The Mercedes-Benz Unimog – the Success of an Idea
Stuttgart
May 23, 2011
Short Version: Unimog: A living legend
  • 1951: Daimler-Benz starts its production line in Gaggenau
  • Unimog S model rolls of the line in 1955
  • Medium product range 406 follows in 1963
  • Its heavier brothers follow from 1974 on
  • 1992: Main focus on all-year round operation for product
    range 408/418
  • New generation of implement carriers U 300 bis U 500 greets the new millenium
  • The current Unimog range

Created during the hard times immediately following the end of WW II, the tough Mercedes-Benz Unimog has long since become one of the few still-living legends of automobile construction. Over decades, the Unimog has proved itself worldwide as a versatile implement carrier and transport vehicle; up to the present day roughly 380,000 vehicles have been produced. What remains throughout is its basic idea: four wheels, equal in size, outstanding off-road mobility due to its portal axles, four-wheel drive and differential locks at front and back, compact dimensions and last but not least its ability to provide power for a great variety of attached and mounted implements.
First drawings crop up as early as 1945
The first drawings for an agricultural vehicle from the pen of Albert Friedrich, previously head of Daimler-Benz Aero Engine Construction, date back to autumn 1945. Friedrich gained the company Erhard & Sons in Schwäbisch Gmünd as a partner in research and development. The series production of the vehicle known as the "Universal-Motor-Gerät (tool) " – abbreviated to Unimog – started in 1948 at Boehringer Bros. Engineering Company in Göppingen. As the demand for the production run grew bringing with it a need for long-term investments, Daimler-benz took over the Unimog business in autumn 1950 and the new plant in Gaggenau started manufacturing the Unimog on 3 June 1951.
From May 1953 on, the Unimog proudly carried the Mercedes star and two years later, also in May, the first Unimog of the 404 product range rolled off the assembly line. Its chassis – which provided outstanding offroad mobility – was manufactured until 1980 and supplied to many countries all over the world.
An additional product range to satisfy growing demand
As demand grew and requirements became more and more complex and diverse, from 1962 on Daimler-Benz supplemented the Unimog with a larger product range referred to as the 406. Three years later this was completed by product range 416.
Further milestones in the history of the Unimog were product ranges 424 in 1974 and 435 in 1976 – and with them the advent of the heavy duty Unimog product ranges. May 1992 saw the introduction of product ranges 408 with the Unimog U 90 (lighter Unimog product range) and 418 with models U 110 and U 140 (medium-weight Unimog product range).
The current programme
Since 2000, public services, municipal contractors, the construction and energy sectors as well as other industries have been the main customers for Unimog implement carriers U 300, U 400 and U 500. Their striking looks with their practical and attractively-designed cabs made of fibre-reinforced composite material, their quick-change steering Vario-Pilot which can be transferred within seconds from left to right, the powerful new hydraulic system VarioPower and their current powerful engines with up to 210 Kw (286 hp) – allow the Unimog implement carriers to satisfy the many and varied demands made by their very diverse clientele.
Product range U 3000 to U 5000 with its outstanding offroad capabilities was designed for operating under extreme offroad conditions and was first introduced to the general public in 2002. The outstanding offroad mobility of the chassis is highly appreciated in particular by fire services, for international safety operations, disaster intervention as well as for extremely mobile transport, service and maintenance vehicles or as the basis for expedition and exploration vehicles.
At the IAA 2006 Mercedes-Benz supplemented its Unimog programme with the U 20 which comes below the U 300, U 400 and U 500. It combines their time-tried technology with a lower vehicle weight, outstanding manoeuvrability and a lower price. The U 20 has a mass-produced all-steel cab – making it the first Unimog with forward control – and its technical concept has been designed to suit the daily needs of smaller and medium-sized towns and rural areas.
From the very beginning, the Unimog U 20 has been produced at the Wörth plant and it was here that the rest of the Unimog production was moved in August 2002 – after 51 years and more than 320,000 vehicles – from its traditional home plant in Gaggenau.
Your Media Contact
Jürgen
Barth
Product Communications Trucks / Unimog
Phone: +49 711 17-52077
Fax: +49 711 17-91595
Uta
Leitner
Product Communications Trucks / Unimog / Buses & Coaches
Phone: +49 711 17-53058
Fax: +49 711 17-91595
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