Environmental protection
Research and development