Mercedes-Benz is one of the best-known names in the car market of the modern world. This is no coincidence but rather the natural result of a car manufacturer that has been running its revenue-earning operations in a successful manner since the start of the 20th century. However, it is interesting to note that while most people would associate Mercedes-Benz with cars of a more upscale kind, it is involved with other kinds of businesses as well. Here are 20 fun facts that you may or may not have known about Mercedes-Benz:
1. Mercedes-Benz Is a Marque
Currently, Mercedes-Benz is a marque. For those who are unfamiliar with that particular term, a marque is more-or-less a brand. However, it tends to have more upscale connotations, meaning that it sees use in the context of cars and other expensive purchases rather than, say, household products. Speaking of which, it is interesting to note that the word marque has Scandinavian roots, though it comes to English through the French word marquer, which means “to brand.” This shouldn't be considered too surprising because Scandinavian influence can be found in numerous European countries because of the vikings. In fact, the Normans who went on to conquer Anglo-Saxon England started out as vikings, though by the time of the Norman Conquest, enough time had passed that they had become a separate people with a separate culture of their own that had incorporated influences from a number of sources to create something new.
2. Belonged to Daimler-Benz AG
Once upon a time, Mercedes-Benz belonged to Daimler-Benz AG, which was a German car manufacturer that came into existence in 1926. Like its name suggests, Daimler-Benz AG was a team-up between two preexisting German companies, thus resulting in its eventual name. However, while Karl Benz of Benz & Cie was involved in Daimler-Benz AG until he died in 1929, the same could not be said of the two founders of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft because one had died and one had departed before the team-up. Regardless, the sheer length of Daimler-Benz AG's history means that it has been involved in a wide range of incidents, including both good and not so good moments. For example, Daimler-Benz AG was one of the German companies that used slave labor to produce parts for the German war machine in World War II, which included rifles as well as engines for various kinds of vehicles. Unsurprisingly, the conditions for the people kidnapped by the Germans were horrendous, which is why there were numerous casualties.
3. Belonged to DaimlerChrysler AG
Later, Daimler-Benz AG became DaimlerChrysler AG. Given the name, it should come as no surprise to learn that DaimlerChrysler AG was the result of a team-up between Daimler-Benz AG and Chrysler. However, while the team-up was supposed to be a partnership of equals, it soon became clear that Daimler-Benz AG was going to become the dominant partner within a short period of time. After all, the forcing-out of various figures who had once been poised to succeed the top leadership of Chrysler wasn't exactly the most subtle sign out there. Regardless, the investors were not enthused about the team-up, which resulted in a number of lawsuits concerning whether the team-up had been the partnership of equals that had been promised. Something that saw a class action lawsut being suited for a total of $300 million in US dollars in the early 2000s. Considering that there were other serious issues, it is no wonder that DaimlerChrysler AG ended up selling Chrysler in 2007, thus reinventing itself once again.
4. Belongs to Daimler AG
Now, Mercedes-Benz belongs to Daimler AG, which is the result of DaimlerChrysler AG selling Chrysler in 2007. By sales numbers, Daimler AG is something like the 13th biggest car manufacturer that can be found in the entire world, which is no mean achievement. However, it should be mentioned that Daimler AG makes other products as well, as shown by the fact that it is the single biggest truck manufacturer that can be found in the entire world. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that Daimler AG controls numerous brands, which happen to include a fair number that should be familiar to a lot of consumers out there. With that said, out of the brands that can be found under Daimler AG, Daimler Financial Services might be the most surprising name, but it should be mentioned that the provision of financial services are not particularly uncommon for car manufacturers. After all, it makes sense for them to offer car financing to interested individuals, thus enabling them to sell more cars than otherwise possible.
5. Founded in 1926
Given that Benz & Cie and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft came together in 1926, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Mercedes-Benz brand was created at that time. After all, the brand name combined elements from both sides of the merger, thus making it the perfect choice to represent the new corporation that emerged from the process. With that said, considering that both companies had existed for some time before the merger, it should come as no surprise to learn that the roots of the Mercedes-Benz brand can be traced to much earlier times. In fact, the Mercedes part of Mercedes-Benz had been seeing extensive use as a marque in its own right before the launching of Mercedes-Benz, which is perhaps unsurprising considering that was the name of a rather well-known car produced by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. Meanwhile, it can be said that the roots of Mercedes-Benz are even deeper still on the Benz & Cie side, seeing as how some people have been known to claim 1886. Bear in mind that this would've been around the same time as the invention of the car, meaning that the Mercedes-Benz brand has deep roots indeed.
6. Named For a Girl
Mercedes is a name for women that saw and still sees a fair amount of use in both Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. For those who are curious, it is believed to have come into existence as a contraction of Maria de las Mercedes, which was a Spanish title for the Virgin Mary that meant Mary of the Mercies. Regardless, since this is the case, it should come as no surprise to learn that the first car called a Mercedes was named for a woman. To be exact, it was named for the daughter of Emil Jellinek, an Australian diplomat who happened to be a racing enthusiast, which is why he raced cars with Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. Jellinek received a fair amount of success in his efforts that produced excellent press for the people who made his car, which is why Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft responded by making him a member of its Board of Directors as well as make continuing use of the name that he chose for his car. Amusingly, it seems that Jellinek became rather enamored of the name as well, as shown by the fact that he later changed his surname to Jellinek-Mercedes.
7. Named For the First Production Automobile
As for the Benz & Cie side of things, some people connect Mercedes-Benz with the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, which is exactly what it sounds like in the sense that it means the Benz patent motorcar. In short, this particular car has sometimes been claimed as the first production automobile, meaning something that was purposefully made to be moved by an internal combustion engine. Of course, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen was made by Karl Benz of Benz & Cie fame. However, it is interesting to note that Benz's wife Bertha Benz had a huge role as well in its creation as well. For example, she was the one who financed the whole process with her dowry, which was an extension of how she had been Benz's business partner even before their marriage. Furthermore, Bertha Benz had an keen eye for marketing, which is why she made a historic trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim in one of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen with her sons without bothering to tell her husband. On this occasion, she demonstrated considerable technical know-how in her own right, seeing as how she was the one who handled the issues that came up as she made the trip.
8. Made the Mercedes-Benz 770s Throughout the 30s and 40s
From the 1930s to the 1940s, Mercedes-Benz might have been best-known for the Mercedes-Benz 770, which was a rather luxurious car that saw a fair amount of use as state vehicles. For example, Paul von Hindenburg and Pope Pius XI were but some of the important figures from that particular period to put them to use. With that said, the Mercedes-Benz 770 might actually be best-known to most people because of its association with high-ranking Nazis, which comes from its frequent appearance in archival footage.
9. Made the Mercedes-Benz 260 D
Later, Mercedes-Benz started producing the Mercedes-Benz 260 D from 1936 to 1940. This particular car is notable because it was one of the first vehicles to make use of a diesel engine, meaning an internal combustion engine that ignites its fuel via the compression of nothing but air. It is interesting to note that the Mercedes-Benz 260 D was actually made with a number of body types, all of which eventually ceased production when Daimler-Benz AG switched over to manufacturing for military purposes.
10. Made the Adenauer
Another famous car that bore the Mercedes-Benz symbol was the Adenauer, which was a nickname for the Mercedes-Benz W186. Like the nickname suggests, the Mercedes-Benz W186 saw a fair amount of use by Konrad Adenauer, who was the first Chancellor of West Germany. Since Adenauer was often credited with turning West Germany into a stable, prosperous country in the aftermath of World War II, it is no wonder that the Mercedes-Benz W186 became associated with him.
11. Pioneered the Pre-Safe
Another excellent example of Mercedes-Benz's contributions to car safety would be the Pre-Safe system. In short, said system was a collision avoidance system, which was something of a novelty at the time of its introduction in 2002. The Pre-Safe system was interesting in that it could pick up on signs of an imminent collision, which would cause it to take a number of measures designed to protect the occupants of the car. Examples ranged from moving the seats to a better position to tightening the seat belts in preparation for the collision.
12. The Numbers Refer to Displacement
By this point, it should be clear that the numbers and letters in the names of Mercedes-Benz cars provide a fair amount of information to interested individuals who can figure out what they mean. For example, the numbers in the names refer to the displacement of their internal combustion engines, which would be the total volume of their cylinders as measured using either liters, cubic centimeters, or some other suitable unit of measurement. In this particular case, the names of Mercedes-Benz cars make use of displacement as measured by liters and then multipled by a factor of 100. This is the reason that as Mercedes-Benz continued to produce new cars, their names began picking up bigger and bigger names as their engines became more and more powerful from being able to burn more and more gas with each revolution.
13. The Letters Provide Further Information
Of course, the letters provide plenty of information as well. For example, a C means that the car has either a coupe body or a cabriolet body, much as how G once referred to a particular kind of off-road vehicle but has since been re-purposed to refer to SUVs. Besides these, there are a number of letters that see use for providing various pieces of information about the nature of the internal combustion engine seeing use in the car. One is how D indicates the presence of a diesel engine, while another is how E indicates either an engine with petrol fuel injection, an electric engine, or a hybrid engine. With that said, some of the letters that see use in Mercedes-Benz's naming system don't provide much information for people unless they are already familiar with them to some extent. After all, while E for an electric engine is fairly obvious, a K for an engine with a supercharger might not be so clear for people who are not particular aware of the kompressor.
14. The Naming System Was Revised in 1994
With that said, the Mercedes-Benz naming system that sees use in the present is not quite the same as the Mercedes-Benz naming system that saw use in the past. This is because in 1994, Mercedes-Benz made some significant changes to how it names its cars, meaning that what was once true is no longer true now. Nowadays, Mercedes-Benz cars have a class, which is indicated by a combination of letters that can be up to three letters long. This is followed by a combination of numbers, which doesn't necessarily refer to the displacement of the engine but could reflect either a general sense of the performance of the engine or marketing purposes based on such a sense. Afterwards, Mercedes-Benz cars might have further alphanumeric combinations that indicate some kind of special feature that should be mentioned. For example, a Mercedes-Benz car with all-wheel-drive will have 4MATIC, while a Mercedes-Benz car with a supercharged engine will have Kompressor.
15. Built First Robot Car
Currently, there is a huge interest in robot cars because of a wide range of potential benefits, which is why there are a lot of institutions that have become involved in one way or another. However, it is interesting to note that Mercedes-Benz can claim the honor of being the first to build a robot car, which was carried out in cooperation with a team under the leadership of Ernst Dickmanns. In fact, it was the success of this team-up that prompted the European Union to set up the Prometheus Project, which poured an enormous amount of funding into the research for robot cars. Eventually, the Prometheus Project resulted in a rather notable success when the team under Dickmanns turned a S-Class Mercedes-Benz car into a robot car that completed a trip from Bavaria in Germany to Copenhagen in Denmark. In total, it managed to travel up to 158 km without human intervention, which was rather impressive considering the limitations of the times to say the least.
16. The Symbol Has More Meaning Than It Seems
The three-pointed star of the Mercedes-Benz brand is one of the most famous corporate symbols in the entire world, which is the result of decades and decades of successful business. With that said, it is interesting to note that there is more meaning to the three-pointed star than it would seem on initial consideration. In short, the three points are supposed to represent the land, the water, and the air, which in turn, were supposed to represent Daimler- Motoren-Gesellschaft's ambition of universal motorization. In other words, it is fortunate that the leadership of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft went with the three-pointed star rather than the four-pointed star, which was the other symbol that was considered by them when the Mercedes-Benz brand was started up
17. Headquartered in Stuttgart
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mercedes-Benz has its headquarters in the city of Stuttgart, which has the honor of being the biggest of the cities that can be found in Baden-Wurttemberg. Even now, Stuttgart has the distinction of being called the Cradle of the Automobile, which is because it is where the automobile was invented. As a result, it is no coincidence that Mercedes-Benz has its headquarters situated here, which is something that it shares with Porsche. Moreover, it should be mentioned that Stuttgart is home to two car parts manufacturers of note as well as a number of car magazines, which are befitting of its historical status.
18. Has a Mixed Environmental Record
Mercedes-Benz has shown an interest in making cars that can appeal to people who are concerned about the environment, whether because they are worried about the environment or because they want to cut down on their costs or a combination of both. However, it should be mentioned that Mercedes-Benz has something of a mixed record on the matters. For proof, look at how it ended up with a $30 million fine in the United States in 2009 because of its failure to meet mandated fuel standards. Likewise, Mercedes-Benz had the dubious honor of being the European car manufacturer to end up with the worst average CO2 level in both 2006 and 2007, which isn't exactly the sort of thing that anyone would want. Still, it is clear that Mercedes-Benz has been making a serious effort to improve in this regard, as shown by the fact that it hasn't been earning these dubious distinctions since as well as its partnerships to pursue its goals in this regard.
19. Involved in Formula One In an Indirect Manner
Considering how Mercedes-Benz started up, its involvement with racing is obvious. After all, there were a lot of car manufacturers that used the races as a way of promoting their products to interested individuals, with Mercedes-Benz being no exception to that rule. With that said, it is interesting to note that Mercedes-Benz has been involved with Formula One in both a direct and an indirect manner. Curiously, while Mercedes-Benz managed to secure two championship titles in two seasons, it left the motorsport. However, it has continued to be involved in various indirect ways, with an excellent example being its successes in claiming the F1 Constructor's title.
20. Pioneered the Pre-Tensioner
Some of Mercedes-Benz's contributions to cars and other consumer vehicles have already been mentioned. However, it is important to note that it has continued contributing in various ways since its early days. One excellent example is the pre-tensioner, which is not particularly not well-known but is nonetheless important enough that it sees widespread use. This is because the pre-tensioner is a part of the seat belt that causes the seat belt to tighten in an instantaneous manner when a crash happens, which is important because the lack of slack is what will prevent the person using it from being pulled forward in the incident. As a result, it is a significant contribution to making cars safer in the event of a crash.
Written by Garrett Parker
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