Archive for February 2011

Mercedes-Benz named as UK's No.1 Consumer Superbrand


London, United Kingdom, Feb 28, 2011

Mercedes-Benz has been crowned the UK’s number one Consumer Superbrand for 2011, toppling last year’s winner Microsoft which has dropped into 6th place. This is the first time in five years that the top spot has not been claimed by either Microsoft or Google. The number two spot goes to luxury watch brand Rolex which placed in the same position last year, whilst the BBC has come in 3rd position, having placed in the top five for the last five years.

The annual Consumer Superbrands results follow a robust research process administered independently by The Centre for Brand Analysis, which analysed the views of over 2,000 members of the British public. The annual Consumer Superbrands survey, now in its 12th year, has become a key barometer of the strength of brands across a wide variety of sectors.

Eight of the top ten Consumer Superbrands remain the same as last year and includes British Airways, which despite a very challenging year still retains its place in the hearts of the British public.

Stephen Cheliotis, Chairman of the Expert Council & CEO, The Centre for Brand Analysis comments: “Mercedes-Benz has had a consistently strong performance over the last five years having been in the top ten since 2006, so it’s great to see the brand finally come out on top especially in their 125th anniversary year. This year’s Superbrands 500 features a combination of consistency and volatility, although as ever, those at the top tend to be more consistent performers.”

Wilfried Steffen, President and CEO Mercedes-Benz UK adds: “Winning the Superbrands survey is very special for Mercedes-Benz, and I am delighted that we’ve achieved the coveted number one spot in our 125th year. Everybody in the company is absolutely committed to delivering exceptional levels of customer service, and this survey result shows that these efforts are paying off, because the British public voted for us. Winning Superbrands UK proves that Mercedes-Benz is as desirable now as it ever was, and throughout 2011 we will continue launching a wide range of innovative new products and customer service initiatives across the country.”

The top 10 Consumer Superbrands 2011 are:

Rank 2011 Top 10

Interestingly, the two new entries into the top ten this year are both automotive brands in the form of BMW in 7th place, and a resurgent Jaguar in 10th. Two brands dropping out of the top ten from last year are LEGO, which falls to 16th place, and Encyclopaedia Britannica which drops down to 30th, both of which are still very credible performances.

Stephen Cheliotis, Chairman of the Expert Council & CEO, The Centre for Brand Analysis comments: “As 2011 looks to be another tough year for consumer brands, the leading Superbrands can hopefully offset the worst of the downturn by stimulating demand and loyalty over and above the levels its rivals command. The management and employees at each of these companies and organisations should be extremely proud of their brand’s ongoing success and status as a Superbrand.”

Concurrent with this survey Superbrands also published the 2011 Business Superbrands listing, which was topped by Rolls-Royce Group.

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Mercedes-Benz F-CELL World Drive in North America - Leg 6: From Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans

On February 25th, 2011, the F-CELL World Drive embarked on the first leg in the USA from Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans. From 25th until 27 th of February, the vehicles passed through the four states Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and thereby covered 1.460 kilometers.

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Daimler AG and Aabar Investments PJS complete full acquisition of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.


Stuttgart/Brackley, Germany/United Kingdom, Feb 28, 2011

• Daimler AG and Aabar Investments PJS acquire 100 per cent of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
• Daimler AG and Aabar Investments PJS acquire remaining 24.9 per cent from the team management
• Dr. Dieter Zetsche: “This majority stake holding demonstrates our determination to build a long-term Formula 1 involvement on an even more successful platform.”

Daimler AG today announced that, together with Aabar Investment PJS, it has acquired the remaining 24.9 per cent stake in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd located in Brackley, UK from the management team led by Team Principal Ross Brawn. Daimler and Aabar together now own 100 per cent of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix. Daimler has increased its stake from 45.1 per cent to 60 per cent, while Aabar has increased its stake from 30 to 40 per cent. Aabar is the biggest single shareholder of Daimler AG, with nine per cent. The acquisition is conditional on clearance from the German Bundeskartellamt.

On 16 November 2009, Daimler AG acquired a 45.1 per cent stake in Brawn GP, the 2009 world champion team, and together with Aabar held a majority stake of 75.1 per cent.

The acquisition by Daimler AG of a majority shareholding in the Formula 1 team sends a clear signal concerning the long-term ambitions for the company’s premium brand in Formula 1.

“This majority stake holding demonstrates our determination to build a long-term Formula 1 involvement on an even more successful platform,” explained Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Our company’s founders invented the automobile 125 years ago and the very first Mercedes was a racing car. These are the reasons why we see our Formula 1 programme as an important element of our brand history. The acquisition of a majority stake holding in our Silver Arrows team sends a clear signal that we intend to achieve technical and sporting success on world motorsport’s biggest and most important stage – and to do so in cost-effective conditions.”

His Excellency Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar Investments PJS continued: “Aabar’s and Daimler’s joint investment in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix is a further testament to our strong commitment to the sport of Formula 1 and to Aabar’s strategic partnership with Daimler. As Abu Dhabi is increasingly placing itself as a recognised host of international sporting events, and particularly in light of the continuing success of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Aabar is proud to be supporting one of the most successful Formula 1 racing teams in the field. Aabar wishes Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix a successful start to the 2011 season.”

Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Development Mercedes-Benz Cars, and Chairman of the Board of Mercedes Grand Prix Ltd., added: "Our acquisition of the remaining 24.9 per cent together with our partner Aabar underlines our long-term commitment to Formula 1, the pinnacle of motor racing and the best international motorsport platform for demonstrating our willingness to compete and our technical expertise. This step will bring the colleagues from our Formula 1 chassis and engine groups even closer together and thereby help to develop our team step-by-step into a winning Formula 1 outfit. We now also fulfill Ross' wish of being in a position to focus wholly on the complex technical challenges of Formula 1 and on his role as our team principal."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix commented: “Daimler and Aabar’s acquisition of the remaining 24.9 per cent stake in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix will be a further step in the consolidation and strengthening of our team for the future. Motor racing, particularly Formula 1, is a very specialised industry, and we are privileged to have such strong and understanding partners as Daimler and Aabar to support our joint ambitions. I remain fully committed to our team for the long-term, along with the management team and all of our employees. We all look forward to the challenge of making our team successful, and proudly representing Mercedes-Benz and the racing tradition of the Silver Arrows.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport stated: “It is a logical step to acquire the remaining 24.9 pr cent of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix together with our partner Aabar. Daimler and Aabar will be joint owners, in the ratio of 60/40, of our Formula 1 company and Silver Arrows works team. This lays the foundations for a successful long-term involvement at the pinnacle of motorsport.”

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Mercedes-Benz Vito wins the Arctic Van Test


- Independent motoring jury conducts a van test in Finland
- Mercedes-Benz Vito 116 CDI wins first place
- The new Vito performs impressively

Stuttgart, Germany/Finland, Feb 28, 2011 – Even in snow and at extremely low temperatures, the new Mercedes-Benz Vito was able to show its strengths and prevail against its competitors. As in previous years, at the invitation of the Finnish motoring magazine "Auto, tekniikka ja kuljetus", motoring editors from Finland, Sweden and Norway tested vans in the weight class up to three tonnes.

The numerous criteria were divided into familiar categories such as handling, fuel consumption, load capacity and performance, plus aspects specifically relevant to cold regions, e.g. cold-starting ability, heating and mirror/window defrosting.

At the end the new Mercedes-Benz Vito 116 CDI had clearly gained most points, and won the title. This success was aided by the numerous new features with which the new generation has been equipped since September 2010.

The centrepiece is a completely newly developed, particularly economical and environmentally friendly engine, which impresses with its refinement thanks to balancer shafts. The new six-speed ECO Gear manual transmission has a wide ratio spread for excellent performance, as well as low consumption and emission values. The driving dynamics and handling of the Mercedes-Benz Vito benefit from rear-wheel drive. In addition, the new Vito has the benefit of a completely newly developed, optimally configured suspension.

Even more operating convenience, greater comfort and a higher-quality atmosphere round off the list of further developments in the interior of the Vito. Whether the new shift lever, the push-buttons in the upper array of the centre console or the upgraded, optional overhead console – the Vito is more user-friendly than ever.

There are also numerous new exterior highlights on the Mercedes-Benz Vito. New reflector headlamps frame the radiator grille, with the standard daytime running lamps, which have their own light source, and foglamps integrated into the housing.

In the sum of its attributes, the new Vito was able to convince the testers and demonstrate that reliability and robustness are also a matter of course in extreme winter conditions.

Copyright © 2011, Mercedes-Benz-Blog. All rights reserved.

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smart launches a new international 360° brand campaign: smart fortwo – a big idea for…


Stuttgart, Germany, Feb 28, 2011 - With the claim "A big idea for…" smart is launching a new international brand campaign which focuses on the uniqueness of the vehicle's concept in an unusual way. Five different stories are the common denominator for all communication activities. Each story demonstrates a feature of the smart fortwo, accompanied by humorous illustrations. They tell how this innovative vehicle improves the quality of life in pulsating cities. As a whole new vehicle concept ahead of its time right from the start, the smart is showing that it is the real city car. Compact, agile and individual as well as economical and with electric drive - all assets of the smart are addressed in the campaign. For example, the smart fortwo is a big idea for "…the city" because it fits in every parking space or for "…more uniqueness" because the individual program smart BRABUS tailor made offers endless possibilities for a unique and individual design and equipment.

Dr. Annette Winkler, Head of smart says "Right from the start smart was ahead of its time: Not just the perfect car for the city with a trendsetting design – it was also "a big idea", a strong vision and a solution for the ever-increasing mobility and environmental problems in growing cities around the world. Almost 13 years after the first smart rolled off the production line approximately 1.25 million vehicles have been sold and it is a familiar part of the city roadscape. Not later than today we have the situation that moved the inventors of the smart to design this most consistent of all city cars that was far ahead of its time. Now the time for the big "smart" idea has finally come, including the electric drive for which provisions were made right from the start – that's what we want to demonstrate with our campaign."

Marc Langenbrinck, Head of Sales & Marketing says "Our new campaign confidently communicates the leadership claim of the brand in the typical smart tongue-in-cheek manner as the inventor of the microcar segment and the best in class. The campaign clearly shows: The smart was, is and will be an icon, a big idea and a benefit for urban quality of life."

The integrated campaign covers all communication channels – from print ads, posters and online banners to TV, online and cinema spots, a Facebook application and trade and dialogue marketing activities. It will also be integrated on the website and on smart's mobile portal. smart markets around the world can select individual measures from the extensive communication package and implement them as required.

smart fortwo – a big idea for…

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Possible Mercedes-Benz concept car coming?

Today we came across a set of three sketches depicting a possible Mercedes-Benz concept model that might be revealed next week at the Geneva Motor Show. The drawings show a highly futuristically-styled hypercar, characterised by an impressive combination of smooth, aerodynamical lines and surfaces that deliver a dramatic look. At the moment, nothing else is known about this mind-blowing automobile. Check out several photos after the jump!

Source of the photos >> GermanCarForum

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VIDEO: The F-CELL World Drive - From Lisbon to USA

The F-CELL World Drive - From Lisbon to USA

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VIDEO: The F-CELL World Drive - Europe Journey - The Best Moments

The F-CELL World Drive - Europe Journey - The Best Moments

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Geneva is host to first public appearance of the XENATEC Coupe based on the Maybach 57 S


Weinsberg, Germany, Feb 25, 2011

For the first time, XENATEC is presenting a customer-specified XENATEC-Coupe (so called: Cruiserio) based on the Maybach 57 S to coincide with the 81st International Auto Salon in Geneva from March 1st through 6th. The presentation of the car, which will take place in a specially constructed pavilion in the gardens of “La Réserve” Hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva, also marks its world premiere.

The coupe was configured by XENATEC designer Fredrik Burchhardt to customer specifications and then built exclusively for him. The paintwork on this one-off is a matte finish applied by hand in several layers to create a shimmering brass tone. The overall paint finish is completed by a delicate silver along the vehicle’s flanks. This particular stylistic treatment – a hallmark of all Maybach automobiles – is the final touch to the work of art that is the XENATEC-Coupe and utterly unparalleled worldwide.

To sum up - designed by artists, manufactured for connoisseurs.

The interior is utterly exclusive, created from a stunning combination of buffalo hide in its natural, non-dyed mid-brown and dark nappa leather in espresso brown, all hand-stitched by master craftsmen. The vehicle footwells are lined entirely in soft Alcantara© finished in a warm blackberry tone. The same “blackberry” tone is also used as a contrasting color for the leather piping around the seats. The overall effect is further enhanced by the headliner finished in nappa leather to create a stunning contrast in this uniquely sumptuous feast of color, which is beautifully displayed at all times thanks to the custom-built panorama roof.

To sum up – the highest form of individualization, executed with perfect craftsmanship.

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PHOTO GALLERY: The F-CELL World Drive - The USA adventure ~ Starting point: Miami

The F-CELL World Drive has just arrived on U.S. soil. The three teams involved kicked off the North American trip in the sunny city of Miami, on the coast of Florida, in the eastern part of the country, where an official photo session was held. The next milestones of the journey will include destinations such as New Orleans, Los Angeles, Vancouver (in Canada) and Seattle, before setting off for Australia. Check out more photos after the break!

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Mercedes-Benz showing papal car at the Amelia Island Concours d'Élegance 2011


- International venue for very exclusive automobiles
- Mercedes-Benz showing the 600 Pullman Landaulet papal car of 1965
- The unique specimen today belongs to the collection of Mercedes-Benz Classic

Stuttgart, Germany, Feb 25, 2011 – The Amelia Island Concours d'Élegance in Florida in the USA is one of the year's most glamorous automotive events. At mid-March each year, the most beautiful, most elegant vehicles are gathered there. From 11 to 13 March 2011, for the 16th time now the Golf Club of Amelia Island will be allowing the presentation of fine cars on its fine lawn. Mercedes-Benz Classic is represented there this year with a remarkable and unique specimen: the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet papal car, shown for the first time ever on U.S. shores. The vehicle was handed over to Pope Paul VI in 1965 and used by the Vatican as official car for the Holy Father before being returned to the company in 1985 and incorporated into the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection.

Some 250 cars will be on hand at the Amelia Island Concours d’Élegance. They take part in an unrivaled competition of beautiful cars, with winners being selected in various categories. Vehicles of the Mercedes-Benz brand regularly are awarded high distinctions. Last year, for example, a 1937 540 K Special Roadster received the coveted "Best in Show" award. A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL featuring a rare aluminum body and a 540 K Special Tourer built in 1938 were chosen "Best in Class".

With the Mercedes-Benz Pullman Landaulet on display at the Amelia Island Concours d'Élegance, in the 125! years of the automobile anniversary year the brand underscores its aspiration always to provide customers the best. The 600 series models were built from 1963 to 1981 and were equipped with the finest and best their period had to offer. For over two decades they were first choice as prestige cars in the fleets of high-ranking personages.

The tailor-made vehicle for the Vatican was the result of cooperation between Testing and Production in Sindelfingen. It is based on the Mercedes-Benz 600 (W 100 series) with long wheelbase. However, the appointments differ from the standard equipment. The rear doors are much wider and abut directly on the front doors. The rear doors also were given new controls to make them easier to reach for the Pope from the individual seat which he occupied in the center of the rear section. The Pullman Landaulet has a raised roof to afford adequate headroom, and a flat floor in the rear seat area.

The Holy Father was enthused about the high technical level of the W 100 series. "The name Mercedes has become a byword for German diligence and German efficiency in the whole world. And for this reason we appreciate your gift today all the more." With these words Paul VI praised the automotive engineering from Stuttgart upon delivery of the vehicle. Further special equipment of the vehicle includes a cooling system, the intercom unit for contact with the driver, and the individual seat in the rear, adjustable in several directions, which always presented the Holy Father in prominently visible position.

Today the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet with the legendary license plate SCV 1 is a part of the collection of Mercedes-Benz Classic. SCV stands for Stato della Città del Vaticano. The number 1 identifies the vehicle used by the Pope as official car.

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Mercedes-Benz wants to prevent rear-end collisions: New safety system for the upcoming A and B-Class


Stuttgart, Germany, Feb 25, 2011 - Almost half of all rear-end collisions can be avoided with the help of radar-based safety systems such as collision warning and adaptive Brake Assist, or their effects mitigated. This is a finding from detailed accident analyses carried out by Mercedes-Benz accident researchers, which incorporate experiences gained from the Mercedes innovations DISTRONIC PLUS and BAS PLUS. Now the company is also adopting the innovation leadership in the compact class and is introducing radar-based collision warning with adaptive Brake Assist extensively this year in the upcoming A and B-Class. In contrast to systems already in the market in this segment, the new Brake Assist is not an urban system that merely minimises the effects of minor collisions. Instead this innovative solution is targeted at preventing typical rear-end collisions in all driving situations.

In Germany rear-end collisions are still responsible for 22 percent of accidents involving injury or fatalities, and in the USA the figure is as high as 31 percent. For many decades Mercedes-Benz has worked on methods to prevent these accidents. Milestones in the company's safety developments include ABS (1978), Brake Assist BAS (1996), DISTRONIC proximity control (1998) and the further development stage DISTRONIC PLUS with BAS PLUS (2005). These new systems always celebrated their debut in the luxury class models, but in the interests of traffic safety it has always been a principle of Mercedes-Benz to make innovative technology available on a broad basis as rapidly as possible – also outside its own model range. As a result ABS and BAS, and incidentally also the Mercedes development ESP®, are nowadays standard equipment in practically all passenger cars.

New Brake Assist: a milestone in safety technology

The next milestone in the democratisation of automotive safety technology is due to follow this year: with the launch of the new-generation B-Class, followed a little later by the A-Class, Mercedes-Benz is making a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist available in compact class vehicles as a world first. The company expects this to make a significant, positive impression on accident statistics: "Our aim is to reduce the number of serious accidents even further, and on a broad basis. Following detailed analyses of accident data, we estimate that this radar-based technology will be able to prevent around 20 percent of all rear-end collisions, and mitigate the effects of the accident in a further 25 percent of cases," says Ulrich Mellinghoff, Head of Safety at Mercedes-Benz.

This estimate is backed up by test results: during tests with 110 car drivers in the driving simulator, the accident rate in three typical situations fell from 44 to eleven percent thanks to a combination of collision warning and adaptive Brake Assist.

BAS PLUS has a high level of acceptance among drivers

DISTRONIC PLUS and BAS PLUS already have a high level of acceptance amongst Mercedes customers. This is also confirmed by a 2010 survey of car drivers whose cars are equipped with these. 87 percent of the respondents gave a positive assessment of the proximity control function, and after six months of ownership 41 percent has already experienced an intervention by Brake Assist PLUS. Their comments speak for themselves:

- "It can easily happen of course, you are chatting away in the car, and if the system had not beeped I would have driven straight into the back of him."

- "You are not on your own, and on those occasions when you are not paying attention you get this useful warning."

- "There is a marked reduction in rear-end collisions. There is always the odd moment when you are not paying proper attention, and before you know it you have hit the car ahead. The warning sound immediately gets your attention, and you can still brake, there is enough time."

It is precisely this requirement profile that is met by the new assistance system, which will already be launched for the compact car segment before the end of this year: it gives a visual and acoustic warning to a possibly inattentive driver, and prepares Brake Assist for an absolutely precise braking response. This is initiated as soon as the driver emphatically operates the brake pedal.

Key functions of the coming generation

- A radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist recognises an inadequate distance from a vehicle ahead in the speed range between 30 and 250 km/h,
- recognises when the gap is decreasing. The driver is given a visual and acoustic warning if a collision threatens,
- is able to recognise stationary objects ahead of the vehicle and issue a corresponding warning,
- recognises specific driving situations such as bumper-to-bumper traffic, and adapts the activation threshold for the warning and adaptive Brake Assist to these parameters,
- calculates the precise braking force ideally needed to avoid the accident when the danger of a collision is detected, and makes best possible use of any distance remaining. This means that the driver behind in turn has better chances of preventing a rear-end collision.
- The brake pressure is adjusted if the situation changes – if the vehicle ahead accelerates, it is decreased to the level the driver requires; if the distance to moving and stopping vehicles decreases, the brake pressure is increased further.
- Preventive safety systems (PRE-SAFE®) can be activated if needed (e.g. belt tensioners).
- The new system meets the key "Forward Collision Warning" requirements of the NHTSA, the American road and vehicle safety authority.

More experience with assistance systems than any other manufacturer

Mercedes-Benz has the most extensive experience with assistance systems of all car manufacturers. Ulrich Mellinghoff, Head of Safety at Mercedes-Benz: "Fine coordination of these systems requires comprehensive know-how, and is decisive for customer acceptance and effectiveness. Systems are only accepted if they work reliably, and are only seldom operated or triggered in error."

In addition to preliminary studies covering a driver-oriented system configuration in the driving simulator, the systems are therefore verified by extensive, practical driving trials during the development stage. To this end vehicles are fitted with measuring equipment to register key dynamic values, as well as video cameras to record the traffic situation. An input terminal enables the drivers to provide feedback on the behaviour of the assistance systems, and assess whether the intervention was appropriate or not. To date the experiences of 608 drivers have been recorded and analysed using precisely 198,828 measurements over a total distance of 1,130,215 kilometres. These included more than 5000 proximity warnings which were taken into account to optimise the system.

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