Leading through innovation.
Even more than its meticulous engineering.
What begins as a breakthrough becomes the standard for every car on the road.
Mercedes-Benz has a history of making history. Since the first car, Mercedes-Benz has set the pace for what all cars might someday become. With an ongoing stream of firsts in safety, performance and driving enjoyment, it's an ever more exciting roadmap to the future. And while there's a neverending roster of new achievements, there's only one reason the world's first automaker remains first in innovation. Carl Benz said it best: "The love of inventing never dies."
The first car.
In 1886, Carl Benz is awarded German patent number 37435 for a three-wheeled, self-propelled "Motorwagen". With a rear-mounted single-cylinder engine, the first automobile forever changes the way people move, and sparks a legacy of innovation that continues to this day.
1901 - Honeycomb radiator
Among the features of the first car to wear the Mercedes name is its closed cooling system, a highly efficient design made possible by the texture of its radiator.
1906 - Electric-powered car
Several Mercedes passenger cars, trucks, buses and fire service vehicles became available with battery-electric propulsion, an early ancestor of today's hybrid drive.
1910 - The multivalve engine
The Benz Special Touring Car is first to employ four valves per cylinder to improve both performance and fuel consumption.
1921 - Supercharged engine
A compressor driven by the engine noticeably increases the power of several Mercedes models by pressurizing the fuel-air mixture.
1931 - 4-wheel independent suspension
The Mercedes 170 features the first-ever fully independent suspension, which allows each wheel to respond individually. Along with a new hydraulic braking system, the 170 sets new performance and safety benchmarks that remain the gold standard today.
1936 - Diesel passenger car
The first diesel passenger car, the 260D, uses about 30% less fuel than its gasoline counterpart, and does so without the maintenance of ignition components.
1939 - Passenger-car safety development
Led by engineer Béla Barényi, Mercedes-Benz formally begins safety research with a test vehicle featuring a highly rigid floor, side-impact protection and a collapsible steering column.
1949 - Conical-pin door lock
Designed to help prevent the doors from opening in an accident, this patented, extremely strong door latch is the first of its kind.
1951 - Crumple zone (series production: 1959)
Béla Barényi's research leads to a patent for the first safety car body with a rigid passenger cell and defined deformation zones, a concept used universally today.
1958 - Crash testing program
For the first time, development of every new Mercedes includes an increasingly rigorous regimen of crash-testing. This vital learning tool was initially performed outdoors.
1963 - Gated shifter
On the first SL to offer an automatic transmission, an ingenious notched layout facilitated selection of all four forward gears without a push button release. It remains an industry standard.
1973 - Offset-frontal crash test
One of many evolutions of the crash test program, the "partial overlap" barrier crash more accurately simulates the concentration of forces in real-world collisions.
1978 - Antilock Braking System (ABS)
A concept first unveiled in 1970, ABS helps the driver retain steering control under heavy braking by preventing wheel lockup. It remains both a milestone in automotive safety and a cornerstone, with the ability to individually brake wheels serving as a fundamental element of countless future breakthroughs.
1982 - Multilink suspension
Debuting on the compact 190-Class, this breakthrough 5-arm rear suspension design provides a new level of handling precision, ride comfort and active safety.
1985 - 4MATIC all-wheel drive (AWD)
The AWD E-Class debuts along with two electronic traction systems for rear-wheel-drive cars: the automatic differential lock (ASD) and automatic skid control (ASR).
1991 - CFC-free climate control
Long before other automakers, Mercedes-Benz removes these eco-unfriendly chemicals not just from its air conditioning systems but the entire manufacturing process.
1992 - Controller Area Network (CAN)
A breakthrough in automotive electronics, the networking of numerous components allows more precise and rapid control, along with new levels of feature interaction.
1995 - Electronic Stability Program (ESP®)
Perhaps the most important safety breakthrough since the air bag, ESP helps maintain control in corners and evasive maneuvers. It is now required by law on all cars.
2002 - 1997 - SmartKey
Changing the tide in both convenience and antitheft protection, the compact SmartKey uses an electronic code to unlock and start the car, rather than a mechanical lock.
2002 - PRE-SAFE®
A groundbreaking system that can help prepare the occupants for an accident before it happens, PRE-SAFE can detect that certain types of collision might be imminent. In the precious moments before impact, it can snug the front seat belts and adjust the front head restraints to help optimize the effectiveness of the restraint systems.
2006 - DISTRONIC PLUS with PRE-SAFE Brake
Even when not using the cruise control, it looks ahead for stopped traffic, alerts the driver, and even starts the braking process to help reduce the speed of impact.
2010 - ATTENTION ASSIST
After measuring over 70 parameters in the first few minutes of a drive, this innovation can help detect signs of drowsiness and audibly alert the driver to take a break.