The early 1990s marked the start of a period of renewal at Mercedes-Benz as it adapted itself to a radically changed market environment. Since customer requirements had become much more diversified than in the past, the Board of Management now took the courageous decision to transform Mercedes-Benz into a dynamic brand offering vehicles in every category. Although countless decisions have been taken in the long history of the brand, the decision to launch the product drive must surely rank as the most momentous ever in terms of its far-reaching consequences.
All the concept vehicles of the years that followed can be traced back to this historic decision at Mercedes-Benz. With very few exceptions, all of these vehicles subsequently made it into volume production. Their subsequent success is further proof that the product drive was the right decision at the right time. Examples include the A-Class, the SLK-Class and the M-Class – products which have had an important impact on the market and given huge customer satisfaction.
One of the notable features of Mercedes-Benz concept vehicles is the fact that they are so closely geared to the realities of the market. Speaking at the unveiling of Vision GST in 2002 Professor Jürgen Hubbert, former Board of Management member with responsibility for the Mercedes-Benz brand, put it like this: ‘Concept cars have always been more than just “show cars” for Mercedes-Benz. We develop and design them to test new concepts or technologies, to engage in closer dialogue with our customers and to gauge the reactions of the public to the ideas they embody. As the recent past at Mercedes-Benz shows, the transition from a vision to reality can be accomplished relatively swiftly.’