by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

The Mercedes-Benz F 125! research vehicle: Successful transfer from research to series production

Mercedes-Benz has presented 14 research vehicles since the early 1980s. This series of exciting and pioneering cars – beginning with the Auto 2000 in 1981 and leading up to today's F 125! – offers proof of the consistency and foresight with which Mercedes-Benz engineers address the core issues of research and technology in order to develop innovative solutions for the future. Many systems that were first used in research vehicles and viewed as revolutionary at the time can now be found in Mercedes-Benz production cars, including e.g. a further development of the fuel cell drive system. This was first realised in October 2005, in the F 600 HYGENIUS, and entered series production in the B-Class F-CELL at the end of 2009.

The F 125! continues on this course. Like its predecessors, the model features key drive, comfort, and safety innovations, as well as an avant-garde design, all of which point the way forward for the series production of future Mercedes-Benz vehicles that will continue to deliver an impressive combination of fascination and responsibility even beyond the year 2025.

On the road to emission-free mobility

The goal of Mercedes-Benz is to offer every customer a vehicle that is precisely tailored to his needs. Accordingly the Mercedes-Benz Roadmap for sustainable mobility is divided into three areas of action:

1. Optimised vehicles with clean and efficient internal combustion engines
2. Further efficiency increases with hybridisation
3. Emission-free driving with fuel-cell and battery-powered vehicles

With the F 125! research vehicle, Mercedes-Benz is demonstrating that with an appropriate configuration, electric drive is also suitable for large and luxurious cars. The fuel cell has proved to be the most promising option in this respect, as it ensures the best possible environmental compatibility while meeting the expectations of Mercedes customers with respect to superior performance and driving enjoyment.

The fuel cell: an important motor for the mobility of tomorrow

Mercedes-Benz fuel cell technology has already demonstrated its high performance and day-to-day suitability during the successful F-CELL World Drive. Its advantages - longer operating range, short refuelling times, zero emissions – are obvious to all.

What applies to all new drive systems also applies here, however: alternative drive systems require alternative infrastructures. In the case of the fuel cell this means hydrogen filling stations. This is why Mercedes-Benz as the inventor of the automobile is working with partners from industry and politics to further the development of an appropriate, full-coverage infrastructure.

As the latest example, Stuttgart-based Daimler and the technology company The Linde Group are furthering the creation of an infrastructure for hydrogen-fuelled fuel cell vehicles. Over the coming three years the two companies will construct 20 more hydrogen filling stations in Germany, thereby ensuring a reliable supply of exclusively regeneration-based hydrogen for the constantly growing number of fuel cell vehicles.

This initiative complements the existing infrastructure projects H2 Mobility and Clean Energy Partnership, which are being supported by the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP). This means that in an international comparison, Germany occupies a leading position with respect to hydrogen infrastructure.

Mobility of the future – Utopias shaping our tomorrow

It was visionaries and dreamers who prepared the way for "automobility". The first tentative steps were taken at the end of the 19th Century – in a technological environment where the steam engine dominated the world of power generation. The steam locomotive added motion to this machine, and tracks were laid everywhere. At that time the very idea that a compact, fast-running internal combustion engine installed in coach-like vehicles could make individual, easy and comfortable mobility possible beyond the rail system was nothing short of blasphemous.

In fact all the indicators were far from promising. England, the leading industrial nation at the time, was completely committed to steam power. Paris, the second major engineering centre, was suffering political unrest. And in other at the time highly developed industrial nations, the conditions for visionary engineers and utopians such as Carl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach or Rudolf Diesel were anything but ideal. Nonetheless, they refused to be daunted. With the F 125! Mercedes-Benz is once again reaffirming this pioneering spirit.

F 125! – a specific outlook on the vision of emission-free driving

With the new Mercedes-Benz research vehicle, the vision of emission-free driving with large, luxurious automobiles takes on a concrete form. The F 125! shows that the mobility of the future is emission-free and sustainable, comfortable and visually very appealing. It embodies technical and design innovation, and shows the way towards a society able to cope without fossil fuels.
Naturally the vehicle cannot stand alone as a solution for the vision of future mobility. The overall picture must include social and political efforts moving in the direction of the "Circular Economy" following the example of nature. The energy policy reversal discussed and in part initiated in Germany and many other countries is a seminal signal in this respect.

Other preconditions for the efficiency and convenience of future mobility are already being created by close networking between internet media. Apart from the "Cloud" as a data bank always accessible from anywhere, the next great step is the "Internet of Things", networking of all physical objects. In the F 125!, integration into data networks and extended developments of intelligent assistance systems are already indicators of how comfort and safety are blending.

The mobility of tomorrow: less stress, more fun

In future visions of day-to-day mobility there are no more boundaries between road users, and traffic signs are almost unnecessary. As in swarms of fish or flocks of birds, collisions will be avoided by information, efficiency will increase, the infrastructure will occupy less space and mobility will become more stress-free. Numerous very pleasant side-effects of emission-free vehicles will add to this, and change the world. Busy arterial roads in the cities will once again become attractive for living and shopping, as noise and exhaust fumes will disappear. Bypass roads will be reclaimed for other uses, and the present distinction between living/recreation and traffic areas will dissolve. New and revolutionary architecture will become possible in the cities.

The F 125! makes a tangible contribution to all these utopian ideas. While not forgetting that it also offers driving pleasure.

Source: Daimler AG

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