The Research Vehicles of Mercedes-Benz
The future of the original
Daimler AG is proud of being the motor manufacturer with the longest tradition. But the company has never rested on its laurels – it has always recognised that success is driven by research and innovation.
Since the beginning, Daimler AG has devoted itself to this path of innovation and has presented exciting research vehicles to the public at almost regular intervals. These reflect a recent chapter in the company’s 125-year history.
Because a look at the past and current research vehicles is both retrospective and a preview of the future of the automobile – for instance of the current F 125!.
The company has always been committed to this path of innovation and has been presenting the public with fascinating research vehicles at virtually regular intervals.
Mercedes-Benz has always tested new automotive concepts on fully operational vehicles, and has stepped up this practice since 1969. The Wankel, or rotary-piston engine, in the C111 was the first to be tested and was later followed by other drive systems. This car was thus the forerunner of the research cars. Their history began in 1978 with the “Auto 2000”, the Mercedes-Benz stepping stone to in-depth basic research for new automobiles. It was followed by the NAFA in 1981. The more recent line-up began with the F 100 in 1991 – the “F” standing for the German for “research car”.
Since then, research cars fitting the description “holistic” have been produced with almost infallible regularity; they serve not just to test single components, but often to  demonstrate an entirely new vehicle concept in the form of a ready-to-drive automobile that incorporates many forwardlooking technologies. Apart from research cars, the company classifies several other types of vehicle that serve to develop new models.
Test vehicles are close relatives of the research cars. Their purpose is to put new technologies from the research labs out onto the test track to try them out in practical operation.
Concept cars at Daimler AG are near-production, ready-todrive vehicle studies. They position a future vehicle model on the market. One example is the Study A of 1993, which reveals several characteristics attributed to the subsequent A-Class. Concept cars are equipped with new technology that is already in production cars or soon to reach production standard.
Vehicle studies are feasibility studies that show new ideas in the form of a complete automobile. These, however, are not usually roadworthy. This category includes NAFA, a short-distance vehicle that originated a good twenty years ago. It had a short, high body and, as such, was a forerunner of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the smart city coupé.
The range of fascinating and pioneering automobiles offers proof of the consistency and foresight with which Mercedes-Benz engineers address the core issues of research and technology in order to develop innovative solutions for the future. Many systems that were first used in research vehicles and viewed as revolutionary at the time can be found in production cars. The F 800 Style — whose motto is “Efficiency Meets Elegance” — is no exception in this regard. Like its predecessors, the model features key drive, comfort, and safety system innovations, as well as an avant-garde design, all of which point the way forward for future Mercedes-Benz vehicles that will continue to present an irresistible combination of fascination and responsibility.
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