Follow @rpmgo

Mercedes-Benz Celebrating 125 Years

Aesthetics 125

On January 29th, 1886, Karl Benz filled the patent for his “vehicle with gas-engine drive.” Without any doubt, it is one of the most important days in the history of automotive and with this occasion, Daimler is looking back at that day that happened 125 years ago while at the same time looking into the future of the company.

Daimler is organizing a world tour in order to present the Mercedes cars that are powered by fuel-cells. The B-Class cars equipped with these fuel cells will travel all over the world during an extensive 125-days trip. 125 years later after that patent, the German received another patent for the bi-polar flat-cell frame which is an all-new technological development that will help creating lithium-ion batteries in the future.

With this special occasion, Mercedes decided to celebrate by using art as a method of highlighting the company’s future. Benefiting from the rapid-prototyping technology, the German engineers were capable of quickly making a sculpture that at first it was only a data in a computer. Dubbed Aesthetics 125, this cool-looking piece demonstrates the high level of technological sophistication available today while at the same time giving us a few ideas about the design language of the future.

View Comments

Leave a reply

Mercedes Indian Plant Sees Production Growth

Due to the increase of luxury cars demand in India, Daimler AG is planning on investing approximately $78 million (3.5 billion rupees) in the Indian factory that manufactures Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Starting today, Daimler has added a second shift at the Pune unit located in western India, a second shift that will be able to double the annual capacity of Mercedes-Benz cars, reaching 10,000 units, according to the local director of corporate affairs, Suhas Kadlaskar. He added that Daimler will spend an additional 2 billion rupees for a paint shop that will be open for business in 2012.

Back in September, the head of the local Mercedes Benz unit said that the company is expecting that the vehicles sold in India will rival to the UK within 10 years as rising wealth increases the demand for luxury automobiles. According to the data published by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Daimler’s passenger vehicle commercialization in India went up by 79% in comparison to the similar period of last year, reaching 3,827 cars between April and November. BMW’s sales also went up, this time by 72%, reaching 4,031 units.

According to Forbes, the rich get richer in India as the combined net worth of the country’s 100 wealthiest people reached the record level of $300 billion in 2010, which is the equivalent of approximately one quarter of the Indian gross domestic product. A report published two months ago by Credit Suisse Group AG, stated that the India’s wealthy may double their assets over the next five years, reaching $6.4 trillion, as their economic growth swells their ranks. This possible increase will probably translate into a higher demand for luxury products, including automobiles.

In this fiscal year, Tata Motors who is the owner of Jaguar Land Rover will be opening up 10 new dealerships for the luxury car brands in the country as well as beginning to assembly the Land Rover SUV models in India starting with mid-2011. The Indian finance ministry raised the economic growth forecast yesterday for the current financial year. It seems that there are good chances that the economy will go up by about 9.1% this year. The projected growth rate was for about 8.25% – 8.75% back in February.

In addition to all these, the benchmark of the Sensitive Index of the Bombay Stock Exchange grew by 10% in 2010, making it one of the best performers in the 10 largest stock markets of the world.

BMW, Toyota, Daimler Borrow Battery Strategy From Tesla

Toyota RAV4 EV

It seems that BMW, Toyota and Daimler are looking for new and affordable ways of powering their future electric-powered cars that will replace the conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. These carmakers are testing at the moment the lithium-ion battery packs that are assembled by Silicon Valley for Tesla Motors. These units are more affordable than the bigger and car-only models that Nissan, General Motors and Mitsubishi are using. The beautiful and innovative Tesla Roadster that has a price tag of $109,000 is powered by no more than 6,831 cylinder-shaped cells that are manufactured by the Japanese giant Panasonic Corporation. With this battery, the Roadster is capable of doing 295 km (245 miles) on a full charge.

According to Sanyo Electric Company, who is at the moment the biggest producer of batteries in the world, the development of automobiles powered by lithium-ion batteries will triple the sales of these manufacturers in 10 years to $60 billion (5 trillion yen), from only 1, 5 trillion yen in March 2010. A Tokyo analyst that works for Advanced Research Japan stated that these rechargeable consumer-electronics batteries will benefit from an economy of scale which will most likely reduce the costs for manufacturing and cut the prices for electric cars. Endo added that “it may lead to the total component cost of an electric car getting lower than that of a gasoline car. As the cost lowers, there’ll be more likelihood that retail prices of electric cars will drop.”

According to Bloomberg  New Energy Finance, the cost of an electric vehicle at the moment is more than three-quarters higher in comparison to gasoline cars, as the Chevrolet Volt manufactured by General Motors has a base retail price of $41,000 while the Nissan Leaf’s can be bought for a starting price of $32,780. According to consultant Frost & Sullivan, the cost for an electric automobile is almost double to manufacture in comparison to a gasoline-powered vehicle, because of the very expensive batteries that power these vehicles.

J.D. Power and Associates estimate that the sales of hybrids and electric vehicles will reach by the end of this year 954,000 units worldwide which is about 2.2% of the market share. The biggest shareholder at Sanyo is Panasonic, who is the main supplier of the lithium-ion batteries that power the Tesla. Last month, the Japanese electronics giant bought stakes that value $30 million at the company in Palo Alto, California. Besides Panasonic, other important companies that own stakes at Tesla are Daimler and Toyota.

After opening a new factory in Osaka, Japan; Panasonic raised their annual production rate for small-sized batteries by 9%, reaching 1.4 billion batteries. Due to the tougher competition in the television manufacturing business, Panasonic is searching for ways to increase their sales of energy-related products. The German automaker BMW has leased 450 Minis that will be powered by laptop cells. Volkswagen is at the moment studying the technology in their facility located in California, United States.

Toyota RAV4 EV

Tesla’s founder Martin Eberhard, affirmed that the cost of manufacturing larger lithium-ion batteries is about $700-$800 / kilowatt hour, in comparison to the mass-produced packs that use small laptop cells that cost about $200. He added that “it’s a much more effective approach. There’s a huge advantage in terms of economy of scale.”

He added that in the present, the factories that are manufacturing small cells are running at their maximum capacities in order to fulfill the increasing demand. From this situation will benefit many electric vehicle produces that cannot afford developing their own batteries. General Motors has a partnership with LG Chem Ltd., located in South Korea, for the batteries that power the Chevrolet Volt, while Nissan teamed up with Nec Corporation, who is the largest PC maker in Japan, for making the batteries that power the popular Leaf model.

The Japanese automaker giant Toyota is working side by side with Tesla for the electric version of the small sport utility vehicle RAV 4 model, while the plug-in Prius hybrid as well as the small, electric vehicle that is due in 2012, will employ larger batteries. The president of Toyota Corporation, Akio Toyoda said that “when the customer decides “this is the car I want”, we want to be that full-time marker who has the answers for that customer. By using both car batteries and laptop batteries, we are able to provide customers with a wider variety of choice.”

The Tesla shares rose more than 80% in 2010, compared to an 11% increase in the Russell 1000 Index, although the carmaker delivered less than 1,500 units of their Roadster model since 2008. The shares of Toyota have plummeted 15% in 2010, mostly because of the many car recalls.

The problems that might appear with lithium-ion batteries in the consumer electronics market relate to the fact that they have a long history of recalls due to overheating issues that can cause a fire. The world’s largest cell phone manufacturer, Nokia, offered three years ago to replace no more than 46 million Panasonic phone batteries. In order to reduce the risk of overheating, Panasonic is now using an insulator film located between electrodes, according to a spokesman from the company.

Back in 2006, Sony Corporation recalled about 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries due to metal parts that infiltrated into the cells during the manufacturing process which could have caused overheating and short circuits.

A Roadster owner by the name of Scott Painter stated that he doesn’t have to worry about what is going under the hood of his car as he hasn’t noticed any problems with the battery since he got the car two years ago. He is the CEO of Truecar Incorporated, who is an automotive-sales and data-marketing firm located in Santa Monica, California. He also said that “I’ve never been found wanting on the batteries. I step on the pedal and it goes like a bat out of hell.”

2010 Smart ForTwo gets refreshed with new looks and options

The Smart ForTwo hasn’t exactly been the city car sales phenomenon Mercedes-Benz had been hoping for.

Still, the company is confident in the compact model, and has revealed the 2010 refresh to the ForTwo range.

As you can see above, the outside hasn’t seen any dramatic changes, with the new, optional LED daytime running lights being the biggest addition. A set of 15-inch alloy wheels can also be ordered, alongside an even wider array of colors, that can decorate anything from the body to specific components of the car. Also, for the open top version of the ForTwo, customers will be able to order either a red or blue cloth top.

The interior of the 2010 Smart ForTwo has seen some much needed improvements though. The instrument panel has been redesigned, while an optional three-spoke leather steering wheel can be ordered. Another new addition is a touchscreen infotainment system, letting drivers control the navigation, bluetooth connectivity or the audio system.

In terms of engines, the units haven’t changed, but their CO2 emissions have been lowered. The top-of-the-range Brabus version is now capable of emitting just 119 g/km of CO2. The most frugal in the range is still a CDI diesel unit, which puts out just 86 g/km of CO2.

Expect the 2010 Smart ForTwo to debut in dealerships this fall, across the world.


Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG started life as Dodge Viper replacement, report says

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is being hailed as one of the most important supercar in recent times, combining cutting edge technology from Mercedes-Benz with massive power from its AMG division.

According to a report from Inside Line though, a lot of the credit should go to the Dodge Viper team, as it seems that the SLS AMG started life as a Viper replacement project at Chrysler’s Dodge.

It seems that a few years ago, the Dodge team knew a next generation Viper must be developed, so work had already started on an aluminum chassis and a new suspension system. Seeing as how Daimler still owned Chrysler, the Mercedes-Benz team decided to join in, in an effort to cut the development costs for MB’s own future supercar.

After Chrysler started suffering from the impending bankruptcy, the Dodge team was pulled by company execs from the project, which was handed over to Mercedes. As you all know, afterwards, Daimler washed its hands and got rid of Chrysler, which ended up with Fiat.

Now, as the SLS AMG is winning hearts left and right, the Dodge team is back at the drawing board, with a Viper replacement slated to appear around 2012.

This is still a rumor, at the moment, but considering the corporate intrigues that happened with Daimler Chrysler, we wouldn’t be too surprised if the SLS AMG did have American origins.

What do you think? Was Daimler capable of such a strategy? Share your thoughts below.


View Comments

Leave a reply

Videos: Mercedes-Benz starts “The best or nothing” ad campaign

Mercedes-Benz wants to recreate its brand image, as well as highlight its new long term strategy which will see a lot of new vehicles developed and launched in the next few years.

As such, the German company has revealed a new marketing campaign, complete with a new slogan: “The best or nothing.”

In order to drive the point home, two ads have been revealed. While the two are largely the same, they both highlight Mercedes’ long road, from its origins with its founder, Gottlieb Daimler, to the present, where fresh concepts and new models have been revealed.

Hit the jump to check out the two new ads for Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes-Benz CEO bets on Germany during 2010 World Cup, offers large incentives

The 2010 World Cup in soccer is set to start this Friday in South Africa. With it, Daimler boss, Dieter Zetsche, is planning a new incentive rush for Mercedes-Benz.

In order to promote the company’s tie to both the World Cup organizers and to the German national team, Zetsche has pushed for new incentives, with as much as a $2,493 discount for a SLK roadster in his native Germany.

Zetsche is seemingly also a betting man, as he promised that if Germany will win the World Cup (1 in 14 odds), zero percent financing plus $381 in lease incentives will also be offered to specific models across the range.

So, you might be thinking, why is Mercedes-Benz trying so hard to capitalize on the World Cup? For starters, it’s one of the biggest sporting events in the world, but most importantly, MB is trying to target a younger demographic. Currently, Mercedes buyers are, on average, 10 years older than BMW or Audi customers.

As such, soccer fans that are thrilled about Germany’s World Cup performance are a very interesting segment.


Next Nissan Z car to get Mercedes-Benz engines, hybrid or diesel variants are possible

Nissan‘s next Z model, the successor to the current 370Z, will become much more eco-conscious, according to some rumors published by Autocar.

According to them, the recent partnership between the Renault Nissan group and Daimler will also affect the next entry-level sportscar from Nissan.

As such, Mercedes-Benz will offer an array of engines that might appear under the bonnet of the next Z car. And before you ask, no, we aren’t talking about fire-breathing AMG-spec engines, but fuel efficient diesels or even hybrid assemblies.

According to the speculation, the 3.5-liter V6 engine, coupled with the electric motor from the S400 hybrid might be transplanted to the Japanese model. Other likely candidates are the diesel V6 from the E350 CDI or even the future Diesotto 1.8-liter unit, currently in development at Mercedes-Benz.

We’re still a bit reluctant that these things will happen, but given harsher fuel average and emissions regulations, a change is definitely coming. Hopefully, instead of this hybrid mumbo jumbo, we might get to see the 370Z’s 3.7-liter V6 replaced with a smaller, possibly turbocharged V6 or maybe even a four-cylinder.


View Comments

Leave a reply

Future Infiniti M and G might share platform with Mercedes-Benz E Class

The auto industry was pretty surprised a few weeks ago when Daimler and the Renault Nissan alliance announced a new partnership regarding platform and engine sharing. The goal of the new alliance is to save up to $1 billion in research and development costs.

We know many of those collaborations will occur for the small car segment, but according to a new report from Japan’s Best Car, bigger models will also see some sharing going on.

According to the mag, the future Infiniti M and G models might soon use the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz E Class. If it will come true, this would mean some serious benefits and saved costs for both luxury brands.

The M and G, together with the E Class are primarily considered bread and butter models, meaning their high sales result in considerable profits. If the manufacturing costs will be reduced, an even larger profit will be scooped.

Still, even if this platform sharing possibility sounds great, we’re not holding our breaths. What about you? Would you welcome such a change?


Mercedes-Benz plans new electric cars with China’s BYD

Chalk another partnership for German company Daimler, owner of Mercedes-Benz, as the group has just signed a contract with China’s Build Your Dreams (BYD).

The new 50:50 joint venture between the two companies, called Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. Ltd., will specialize in manufacturing all new electric vehicles for the already booming Chinese market.

Daimler has long been interested in expanding its electric endeavors, and partnering up with BYD, the leading battery technology developer from China, is a huge step in that direction. Wang Chuanfu, BYD boss, revealed that the first car in this new partnership will arrive as soon as possible. No concrete date was given though.

Daimler has partnered up with the Renault Nissan alliance a few months ago, in terms of small car development and platform sharing. It is also rumored to be preparing a deal with Toyota, that will see the two groups collaborate in terms of fuel cell technologies and future vehicles.


Toyota and Daimler might be planning fuel cell research partnership

Toyota and Daimler might be planning fuel cell research partnership

Another day, another report of a future industry partnership. After hearing about Volkswagen’s official purchase of Italdesign Giugiaro, reports are now coming in about a new partnership between Toyota and Daimler.

According to Reuters, the two companies are planning to kick start a joint venture which would research and develop new fuel cell technologies for future electric vehicles. Both carmakers have been documenting the new technology for quite some time, so this new partnership might make a lot of sense.

Daimler has also partnered recently with the Renault Nissan alliance, but that only covers small car development and platform sharing. The company is also part, alongside Toyota and other carmakers of the so-called Hydrogen Alliance, a group that supports the development of fuel cell vehicles.

The two companies refused to declare anything about a partnership, so perhaps an official announcement isn’t too far away.


Mercedes-Benz also announces a carbon fiber future for its models

It seems carbon fiber won’t be just a thing high end supercar manufacturers or tuners use on specific vehicles. After BMW announced that it will build a carbon fiber processing plant in the USA, and use the material on its future models, including the electric Megacity, Daimler has also revealed that the material will be used on Mercedes-Benz models.

As such, the German company partnered up with Japanese carbon fiber specialist, Toray Industries. While many of you might not be familiar with this company, it controls around 34% of the global carbon fiber market.

Future Mercedes-Benz will benefit from carbon fiber reinforced plastic body parts and other such materials, in order to achieve a lighter weight and improved fuel averages. The first car to boast such things will be the SL Class.


Daimler and Renault Nissan officially confirm partnership

What seemed like a rather awkward April Fools joke is now official: Daimler and Renault-Nissan will work together from now on, with the German company buying a 3.1% stake in the two companies, while the French-Japanese alliance will also acquire 3.1% in Daimler stock.

As was revealed last week, the two groups are going to collaborate heavily in terms of small cars, including the development of electric versions for the Smart ForTwo, Renault Twingo or the Twizzy EV. Platform and engine sharing is also included in the new partnership, as key assemblies from the Mercedes-Benz A and B Class are going to end up on the Renault Twingo and Clio.

Entry-level engines are going to be developed and swapped among the all of the various brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Smart or Nissan. The diesel know-how of MB is likely to be used by Nissan’s Infiniti division, to develop better engines targeted at European consumers. Also, a diesel engine and transmission from Renault Nissan is going to be used on the Mercedes-Benz Vito.

Expect many other collaborations between the brands, as representatives confirmed this partnerships is going to result in “billions of euros in annual savings for both sides.”

What do you think of this new partnership? Is it best for both companies? Share your thoughts below

Daimler kicks off partnership with Renault

First off, no it isn’t an April Fools joke (as far as we know). Daimler has announced that it will be debuting a partnership between it and Renault in terms of platform and engine sharing for future models.

As such, you’ll see quite a few components and new technologies be developed between brands like Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Renault or Nissan. It seems that Daimler has been shopping around for viable partnerships, and saw in Renault the best candidate. The research on which the two companies will collaborate are going to result in “billions of euros in annual savings for both sides.”

The major focus of the new partnership is the Project Edison initiative, consisting of a small city car platform, capable of support the replacements for the Smart ForTwo and Smart ForFour. Besides the Daimler models, Renault is keen to base the electric Twizy and the next Twingo on the same platform. As its name suggests, it will also support, besides regular powertrains, electric ones. The rear-wheel drive platform will no doubt be manufactured at Renault’s Slovenian plant.

Besides the work on the Edison platform, the two groups will also collaborate on future small engines, from 1.2 to 1.8-liters in capacity, set to appear under the bonnets of the future Mercedes-Benz A and B Classes, as well as the next Renault Clio or Megane models.

Autocar is also speculating that if the two corporations play together nicely, Mercedes-Benz might share some of its V6 or V8 engines with Infiniti, as well as new transmissions. Either way, this is one interesting partnership which will give BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroen something to think about.


China’s BYD reportedly interested in buying Maybach, Mercedes-Benz denies it

In the last few days, a report has been slowly gathering up momentum in the auto industry. It seems that China’s BYD might be interested in buying Mercedes-Benz‘s luxury brand Maybach, if it will be canceled in the near future.

Considering BYD and Daimler are already collaborating in the development of small electric cars for the Chinese market, and that the current Maybach production might be shut down, the move didn’t sound that unlikely.

Luckily for purists, representatives from both companies have come forward to deny the rumors. Daimler revealed that “Maybach is an important part of Daimler’s product portfolio. There is no other decision.” BYD also explained, through a spokesman, that “It’s not true, it’s market speculation.”

As you all know, Mercedes’ Maybach brand is the peak of luxury limousines, but having only sold 200 models in 2009, things are looking bleak. A new facelift for all the range is planned to be revealed soon, but the future isn’t bright for the luxury branch.


Page 1 of 212