Mercedes-Benz (German pronunciation: [mɛɐ̯ˈtseːdəsˌbɛnts, -dɛs-] ), commonly referred to as Mercedes and sometimes as Benz, is a German luxury and commercial vehicle automotive brand established in 1926. Mercedes-Benz AG (a Mercedes-Benz Group subsidiary established in 2019) is headquartered in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Mercedes-Benz AG produces consumer luxury vehicles and light commercial vehicles badged as Mercedes-Benz. From November 2019 onwards, Mercedes-Benz-badged heavy commercial vehicles (trucks and buses) are managed by Daimler Truck, a former part of the Mercedes-Benz Group turned into an independent company in late 2021. In 2018, Mercedes-Benz was the largest brand of premium vehicles in the world, having sold 2.31 million passenger cars.
The brand's origins lie in Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft's 1901 Mercedes and Carl Benz's 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen, which is widely regarded as the first internal combustion engine in a self-propelled automobile. The slogan for the brand is "the best or nothing".
Mercedes-Benz traces its origins to Karl Benz's first internal combustion engine in a car, seen in the Benz Patent Motorwagen – financed by Bertha Benz's dowry and patented in January 1886 – and Gottlieb Daimler and their engineer Wilhelm Maybach's conversion of a stagecoach, with the addition of a petrol engine, introduced later that year. The Mercedes automobile was first marketed in 1901 by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG).
Emil Jellinek-Mercedes, a Jewish-Austrian automobile entrepreneur who worked with DMG, registered the trademark in 1902, naming the 1901 Mercedes 35 hp after his daughter Mercedes Jellinek. Jellinek was a businessman and marketing strategist who promoted "horseless" Daimler automobiles among the highest circles of society. At the time, it was a meeting place for the haute volée of France and Europe, especially in winter. His customers included the Rothschild family and other wealthy clients, but as early as 1901, he was selling Mercedes cars in the "New World" as well, including to billionaires Rockefeller, Astor, Morgan, and Taylor. At the Nice race he attended in 1899, Jellinek drove under the pseudonym "Monsieur Mercédès". Many consider that race the birth of Mercedes-Benz as a brand. In 1901, the name "Mercedes" was re-registered by DMG worldwide as a protected trademark. The first Mercedes-Benz branded vehicles were produced in 1926, following the merger of Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler's companies into the Daimler-Benz company on 28 June of the same year.
Gottlieb Daimler was born on 17 March 1834 in Schorndorf. After training as a gunsmith and working in France, he attended the Polytechnic School in Stuttgart from 1857 to 1859. After completing various technical activities in France and England, he started working as a draftsman in Geislingen in 1862. At the end of 1863, he was appointed workshop inspector at a machine-tool factory in Reutlingen, where he met Wilhelm Maybach in 1865.
Throughout the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz produced the 770 model, a car that was notably popular throughout Germany's Nazi period. Adolf Hitler was known to have driven in a model of this car during his time in power, with modified custom bulletproof windshields. Most of the currently surviving 770 models were sold at auctions to private buyers. One of the cars is currently on display at the War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. The pontiff's Popemobile has often been sourced from Mercedes-Benz.
From 1937 onward, Daimler Benz focused increasingly on military products such as the LG3000 lorry and the DB600 and the DB601 aero engines. To build the latter, in 1936, it built a factory hidden in the forest at Genshagen around 10 km south of Berlin. By 1942, the company had mostly stopped producing cars, and was now devoted to war production. According to its statement, in 1944, almost half of its 63,610 employees were forced labourers, prisoners of war, or concentration-camp detainees. Another source quotes this figure at 46,000. The company later paid $12 million in reparations to the labourers' families.
In 1958, the two companies began a partnership to sell their cars in the United States with Studebaker. A few American-based Daimler Benz dealerships were converted into Mercedes-Benz dealerships when Daimler's non-Mercedes-partnered company closed in 1966.
Over the decades, Mercedes-Benz has introduced many electronic and mechanical innovations and safety features that later became common. Currently, Mercedes-Benz is one of the best-known and longest-standing automotive brands in the world.
In November 2019, Daimler AG announced that Mercedes-Benz, until that point a company marque, would be spun off into a separate, wholly owned subsidiary called Mercedes-Benz AG. The new subsidiary would manage the Mercedes-Benz car and van business. Mercedes-Benz-badged trucks and buses would be part of the Daimler Truck AG subsidiary.
For information relating to the three-pointed star symbol of the brand, see under the title Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, including the merger into Daimler-Benz.
In May 2022, Mercedes-Benz announced that it has recently sold the most expensive car at the price of $142 million (€135 million). The car is a very rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR that has been kept in the German automaker's collection and bought by a private owner. Mercedes in an announcement said that the sale will be used to establish the Mercedes-Benz Fund.
In June 2022, Mercedes-Benz recalled almost one million vehicles built between 2004 and 2015, due to potential problems with their braking system, caused by possible "advanced corrosion".
As of the Daimler AG company split, the Mercedes-Benz Cars division now handled the Mercedes-Benz- and the Smart-branded cars' production.
Mercedes-AMG became a majority-owned division of Mercedes-Benz in 1999. The company was integrated into DaimlerChrysler in 1999, and became Mercedes-Benz AMG on 1 January 1999.
Daimler's ultraluxury Maybach brand was under the Mercedes-Benz Cars division until December 2012, when production was stopped due to decreased sales. It now exists under the Mercedes-Maybach name, with the models being luxury-focused, enhanced models of Mercedes-Benz cars, such as the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600. The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 SUV debuted in November 2019.
Daimler partnered with BYD Auto to make and sell a battery-electric car called Denza in China. In 2016, Daimler announced plans to sell Mercedes-Benz-badged fully electric battery cars in China. Beijing Benz is a joint venture with the BAIC Group to produce the Mercedes-Benz branded cars in China.
Other than in its native birthplace, Germany, Mercedes-Benz vehicles are or have been partly manufactured or assembled in:
Mercedes-Benz normally has a strong reputation for quality and durability. Some objective measures looking at passenger vehicles, such as J. D. Power surveys, demonstrated a downturn in reputation in these 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 and earning several awards for its newer models. For 2008, Mercedes-Benz's initial quality rating improved by yet another mark, to 4th place. On top of this accolade, it also received the Platinum Plant Quality Award for their Mercedes branded Sindelfingen, Germany body assembly plant. J. D. Power's 2011 US Initial Quality and Vehicle Dependability Studies both ranked Mercedes-Benz vehicles above average in build quality and reliability. In J. D. Power's United Kingdom Survey in 2011, Mercedes cars were rated above average. Additionally, iSeeCars.com study for Reuters in 2014 found Mercedes to have the lowest vehicle recall rate out of competitors.
Mercedes-Benz offers a versatile range of consumer-passenger, light commercial and heavy commercial equipment. These vehicles are manufactured in multiple countries worldwide. The Smart marque of city cars are also produced by Daimler AG.
Mercedes-Benz currently offers three types of vans; Citan, Vito, and Sprinter. They are all produced by Daimler AG.
Since December 2021, the Mercedes-Benz Trucks division is part of the Daimler Truck company and includes other sub-companies that were part of the DaimlerChrysler merger. Gottlieb Daimler sold the world's first truck in 1886. Their first factory to be built outside Germany after World War II was in Argentina. They originally built trucks, many of which were modified by third parties to be used as buses, popularly named Colectivo.
Mercedes-Benz has been producing buses since 1895 in Mannheim, Germany. Since 1995, the brands of Mercedes-Benz's buses and coaches are under the umbrella of EvoBus GmbH, since December 2021 belonging to Daimler Truck AG. EvoBus, through its regional subsidiaries, markets them in European countries, while in other regions of the world marketing and sales duties are passed to regional subsidiaries of Daimler Truck. Mercedes-Benz produces a wide range of buses and coaches, mainly for Europe and Asia. The first model was produced by Karl Benz in 1895.
The Mercedes-Benz 600 or 600S Pullman Guard limousines offer the option of armour-plating and have been used by diplomats worldwide.
Until 1994, Mercedes-Benz utilized an alphanumeric system for categorizing their vehicles, consisting of a number sequence approximately equal to the engine's displacement in liters multiplied by 100, followed by an arrangement of alphabetical suffixes, indicating body style and engine type.
Some models in the 1950s also had lower-case letters (b, c, and d) to indicate specific trim levels. For other models, the numeric part of the designation does not match the engine displacement. This was done to show the model's position in the model range independent of displacement or in the price matrix. For these vehicles, the actual displacement in litres is suffixed to the model designation. An exception was the 190-class with the numeric designation of "190" as to denote its entry-level in the model along with the displacement label on the right side of the boot (190E 2.3 for 2.3-litre 4-cylinder petrol motor, 190D 2.5 for 2.5-litre 5-cylinder diesel motor, and so forth). Some older models (such as the SS and SSK) did not have a number as part of the designation at all.
For the 1994 model year, Mercedes-Benz revised the naming system. Models were divided into "classes" denoted by an arrangement of up to three letters (see "Current model range" above), followed by a three-digit (or two-digit for AMG models, with the number approximately equal to the displacement in litres multiplied by 10) number related to the engine displacement as before. Variants of the same model such as an estate version or a vehicle with a diesel engine are no longer given a separate letter. The SLR and SLS supercars do not carry a numerical designation.
Today, many numerical designations no longer reflect the engine's actual displacement, but more of the relative performance and marketing position. Despite its engine displacement in two litres, the powerplant in the A45 AMG produces 355 brake horsepower so the designation is higher as to indicate the greater performance. Another example is the E250 CGI having greater performance than the E200 CGI due to the different engine tuning even though both have 1.8-litre engines. From the marketing perspective, E200 seems more "upscale" than E180. Recent AMG models use the "63" designation (in honor of the 1960s 6.3-litre M100 engine) despite being equipped with either a 6.2-litre (M156), a 5.5-litre (M157) or even a 4.0-litre engine.
Some models carry further designations indicating special features:
Model designation badges can be removed at the request of the customer.
Rationalisation of the model nomenclature was announced in November 2014 for future models. The changes consolidate many confusing nomenclature and their placements in the model range, for example—the CL-Class is now called the S-Class Coupé. The naming structure is divided into four categories: core, off-road vehicle/SUV, 4-door coupé, and roadster. AMG GT and V-Class are unaffected by the change. In October 2016, Mercedes unveiled the X-Class; a pickup truck built on the Nissan Navara. At the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the company announced the EQ, a family of upcoming battery electric vehicles based on a modular platform, expected to represent up to 25% of its global sales by 2025.
Note: The CLA is positioned between the A- and B-Class models, while the CLS sits between the E- and S-Classes.
In addition to the revised nomenclature, Mercedes-Benz has new suffix nomenclature for the drive systems.
The revised A45 AMG for 2016 model year on has shifted the model designation to the right side while AMG is on the left side. This trend commenced with Mercedes-Maybach with MAYBACH on the left and S500/S600 on the right.
Mercedes-Benz has developed multi-concept cars with alternative propulsion, such as hybrid-electric, fully electric, and fuel-cell powertrains. At the 2007 Frankfurt motor show, Mercedes-Benz showed seven hybrid models, including the F700 concept car, powered by a hybrid-electric drivetrain featuring the DiesOtto engine. In 2009, Mercedes-Benz displayed three BlueZERO concepts at the North American International Auto Show. Each car features a different powertrain – battery-electric, fuel-cell electric, and gasoline-electric hybrid. In the same year, Mercedes also showed the Vision S500 PHEV concept with a 19 miles (31 km) all-electric range and CO2 emissions of 74 grams/km in the New European Driving Cycle.
Since 2002, Mercedes-Benz has developed the F-Cell fuel cell vehicle. The current version, based on the B-Class, has a 250-mile range and is available for lease, with volume production scheduled to begin in 2014. Mercedes has also announced the SLS AMG E-Cell, a fully electric version of the SLS sports car, with deliveries expected in 2013. The Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHYBRID was launched in 2009, and is the first production automotive hybrid in the world to use a lithium-ion battery. In mid-2010, production commenced on the Vito E-Cell all-electric van.
In 2008, Mercedes-Benz announced that it would have a demonstration fleet of small electric cars in two to three years. Mercedes-Benz and Smart are preparing for the widespread uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK by beginning the installation of recharging points across their dealer networks. So far 20 Elektrobay recharging units, produced in the UK by Brighton-based Elektromotive, have been installed at seven locations as part of a pilot project, and further expansion of the initiative is planned later in 2010.
In the United States, Mercedes-Benz was assessed a record US$30.66 million fine for their decision to not meet the federal corporate average fuel economy standard in 2009. Certain Mercedes-Benz cars, including the S550 and all AMG models sold in the United States, also face an additional gas guzzler tax. However, newer AMG models fitted with the M157 engine will not be subject to the gas-guzzler tax, due to improved fuel economy, and newer models powered by the M276 and M278 engines will have better fuel economy. In 2008, Mercedes also had the worst CO2 average of all major European manufacturers, ranking 14th out of 14 manufacturers. Mercedes was also the worst manufacturer in 2007 and 2006 in terms of average CO2 levels, with 181 g and 188 g of CO2 emitted per km, respectively.
Mercedes-Benz paid an additional US$38 million for failing to meet its CAFE standards for model years 2008–2011.
In May 2017, Mercedes partnered with Vivint Solar to develop a solar-energy home storage battery.
In February 2018, it was announced that Mercedes cabin air filters earned the Asthma and Allergy Friendly Certification.
Mercedes opened its sixth battery factory in 2018. Critics deemed the marque's EQS sedan a tough competitor to Tesla, Inc. The six factories are established across three continents.
The brand has also launched its electric EQ brand with the EQC SUV which was set for production in the year 2019. In September 2018, Mercedes unveiled the EQC, its first fully electric car, at an event in Stockholm.
Mercedes unveiled the VISION AVTR at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The car was inspired by the 2009 science fiction film Avatar. Whilst the AVTR is a concept car, it is said to "hold clues on features bound for next-generation Mercedes-Benz cars".
2022 will be the year in which Daimler has said that the company will have invested $11 billion to ensure that every Mercedes-Benz has a fully electric or hybrid version available on the market.
While releasing details of the project, Markus Schäfer said,
"Our electric vehicles will be built in six plants on three continents. We address every market segment: from the smart fortwo seater to the large SUV. The battery is the key component of e-mobility. As batteries are the heart of our electric vehicles we put a great emphasis on building them in our own factories. With our global battery network, we are in an excellent position: As we are close to our vehicle plants we can ensure the optimal supply of production. In case of a short-term high demand in another part of the world our battery factories are also well prepared for export. The electric initiative of Mercedes-Benz Cars is right on track. Our global production network is ready for e-mobility. We are electrifying the future." After Audi declared that it would cut more than 9,000 jobs by 2025, the owner of Mercedes-Benz announced that the company will shed around 10,000 jobs worldwide to focus on electric cars.
In January 2021, Mercedes-Benz revealed its new electric SUV, the EQA, which will have a range of 426 kilometres and will be on sale in Europe starting 4 February.
The two companies which were merged to form the Mercedes-Benz brand in 1926 had both already enjoyed success in the new sport of motor racing throughout their separate histories. A single Benz competed in the world's first motor race, the 1894 Paris–Rouen, where Émile Roger finished 14th in 10 hours 1 minute. Throughout its long history, the company has been involved in a range of motorsport activities, including sports car racing and 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 disaster, where a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR rammed another car (an Austin-Healey), took off into the stands, and killed more than 80 spectators. Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson won the 1955 Mille Miglia road race in Italy during a record-breaking drive with an average speed of almost 98 mph in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.
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 One with Sauber. The 1990s saw Mercedes-Benz partner with British 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 with the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, which took the company to two titles in FIA's GT1 class.
Mercedes-Benz is currently active in two motorsport categories, Formula One and GT racing.
Mercedes-Benz took part in the world championship in 1954 and 1955, but despite being successful with two championship titles for Juan-Manuel Fangio, the company left the sport after just two seasons.
Mercedes-Benz returned as an engine manufacturer in 1994, with the engines being designed and manufactured by Ilmor in Brixworth. It initially partnered with Sauber, before switching to McLaren in 1995. Although the Mercedes engines were not successful at first, they later won drivers' championships for Mika Häkkinen in 1998 and 1999, and for Lewis Hamilton in 2008, as well as a constructors' championship in 1998. Mercedes part-owned McLaren, and the collaboration had been extended into the production of road-going cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
In 2007, McLaren-Mercedes was fined a record US$100 million for stealing confidential Ferrari technical data.
In 2009, Ross Brawn's newly conceived Formula One team, Brawn GP used Mercedes engines to win the titles. At the end of the season, Mercedes-Benz sold its 40% stake in McLaren to the McLaren Group and bought 70% of the Brawn GP team jointly with an Abu Dhabi-based investment consortium. Brawn GP was renamed Mercedes GP for the 2010 season and became the main team for Mercedes-Benz. The company continued providing engines to other teams under customer relationships.
After major rule changes in 2014, Mercedes clinched the drivers' and constructors' titles with drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, after dominating much of the season. Mercedes repeated the feat in 2015, winning 16 out of 19 races, and again in 2016, winning 19 of the 21 races. In the following years, Mercedes continued their success by winning the drivers' championships from 2017 to 2020 and the constructors' championships from 2017 to 2021, becoming the first team to win seven consecutive "double-championships". In these years, Hamilton was the champion in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, while Rosberg won in 2016. Their unbeaten streak was broken in 2021, when Max Verstappen of Red Bull-Honda won the drivers' championship.
Prior to pre-season testing of the 2019–20 Formula E Championship, it was announced that Mercedes, through its EQ branch, would join the championship with drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and 2019 FIA Formula 2 champion Nyck De Vries. The team named their Spark Gen2 challenger the Mercedes EQ Silver Arrow 01.
In June 1909, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) registered both a three-pointed and a four-pointed star as trademarks, but only the three-pointed star was used. To DMG, the star symbolized Gottlieb Daimler's aims for universal motorization: on land, water and in the air.
Numerous technological innovations have been introduced on Mercedes-Benz automobiles throughout the many years of their production, including:
Mercedes-Benz won the Safety Award at the 2007 What Car? Awards.
In the 1980s Mercedes built the world's first robot car, together with the team of Professor Ernst Dickmanns at Bundeswehr University Munich. Encouraged in part 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. In 1995 Dickmanns' re-engineered autonomous S-Class Mercedes took a long trip from Munich in Bavaria to Copenhagen in Denmark, and back. On highways, the robot achieved speeds exceeding 175 km/h (109 mph) (permissible in some areas of the German Autobahn).
In October 2015, the company introduced the Vision Tokyo, a five-seat self-driving electric van powered by a hybrid hydrogen fuel-cell system. The super-sleek van is touted as "a chill-out zone in the midst of megacity traffic mayhem."
Several companies have become car tuners (or modifiers) of Mercedes Benz, in order to increase performance and/or luxury to a given model. 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. The 2009 SLS AMG, a revival of the 300SL Gullwing, is the first car to be entirely developed by AMG.
In football (soccer), Mercedes-Benz sponsored the Germany national team until 2018. Mercedes-Benz sponsors Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart and provided until June 2023 the naming rights for their stadium, the former Mercedes-Benz Arena. The company formerly held a ten-year naming rights contract to the Caesars Superdome, an American football stadium in New Orleans, from 2011 to 2021. On 24 August 2015, Mercedes-Benz was announced as the naming rights sponsor for the Atlanta Falcons' new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, (Mercedes-Benz's US headquarters are in Greater Atlanta) which opened in August 2017.
Mercedes-Benz worked with English magician Steven Frayne, also known as Dynamo, to create a video called Dynamo vs Coulthard. Formula One driver David Coulthard drove Dynamo around a track at race-speed in a Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, before Dynamo successfully drove around the same track in the same car whilst blindfolded and surrounded by pyrotechnics. The stunt was part of the finale for Series 3 of Dynamo: Magician Impossible, screened on UK television channel Watch.
To promote the release of Mario Kart 8, Nintendo and Mercedes-Benz partnered up to have three of their cars in their history, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA, the 1957 SL 300 Roadster, and the 1934 W25 Silver Arrow as karts in the game. As part of the partnership, Mario, Luigi, and Peach appeared in Japanese commercials to promote the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The Mercedes-Benz was chosen by Mitsubishi Electric as an official sponsor of AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022, along with Maspion Holdings, Wuling, Gree, Yanmar and Tiger Brokers.
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