by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

PREVIEW: Mercedes-Benz developing a Superlight E-Class for 2015

It is believed the second decade of the 21st century will rewrite all the basic principles of automotive engineering. Nowadays, car companies are rushing to launch new and innovative technologies in order to save the planet and contribute to making driver's tasks much easier to accomplish - if driving is perhaps seen as a risky challenge rather than sheer pleasure and automotive passion. Systems that make the engine run cleaner improve efficiency targets - but the overall weight of a car is one crucial aspect engineers must take into consideration if they ever want to meet the stringent targets they've set themselves. Using light mass materials to develop the chassis and main components is the path Mercedes-Benz will supposedly follow with the advent of the new generation E-Class by 2015.

Early this year, Daimler AG has put a solid foundation after it signed an official cooperation agreement with Toray Industries, a Japan-based professional multinational company centered around technologies in chemistry, electronics and advanced composite materials. The two giants have already developed an innovative molding process for carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) which shall be used in the new models Mercedes-Benz will premiere beginning with 2012. Lightweight construction is another goal of the partnership and hereby one of the decisive statements in the German carmaker's plan for sustainability.

It has been recently reported Mercedes-Benz could be planning a special version of the future E-Class. The 'Superlight' limousine, as it might be called, will feature a lightweight chassis made up of CFRP and composite materials, which help to decrease the total mass of the car by 350 kilograms - reaching a final 1300 kilograms. Strengthness and body rigidity won't give any headaches to engineers, as it is well known that carbon fiber performs superbly in these two categories. Together with the constant breakthroughs in safety achieved by Mercedes-Benz, we could be in for one impressive automobile if the Superlight E-Class comes true in approximately four years from now.

The innovations don't end just here. The use of carbon fiber will create more interior space and it is highly possible the athletic sedan will adopt a different exterior styling compared to the standard model. Moreover, the Superlight E-Class is expected to feature alternative, efficient powertrains - fuel-cell, electric and hybrid versions are said to be on the decision table. If the project goes well, chances are more bespoke lightweight models from Mercedes-Benz will be revealed towards 2016-2017, including a sensational supercar, dubbed SCS.

Photo: Autobild

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