- Give inspiration to the market and sound out customer interest
- Innovative technology sets industry trends
- Many a new vehicle concept finds its way to market
Technological development has always been a spur to progress. When Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz designed the first high-speed petrol engine in 1885 and the Patent Motor Car in 1886, respectively, both these events were revolutionary, not just for automotive development but also at the wider social level. In their wake, personal mobility was soon on an unprecedented rise. That trend has continued to this day, as new technologies and ideas keep on coming, opening up new opportunities for a mobile world.
The Daimler brands keep up the pace with a steady stream of new ideas. To provide stimuli, the company for example regularly showcases its ideas for future models or model series in the form of concept vehicles. These concept vehicles feature innovative technology which is ready for commercialization – or in some cases has already been commercialised – in production models. In this way Mercedes-Benz sets important industry trends, in some cases preparing the way for market adoption of novel vehicle concepts. The markets into which the production models are launched are always in movement, reflecting constantly changing lifestyles, social trends and values. This in turn creates constantly changing expectations toward the car. Because what is all the rage today may have fallen out of favour by tomorrow. Another function of Mercedes-Benz concept vehicles is to enter into a dialogue with customers. Since the success or failure of a new model will ultimately depend on their verdict, it is important to get to know that opinion as early as possible.
Daimler draws a distinction between concept vehicles and a number of other, related types of vehicle, namely:
Research vehicles which combine a variety of boldly innovative technologies in a form which can be visualised, driven and readily evaluated. A detailed press kit on Mercedes-Benz research vehicles is available on the Internet.
Technology demonstrators are current production vehicles which are equipped with new technology and used in field trials. The company’s Research unit, for instance, used numerous modified A-Class models to test fuel cell, and electric, drive systems.
Experimental vehicles are close relatives of research vehicles. Like research vehicles they take new technologies out of the laboratory and onto the test track where they are subjected to practical trials. These vehicles usually have no bodywork.
Design studies are feasibility studies which are used to present new ideas in the form of a complete vehicle. Usually these studies are not fully operational. An example is the NAFA (Nahverkehrs-Fahrzeug, urban and short-distance vehicle) concept, which was developed more than twenty years ago.