The History and Heritage of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has a rich history and heritage of leading the automotive industry with new developments and changing the way the world drives. From creating the very first petrol-powered car to their early production of electric vehicles, this article takes a look at the beginnings of Mercedes-Benz and some key innovations that have kept them at the forefront of the automotive industry for nearly 150 years.

The Beginnings of the Mercedes Brand

In January 1886, Karl Benz patented the world’s first petrol-powered car. Benz came from an impoverished background but received a good education that saw him study mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe, graduating in 1864.

First petrol engine: CC BY-SA 2.0 de,

In 1879, he received patent approval for the Benz Patent Motorwagen. This innovation was adapted by Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach and put to market by Daimler-Motoren- Gesellschaft (DMG) in 1901 as the very first Mercedes automobile.

Emil Jellenik, an automobile entrepreneur and racing car driver, is responsible for creating the Mercedes brand for DMG, having named that first Mercedes after his daughter, Mercedes Jellenick. In 1899, Jellenick drove at a race in Nice under the pseudonym ‘Monsieur Mercédѐs’. It was this race and first use of his daughter’s name for racing that gave birth to the brand name Mercedes-Benz.

However, it wasn’t until 1926 that the first Mercedes-Benz vehicles were produced after Karl Benz’s and Gottlieb Daimler’s companies merged to become Daimler-Benz; basing their headquarters in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

A History of Innovation and Cutting Edge Design for Improved Safety

While electric vehicles may be thought of as a recent transport innovation, 1906 saw some of the first electric-powered vehicles being used on roads. DMG began to produce electric and hybrid vehicles with wheel-hub motors at this time. However, as a single battery charge gave the electric vehicles a range of just 70 km and top speeds of 18 to 20 km/h, the electric car lost popularity in 1935 and the internal combustion engine came to rule the roads.

Picture from JG photography via Unsplash.comThe next major innovation by Mercedes-Benz that changed the automotive industry came in 1931. The world’s first 4-wheel independent suspension system allowed each wheel to respond to the road autonomously, offering the driver and passenger a much smoother ride. At the same time, their new hydraulic braking system increased performance for the Mercedes 170, setting a higher safety benchmark for other automotive manufacturers.

1949 and 1951 delivered further safety innovations that set Mercedes-Benz apart from their competitors. The conical-pin door lock was patented by Mercedes-Benz in ‘49 and implemented to prevent car doors from popping open during an accident. ’51 saw the development and adoption of ‘the crumple zone’. Bela Barenyi’s research resulted in automobile bodies incorporating defined reformation zones and rigid passenger cells to improve passive vehicle safety.

Mercedes-Benz of the Future

Following on from this impressive history of innovation and continuing to develop some of the best vehicles today, Mercedes-Benz became the biggest selling premium vehicle brand in the world last year, selling 2.31 million passenger cars. This year sees the release a number of new hybrid and electric only Mercedes-Benzs.Photo courtesy of

A vast improvement on the ‘Mercedes Electrique’ of the early 1900s, Mercedes’ all-new EQC a 100% electric premium SUV is due for release later this year. This SUV is powered by 2 asynchronous motors with a total capacity of 300 kW (408 hp) and can reach a top speed of 111 mph, accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.1 seconds. This all electric vehicle is expected to be able to cover around 200 miles on a single charge.

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