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Mercedes-Benz firsts


In honour of Nico Rosberg’s and Mercedes AMG Petronas maiden Formula 1 victory in China, we compiled a list of just a few of the many  firsts achieved by Mercedes cars on the road and track over the years.

The first car

The first production automobile powered by internal combustion engine was designed and built in 1894 by Karl Benz. Benz had previously developed the Motorwagen in 1885. The Motorwagen had three wheels and was the first true internal combustion engine automobile. Bertha Benz, wife of Karl, completed the first long distance automobile trip using the Motorwagen. Without her husband’s knowledge she travelled the sixty six miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim to visit her mother.

The first land speed record

The first land speed record recorded electronically was set by Frenchman Victor Hémery at the Brooklands circuit. He used his Benz No 1 to achieve a top speed of 115mph over a mile. This record lasted for five years until L.G. Hornstead broke it, again at Brooklands and again using a Benz. This time the Benz No 3 carried Hornstead to a top speed of 124mph. This record lasted for another ten years.

The first driverless car

Surprising the first driverless or robotic car appeared in the 1980s. Mercedes teamed up with Professor Ernst Dickmanns of Bundeswehr University to test and develop a vision-guided Mercedes-Benz van. The project was a success with the van travelling safely at up to 100km/h on closed off streets. Later in 1995 Dickmanns and Mercedes developed a driverless S-Class which was even more successful. The S-Class was tested on a 1600km journey from Munich to Copenhagen. 95 per cent of the journey was successfully completed automatically, the car was able to drive in traffic and pass other vehicles. The work of Mercedes-Benz and Ernst Dickmanns continues to inspire research into this field today.

Reliability in Formula 1

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of world motorsport making Mercedes-Benz’s achievements in the sport all the more impressive. Jenson Button during his 2009 championship year won the Bahrain, Spain and Monaco Grand Prix using the same Mercedes-Benz V8. This is the first and only time a Formula 1 engine has achieved this feat of endurance. The Mercedes-Benz’s engines used by the likes of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are prepared by in Brixworth by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains and are widely considered the best engine in Formula 1.

The first airbags

The first modern airbags were first introduced in 1981 by Mercedes-Benz after thirteen years of research. Mercedes-Benz conducted over 250 vehicle crash tests, 2,500 sled tests and drove seven million kilometres in trails during the development process. Since then this innovation has saved over 14,200 lives in the United States alone, according to research. The airbag is just one of many safety innovations introduced by Mercedes-Benz. Other innovations included anti-lock braking system and the seat belt tensioner. In 2007, Mercedes-Benz won the Safety Award at the What Car? Awards in recognition of decades of safety innovations.