The reinterpretation of automobile and tire technology of the ultra-high performance partners Maybach and Fulda
Just imagine an automobile that combines the elegance and first-class quality of a high-end limousine with the powerful suppleness of a sports coupé. Create a vehicle in your mind’s eye which, with an unladen weight of over 2.66 tons and the dimensions of a small transporter, achieves a maximum speed of over 350 km/h (217 mph). Conceive an ultra-high performance tire which not only copes with the aforementioned weight, the dimensions and the speed, but also makes the automobile safe, stable and comfortable. Such a vehicle and such tires do not exist? Now they do.
what was needed was a high-speed vehicle but not a racing car
For 99 years, Fulda has been making car tires. For most of this time, the company has advertised its products with special vehicles. Luxury buses, advertising vehicles with special bodies, high-speed buses for tire tests, a whole series of showtrucks, racing cars and – in the 1930s something quite special – streamlined car from the Maybach company which could conduct tire tests at speeds of over 200 km/h (124 mph).
66 years later: Fulda is introducing a new sophisticated high-tech tire to the market. For the most extreme dimension of this tire line, 315/25 ZR 23, licensed for speeds of more than 350 km/h (217 mph), and that as a series tire, not a racing tire, what was needed was a high-speed vehicle but not a racing car. A few years ago, one the most exclusive German automobile makes was revived, why not organize a joint project together once again, just like in the old days?
The contacts were made and thanks to René Staud, a world-class photographer of automobiles and an outstanding “networker” of DaimlerChrysler and Fulda Reifen, they were purposefully and effectively developed. Following several coordinating discussions with Leon Hustinx, Maybach’s manager, agreement was reached: Maybach would build a car for Fulda. Objective: to position the vehicle as an impressive ambassador for the new ultra-high performance tire generation Exelero.
An indispensable helper in the boat with the project partners: two professors and four students from Pforzheim Polytechnic’s Department of Transport Design. Together with the design professionals from DaimlerChrysler, under the direction of Professor Harald Leschke, the team went to work and after three-quarters of a year of promising design proposals, it was decided to realize the outline of the student Fredrik Burchhardt. He succeded in producing the most elegant symbiosis of design elements of former and present vehicle generations.
Three model construction phases in the manufacture of a special vehicle are decisive in the development process:
- the exterior design reference model (for the construction of the negative molds)
- the interior reference model and
- the chassis order with auxiliary frame
Based on detailed and strict time schedules, all three phases were realized simultaneously. The well-known Italian vehicle study manufacturer Stola in Turin was commissioned by DaimlerChrysler to build the Exelero. The sports coupé was also now given its final project name: Maybach Exelero.
On 31 May 2005 everything was ready. All three phases were completed. The 1:1 model for the exterior had been tested in the wind tunnel many times, modified and adapted. The interior details were fixed: natural leather, neoprene, coated punched aluminum sheet as well as carbon fiber in glossy black and red are the main materials. And the technicians who worked on the vehicle had arranged, rebuilt and made ready for use all the functions and the parts needed for this. Dipl.-Ing. Jürgen Weissinger, the responsible project technician and development manager at Maybach, connected the battery, turned the ignition key and the car growled into life. The short burst of gas suggested record speeds.