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Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of luxury automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. It is currently a division of the parent company, Daimler AG (formerly DaimlerChrysler AG), after previously being owned by Daimler-Benz. Mercedes-Benz has its origins in Karl Benz's creation of the first petrol-powered motorcycle in January 1886, and by Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach's conversion of a 1873 Bollée steam-engine automobile by the addition of a petrol engine the same year. The Mercedes automobile was first marketed in 1901 by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft. The first Mercedes-Benz brand name vehicles were produced in 1926, following the merger of Karl Benz's and Gottlieb Daimler's companies into the Daimler-Benz company. Mercedes-Benz has introduced many technological and safety innovations that have become common in other vehicles several years later.

Subsidiaries

Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH is an independent subsidiary based in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, founded in 2000. Its business include car accessories, personal accessories, Collection and promotional items, and product design.

Mercedes-Benz AMG became a majority owned division of Mercedes-Benz in 1998. The company was integrated into DaimlerChrysler in 1999, and became Mercedes-Benz AMG beginning in 1999-01-01.

Quality

Since its inception, Mercedes-Benz had maintained a reputation for its quality and durability. Objective measures looking at passenger vehicles - such as J.D. Power surveys, demonstrated a downturn in reputation in this criteria in the late 1990s and early 2000s. By mid-2005, Mercedes temporarily returned to the industry average for initial quality, a measure of problems after the first 90 days of ownership, according to J.D. Power. In J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study for the first quarter of 2007, Mercedes showed dramatic improvement by climbing from 25th to 5th place, surpassing quality leader Toyota, and earning several awards for its models. For 2008, Mercedes-Benz's initial quality rating improved by yet another mark, now in fourth place. On top of this accolade, it also received the Platinum Plant Quality Award for its Mercedes’ Sindelfingen, Germany assembly plant. As of 2009, Consumer Reports of the United States has changed their reliability ratings for several Mercedes-Benz vehicles to "average", and recommending the E-Class and the S-Class.

Motorsport

The two companies which were merged to form the Mercedes-Benzbrand in 1926 had both already enjoyed success in the new sport of motor racingthroughout their separate histories - both had entries in the very first automobile race Paris to Rouen 1894. This has continued, and throughout its long history, the company has been involved in a range of motorsport activities, including sports car racingand rallying. On several occasions Mercedes-Benz has withdrawn completely from motorsport for a significant period, notably in the late 1930s, and after the 1955 Le Mans disastermarker, where a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR collided with another car and killed more than 80 spectators.Although there was some activity in the intervening years, it was not until 1987 that Mercedes-Benz returned to front line competition, returning to Le Mans, Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft(DTM), and Formula Onewith Sauber.

The 1990s saw Mercedes-Benz purchase Britishmarker engine builder Ilmor (now Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines), and campaign IndyCars under the USAC/CART rules, eventually winning the 1994 Indianapolis 500 and 1994 CART IndyCar World Series Championship with Al Unser, Jr. at the wheel.The 1990s also saw the return of Mercedes-Benz to GT racing, and the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, both of which took the company to new heights by dominating the FIA's GT1 class.

Mercedes-Benz is currently active in three forms of motorsport, Formula Three, DTM and Formula One.

Formula 1

In Formula One, the company part-owns Team McLarenmarker, and has supplied the team with engines engineered by Ilmor since 1995.This partnership has brought success, including Drivers Championships for Mika Häkkinenin 1998 and 1999, and for Lewis Hamiltonin 2008, as well as a Constructors Championship in 1998. The collaboration with McLaren has been extended into the production of roadgoing cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

In 2009, Ross Brawn's newly conceived Formula One team, Brawn GPmarker used Mercedes engines to help win the Constructor's Championship, and Jenson Button to become champion in the F1 Drivers' Championship.It also sold back its 40% stake in McLaren to the McLaren Group and now owns 70% of the Brawn GP team jointly with an Abu Dubai based investment consortium. Brawn GP will be renamed Mercedes Grand Prix in 2010.

Business alliances (Studebaker-Packard Corporation)

In 1958, Mercedes-Benz entered into a distribution agreement with the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indianamarker (USA), makers of Studebaker and Packard brand automobiles.Under the deal, Studebaker would allow Mercedes-Benz access to their U.S.marker dealer network, handle shipments of vehicles to those dealers, and in return receive compensation for each car sold.Studebaker also was permitted to use the German automaker's name in its advertisements, which stressed Studebaker's quality over quantity.

When Studebaker entered into informal discussions with Franco-American automaker Facel Vegaabout offering their Facel Vega Excellencemodel in the United States, Mercedes-Benz objected to the proposal. Studebaker, which needed Mercedes-Benz distribution payments to help stem heavy losses, dropped further action on the plan.

Mercedes-Benz maintained an office within the Studebaker works in South Bend from 1958 to 1963, when Studebaker's U.S. operations ceased. Many U.S Studebaker dealers converted to Mercedes-Benz dealerships at that time. When Studebaker closed its Canadian operation and left the automobile business in 1966, remaining Studebaker dealers had the option to convert their dealerships to Mercedes-Benz dealership agreements.

Production

Besides its native Germany, Mercedes-Benz vehicles are also manufactured or assembled in:



Models

Mercedes-Benz range today

Mercedes-Benz has a full range of passenger, light commercial and heavy commercial equipment. Production is on a global basis. The Smartmarqueof city carshas also been part of the Mercedes-Benz Group since 1994.

Passenger cars

The following passenger vehicleswere in production in 2009:


Significant car models produced



McLaren cars

A silver SLR McLaren on display at the 2006 European Motor Show in Brussels
Mercedes-Benz has also produced a limited-production sports car with McLaren Cars, an extension of the collaboration by which Mercedes engines are used by the Team McLaren-Mercedesmarker Formula One racing team, which is part owned by Mercedes.The 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLarenhas a carbon fibrebody with a 5.4 litreV8superchargedengine. This is the same cylinder blockas featured in SL55 AMG and the CLS55 AMG, though modified to give and of torque. The SLR has a maximum speed of and costs approximately US$500,000. Due to European pedestrian-protection regulations, McLaren has decided to cease production of the SLR in 2009.

The most recent new joint-venture model, expected to reach production, is the mid-engine P8sports car. Based around a unique carbon fibre monocoque, manufactured by McLaren, the P8 was originally predicted to receive the new naturally aspirated 6.2 litre V8 from Mercedes-AMG, but insiders now say that the engine will be modified for the car and will probably be twin-turbochargedto produce in excess of . The car is still in development, but likely to reach production to go on sale in early 2008, and have a price tag less than that of the SLR.

Car nomenclature

In 1994 (starting with the 1994 models), the traditional nomenclature of Mercedes-Benz vehicles changed. Since the early days of the company, the name would be in the form of (for example) 500Ewhere the engine displacementmade up the first three numbers and the last letter(s) represented the type of engine and/or chassis; for example: Efor fuel injection( ), Dfor Diesel, Lfor long-wheelbase, etcetera.

In 1994, this was altered so that the prefix reflected the model or Class, , in Mercedes-Benz terminology, and a number for the engine displacement. The suffix was retained in some cases, for example Lfor long wheelbase, and CDIfor Diesel (CDI = Common-railDirect Injection). Thus, the 500E in the example above became the E500 ("E-Klasse", 5 litres displacement). It should also be noted that while in the past the model number generally accurately reflected the actual engine displacement, this is currently not always the case — for example the E200 CDI and E220 CDI actually both have a 2.2 litre displacement, and the C240 actually has a 2.6 litre engine.

Electric vehicles

Mercedes has showed in 2009 the Vision S500 PHEVpetrol concept vehiclewith a all-electric rangeand CO2 emissionsof 74 grams/kmin the New European Driving Cycle.

At the 2007 Frankfurt motor show, Mercedes-Benz also showed seven hybrid models, including the F700 concept car- which combined hybrid drive with the innovative DiesOtto engine.

In 2009, the S400 hybrid saloon is scheduled to go on sale.

On the other hand, Mercedes-Benz says it will have a demonstration fleet of practical, if small, electric vehicles on the road in two to three years, from 2008.

Mercedes-Benz S 400 BlueHYBRIDwill be launched in 2009, and will be the first production automotive hybrid in the world to use a lithium-ion battery.

Mercedes-Benz BlueZEROcars were introduced in the 2009 North American International Auto Show.

Concept models

Interior of the Ocean Drive Concept


Buses

Mercedes-Benz also produces buses, mainly for Europe and Asia.

The first factory to be built outside Germany after WWII was in Argentinamarker.It originally built trucks, many of which were modified independently to buses, popularly named Colectivo. Today, it builds buses, trucks and the Sprinter van.

Vans

Mercedes-Benz Vario
Mercedes-Benz produces a range of vans.
The current (January 2009) range consists of:
  • Sprinter 414 416CDI ambulance
  • Sprinter 316CDI light ambulance
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Cabriolet
1959 Mercedes-Benz W120 Model 180


Previous models include:


Trucks

Mercedes-Benz is one of the world's largest manufacturer of trucks.

The current (January 2009) range consists of:


Old
Mercedes-Benz L-series truck

Bicycles

Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH introduced 3 new bicycles in 2005, named Automatic Bike from upwards of USD$699, Fitness Bike from upwards of USD$999, Mountain Bike from upwards of USD$1399 (Prices recorded from immediate release date). The bikes are sold in Australia, Germany, and Russia.

List of bicycles:


Tuners

Several companies have become car tuners (or modifiers) of Mercedes Benz, in order to increase performance and/or luxury to a given model.

In house

AMG is Mercedes-Benz's in-house performance-tuning division, specialising in high-performance versions of most Mercedes-Benz cars. AMG engines are all hand-built, and each completed engine receives a tag with the signature of the engineer who built it. AMG has been wholly owned by Mercedes-Benz since 1999. On the 2009 IAA in Frankfurt, Germany, Mercedes officially introduced the SLS AMG, a revival of the 300SL Gullwing, and the first car to be developed by AMG.

Aftermarket tuners

There are numerous independent tuners:

Noted employees (selection)



Innovations

Numerous technological innovations have been introduced on Mercedes-Benz automobiles throughout the many years of their production, including:
  • The internal combustion engined automobile was developed independently by Benz and Daimler & Maybach in 1886
  • Daimler invented the honeycomb radiator of the type still used on all water-cooled vehicles today
  • Daimler invented the float carburetor which was used until replaced by fuel injection
  • The "drop chassis" - the car originally designated the "Mercedes" by Daimler was also the first car with a modern configuration, having the carriage lowered and set between the front and rear wheels, with a front engine and powered rear wheels. All earlier cars were "horseless carriages", which had high centres of gravity and various engine/drive-train configurations
  • The first passenger road car to have brakes on all four wheels (1924)
  • The "safety cage" or "safety cell" construction with front and rear crumple zones was first developed by Mercedes-Benz in 1951. This is considered by many as the most important innovation in automobile construction from a safety standpoint
  • In 1959, Mercedes-Benz patented a device that prevents drive wheels from spinning by intervening at the engine, transmission, or brakes. In 1987, Mercedes-Benz applied its patent by introducing a traction control system that worked under both braking and acceleration
  • Traction control and airbags in the European market, were Mercedes-Benz innovations. These technologies were introduced in 1986, and 1980 respectively
  • Mercedes-Benz was the first to introduce pre-tensioners to seat belts on the 1981 S-Class. In the event of a crash, a pre-tensioner will tighten the belt instantaneously, removing any 'slack' in the belt, which prevents the occupant from jerking forward in a crash
  • In September 2003, Mercedes-Benz introduced the world's first seven-speed automatic transmission called '7G-Tronic'
  • Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), brake assist, and many other types of safety equipment were all developed, tested, and implemented into passenger cars—first—by Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz has not made a large fuss about its innovations, and has even licensed them for use by competitors — in the name of improving automobile and passenger safety. As a result, crumple zones and anti-lock brakes (ABS) are now standard on all modern vehicles.
Mercedes M156 engine
  • The most powerful naturally-aspirated eight cylinder engine in the world is the Mercedes-AMG, 6208 cc M156 V8 engine. The V8 engine is badged '63 AMG', and replaced the '55 AMG' M113 engine in most models. The M156 engine produces up to , and although some models using this engine do have this output (such as the S63 and CL63 AMGs), specific output varies slightly across other models in the range
  • The E320 CDI which has a variable geometry turbocharger (VTG) 3.0 litre V6 common rail diesel engine (producing 224-horsepower), set three world endurance records. It covered in a record time, with an average speed of . Three identical cars did the endurance run (one set above record) and the other two cars set world records for time taken to cover and respectively. After all three cars had completed the run, their combined distance was (all records were FIA approved).
  • Mercedes-Benz pioneered a system called Pre-Safe to detect an imminent crash - and prepares the car's safety systems to respond optimally. It also calculates the optimal braking force required to avoid an accident in emergency situations, and makes it immediately available for when the driver depresses the brake pedal. Occupants are also prepared by tightening the seat belt, closing the sunroof and windows, and moving the seats into the optimal position.
  • Mercedes Benz developed a fatigue-detection system, known as Attention Assist, that warns the driver when they are displaying signs of micro-sleep (when the eyes stay closed for slightly longer than a natural blinking action). The system will use a variety of data including the individual driving style, the duration of the journey, the time of day and the current traffic situation. Fatigue mostly sets in gradually.
  • The fastest street-legal saloon car in the world is the Brabus Rocket, based on the CLS-Class saloon.
  • Mercedes Benz invented the adaptive highbeam assist system, which automatically and continuously adapts the headlamp range to the distance of vehicles ahead or which are oncoming. The new system continually adjusts the beam so that the headlamp cone falls just in front of other vehicles, at the same time always ensuring maximum possible range without dazzling other road users. The adaptive highbeam assist is introduced first in the new generation E-Class.


Half a century of vehicle safety innovation helped win Mercedes- Benz the Safety Award at the 2007 What Car? Awards

Robot cars

In the 1980s, Mercedes built the world's first robot car, together with the team of Professor Ernst Dickmanns at Bundeswehr Universität Münchenmarker. Partially encouraged by Dickmanns' success, in 1987 the European Union's EUREKA programme initiated the Prometheus Project on autonomous vehicles, funded to the tune of nearly 800 million Euros. A culmination point was achieved in 1995, when Dickmanns' re-engineered autonomous S-Class Mercedes took a long trip from Munichmarker in Bavariamarker to Copenhagenmarker in Denmarkmarker, and back. On highways, the robot achieved speeds exceeding (roughly 110 miles per hour; permissible in some areas of the German Autobahn). The car's abilities has heavily influenced robot car research and funding decisions worldwide.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy

In the United States, due to an inability to meet federal fuel economy regulations, Mercedes-Benz was fined a record US$30.66 million. Certain Mercedes-Benz cars sold in the United States also face an additional gas guzzler tax.

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