Mercedes has revealed their F800 Style concept car, a car taking inspiration from Mercedes’ sculpture unveiled in Detroit, and reportedly hinting at the next CLS-Class. It will be making its public unveiling in Geneva (Unless it already has, although we haven’t heard anything).
The car has a special “eco-friendly” platform, designed to accommodate either a plug-in hybrid or fuel cell system. The car has a range of 600 km with the fuel cell, or 30 km on electricity alone with the plug-in hybrid system.
The plug-in hybrid system uses a gasoline-powered, direct injection V6 engine putting out 272 hp teamed with a 109 hp electric motor. The electric motor is located in the housing of the seven-speed automatic transmission. It receives power from a lithium-ion battery which can be recharged using the plug at home or at a charging station (Although as far as I know, no charging stations actually exist yet). The battery is located under the rear bench seat. According to Mercedes, this place is best because “it takes up little space, creates a low centre of gravity and ensures maximum safety in the event of a crash.”
This combo results in fuel consumption of 2.9 litres of gasoline per 100 kilometres, and C02 emissions of 68 grams per kilometre. However, as with all hybrids, that emissions figure doesn’t take into account the long-term effect (Building the car, replacing the battery, etc.). Performance isn’t too bad, with 0-100 kph taking just 4.8 seconds, and a top speed of 250 kph (Presumably electronically limited as most German cars are). However, in electric mode, the top speed drops to 120 kph.
The fuel cell variant of the F800 has an electric motor developing 136 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. It is located near the rear axle. The fuel cell itself is located in the front, where you’d normally find an engine. This works as most fuel cells, chemically reacting hydrogen with oxygen. The only resulting emission is water vapour. Four hydrogen tanks fuel the system, with two located in the transmission tunnel and the other two underneath the rear seat bench. There is also a lithium-ion battery, although the press release doesn’t specify what it will do (Perhaps it’s a hydrogen hybrid system), located behind the rear seats.
On the interior, the centre console utilizes a special system. This system is a human-machine interface (HMI) with a cam touchpad. In more simply language, it’s a touchscreen where you can control many car functions, such as climate control and satellite navigation. However, it’s not just any touchscreen. It uses a camera to track your hand’s movements and create a transparent image of it, making sure you know what you’re going to press. The display generates a feeling similar to pressing the key on a keyboard, ensuring that you know when you’ve pressed something.
Another convenient feature is Range on Map. When in electric mode, this will display the car’s remaining possible travel radius as a 360 degree view on the satellite navigation screen. Then there’s more. The car has Distronic Plus Traffic Jam Assist. At speeds less than 40 kph, the car will pretty much drive by itself. It can regulate not only the throttle, but even follow the car up front into bends. Yes, cars which drive themselves are now a reality (And those research projects with cameras and antennas sticking out everywhere don’t count). To make sure you don’t follow the car up front off the road, the system has been designed to recognize the difference between going into a bend and turning off a road. The driver can override it at anytime. Once speed picks up to over 40 kph, the system will gradually disable.
Mercedes has clearly put a lot of effort in to this car, as there’s still another technology to list. Mercedes has made a new version of their “Pre-Safe” safety system for this car, called Pre-Safe 360°. The difference between the normal system and original Pre-Safe is that the 360° incarnation now covers the rear-end. The system will apply brakes about 600 milliseconds before rear-end collisions, making sure the car doesn’t cause more damage by flying off into other cars. The driver can override the system, as if you hit the accelerator to avoid the collision by moving forward, the brakes will immediately be disengaged.
So there’s plenty of innovation in this car. Will any of it make it into production though? Well, while Mercedes doesn’t say anything for sure, they hint at it near the end of the press release, saying how many of their technologies from research vehicles have made it onto production cars. I do hope that the design makes its way to the next CLS though. With time, we’ll find out. For now, have a look at some more pictures in the gallery below, or read through Mercedes’ whole press release.
Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style – Efficiency paired with elegance: pioneering executive saloon with “green” technology and avant-garde design
- A new take on the “fascination and responsibility” concept
- Multi-drive platform for plug-in hybrid or fuel cell
- Generously sized interior for five people and compact exterior dimensions
- Intelligent display concept with focus on “electric driving”
- HMI with cam touchpad for intuitive and reliable control
- Traffic Jam Assist function for enhanced convenience and safetyThe Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style research vehicle shows the future of premium cars from a new perspective: the one-off five-seater executive saloon combines efficient drive technologies with unparalleled safety and convenience features as well as an emotive design idiom, which interprets current Mercedes-Benz styling in line with the brand’s hallmark attribute of refined sportiness. With an exterior length of 4.75 metres, the F 800 Style offers a generously-sized interior incorporating intelligent seating, control and display concepts. Another world-first for large saloons is the all-new, exceptionally flexible multi-drive platform, which is suitable for electric drive with fuel cells, enabling a range of almost 600 kilometres, as well as for a plug-in hybrid that can drive for up to 30 kilometres solely on electricity. Both variants of the F 800 Style make locally emission-free mobility possible for a premium car, while at the same time being ideal for everyday driving and providing a dynamic driving experience.“We are dedicated to reconciling our responsibility for the environment with practical customer benefit in an exciting car,” says Dr Thomas Weber, the Daimler Board of Management member responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “The new F 800 Style research vehicle combines this commitment to providing the leading innovative drive concepts with our traditional Mercedes strengths in the areas of design, safety, comfort and outstanding performance.”A glimpse of the future for pioneering executive saloons
Within the compact 4.75-metre long exterior of the F 800 Style, all of the components of the vehicle’s exceptionally efficient and environmentally compatible alternative drive systems (plug-in hybrid or fuel-cell drive system) are installed in the engine compartment and in the gaps within the chassis to save space. Each of the drive systems takes up comparatively little space. This applies in particular to the electric drive with fuel cells, which has been enhanced by Mercedes-Benz to be compact and powerful. The front end’s compact package was made possible by the consistent downsizing of all F-CELL components. As a result, the entire interior space is preserved and offers plenty of room for five occupants.“For many decades now, our research vehicles have been turning pioneering concepts into reality and thereby setting future trends. We set a course in the large touring saloon segment in 2007, when we unveiled the F 700,” says Professor Herbert Kohler, Head of E-Drive & Future Mobility and Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler. “Characteristic features of the F 800 Style include innovations whose development is already close to the series production stage. This is true not only of the electric drive with fuel cells but also of the plug-in hybrid, whose components were taken from our modular system for electric and hybrid vehicles.”F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid: outstanding performance and CO2 emissions of 68 grams per kilometre
In combination with the powerful plug-in hybrid drive system, the F 800 Style is a dynamic expression of the “fascination and responsibility” concept. Its drive unit consists of a V6 petrol engine developing around 200 kW (272 hp) with next-generation direct injection, a hybrid module developing around 80 kW (109 hp) and a lithium-ion battery which can be recharged either at a charging station or a household power socket. Thanks to its powerful and high-torque hybrid module, in the city the F 800 Style can run exclusively on electricity and therefore without generating any local emissions. Because it also provides high torque right from the moment it starts, the vehicle delivers the same level of performance as a car with a V6 petrol engine even when operating in electric mode. The F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid can run purely on electricity for up to 30 kilometres. The F 800 Style research vehicle therefore marks a further important step in the development of a market-ready plug-in hybrid. Mercedes‑Benz will begin series production of this technology when the next-generation S-Class is introduced.Thanks to its efficient drive system and a CO2 bonus for its battery-electric driving mode, the vehicle has a certified fuel consumption of 2.9 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres, equivalent to low CO2 emissions of 68 grams per kilometre – six grams per kilometre lower than the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID. Yet the F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid still delivers performance on a par with a sports car (0-100 km/h in 4.8 s, top speed of 250 km/h). When driven in electric mode, the F 800 Style has a top speed of 120 km/h, and can thus also meet practically every requirement associated with long-distance driving.As is the case with the Mercedes-Benz S 400 HYBRID introduced in the summer of 2009 and the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID, the powerful electric module with an output of around 80 kW (109 hp) in the F 800 Style is integrated in the housing of the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission. The lithium-ion battery in the new research vehicle is located underneath the rear seat bench, where it takes up little space, creates a low centre of gravity and ensures maximum safety in the event of a crash.The electric drive components in the F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid once again demonstrate the versatility of Mercedes-Benz’s modular hybrid system, which can be expanded in various ways, depending on performance needs and the area of application. On this basis, it is possible to combine hybrid modules and batteries of different performance ratings with fuel-efficient, high-torque petrol and diesel engines. Examples range from the current mild hybrids all the way to plug-in hybrids that enable exclusively electric driving over long distances. When developing the F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid, the Mercedes engineers particularly focused on improving the possibilities of driving exclusively with electricity in urban traffic. As a result, the F 800 Style offers even higher power reserves in e-mode than the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID. The F 800 Style can therefore easily master all kinds of city traffic while producing no local emissions. With the powerful hybrid module, the top speed of the F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid has been increased from 75 km/h to 120 km/h in electric mode compared to the Vision S 500 Plug-in HYBRID. Furthermore, it emits 68 grams of CO2 per kilometre, compared to the latter vehicle’s 74 grams per kilometre.Flexible, safe and fully suited to everyday use: F 800 Style with electric drive based on fuel-cell technology
The F 800 Style with electric drive based on fuel-cell technology also offers high levels of driving pleasure and handling dynamics. The vehicle’s electric motor develops around 100 kW (136 hp) and has an impressive torque of around 290 Nm. The fuel cell generates the traction current by chemically reacting hydrogen with oxygen on board the vehicle, producing water vapour as the only emission in the process.The components of the fuel-cell drive are taken from the E-Drive modular system, which Mercedes-Benz has developed for a variety of different electric vehicles. These components, which are already being installed in the limited-edition B-Class F-CELL, can be flexibly used and are suitable for a variety of different drive configurations. The F 800 Style is an example of this, as it uses rear-wheel drive, in contrast to the B-Class F-CELL. The same components are also installed in commercial vehicles, with developments here being spearheaded by the new Citaro fuel-cell bus, which is equipped with two of the F-CELL systems used in passenger cars.The new Mercedes-Benz research vehicle has the fuel cell located in the front, while the compact electric motor is installed near the rear axle. The lithium-ion battery is positioned behind the rear seats, where it benefits from maximum possible protection against the effects of accidents, as do the four hydrogen tanks. Two of the tanks are located in the transmission tunnel between the passengers, while the other two are underneath the rear seat. They are designed to withstand all conceivable loads that could occur.F 800 Style with further innovations for enhanced convenience and safety
In addition to a multi-drive platform that is unparalleled for large saloons and a combination of different alternative drive technologies, the F 800 Style features many other technological innovations, such as a new control and display concept and a human-machine interface (HMI) with a cam touchpad. The display has many additional functions not found in conventional instrument clusters. The F 800 Style model’s control and display concept focuses for the first time primarily on electric driving functions.HMI with cam touchpad for intuitive and reliable control
The new cam touchpad HMI is an intelligent system expansion for COMAND. For many years now, Mercedes-Benz has been forging ahead with the development of innovative control and display systems. A particularly user-friendly innovation is being presented in the F 800 Style. The HMI unit here consists of a touchpad on the centre console and a camera that records video images of the user’s hand as it works the pad. The live image of the hand is presented in transparent form on the central display above the centre console. The user sees the contours of his or her fingers glide across the image without covering anything, thus ensuring that all of the functions of the currently used menu remain visible so that they can be easily operated by applying slight pressure to the touchpad. Pressing the display with one’s fingers generates a feeling similar to that of touching laptop keys so that users know when they are carrying out specific actions.The cam touchpad HMI unit recognises finger movements on the pad surface – such as wiping, pushing, turning, and zooming – thus enabling intuitive control of the climate control system, telephone, audio and navigation systems, and internet access. The unit enhances active safety as well, since it is extremely easy and convenient to use and therefore does not distract the motorist as much from the actual task of driving. And unlike conventional touchscreens, the HMI c am touchpad does not get smudged with fingerprints, ensuring that it remains clearly visible at all times.Furthermore, the cam touchpad has clear advantages over conventional touchpad units, since the latter generally depict hand or finger positions only by a small point on the display. Their lack of precision makes it very risky to enter information while driving, because doing so diverts the motorist’s attention too much from the road. By contrast, the HMI with cam touchpad can be easily and safely operated even while driving. Testers have confirmed that the HMI with cam touchpad is extremely easy and safe to use, particularly as a result of the transparent depiction of the hand.Range on Map: graphic range depiction during electric operation
Another exceptionally user-friendly innovation created by the Mercedes engineers is the “Range on Map” function, which shows the remaining possible travel radius in electric mode as a 360° view on a map. The system provides this function by combining information on the current battery charge level with data from the navigation system. In the new control and display concept, Mercedes‑Benz has created a solution that provides an unparalleled amount of information based on a system of exemplary clarity. The engineers have thus achieved the goal of successfully developing a comprehensive yet easy-to-use information and control system for future cars equipped with electric or partially electric drive systems.Mirror display is easy on the eyes
The mirror display of the innovative cam touchpad HMI eliminates the differences between close-proximity visibility and visibility over longer distances, thus contributing to the driver’s physiological safety in typical Mercedes style. The system displays driving and vehicle information via a mirror in the instrument cluster so that it appears to be further away. The distance the eye looks into is thus extended, which means less switching between near and far focus – and therefore less fatigue – for the eyes.New DISTRONIC PLUS Traffic Jam Assist function further reduces the stress of driving
In 2006, Mercedes-Benz introduced DISTRONIC PLUS, the world’s first proximity and speed control system that operates right up to the point at which the car comes to a standstill. The system substantially reduces driver stress in dense traffic, as it regulates the distance from the vehicle in front even at very low speeds, all the way down to a standstill. With its new DISTRONIC PLUS Traffic Jam Assist function in the F 800 Style, Mercedes-Benz has also become the world’s first car manufacturer to implement a system that is capable of following the vehicle in front of it into bends. The system recognises the difference between driving along twisting roads and turning corners, which means that it does not “blindly” follow the vehicle in front – for example, when the vehicle in front changes lanes in order to exit a motorway. The result is that, at speeds of up to about 40 km/h, the Traffic Jam Assist function takes care of both longitudinal and transverse movements so that the driver does not actually have to steer the car. When the 40 km/h mark is exceeded, the steering torque that keeps the vehicle in its lane is gradually reduced to a point at which the Traffic Jam Assist function is deactivated smoothly.“The DISTRONIC PLUS Traffic Jam Assist function is the logical continuation of the Mercedes-Benz assistance and safety philosophy. With it, we are setting another milestone on the path towards creating innovative systems, with which we will further enhance the high level of driving comfort that is a Mercedes hallmark,” says Professor Bharat Balasubramanian, Head of Product Innovations & Process Technologies at Group Research and Advanced Engineering.The required data is generated by radar distance sensors that are supplemented by a stereo camera. Drivers can, of course, override the system at any time. Sensitive sensors detect the driver’s active steering movements, thus automatically deactivating the system’s lateral control function.PRE-SAFE 360° improves safety in rear-end collisions
While the Traffic Jam Assist function heightens comfort and active safety, the PRE-SAFE 360° protection system further improves passive safety. PRE‑SAFE 360° is based on the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system developed by Mercedes-Benz. PRE-SAFE 360° also monitors the area behind the vehicle. As a result, the system applies the brakes around 600 milliseconds before an anticipated rear-end collision occurs. The key advantage of this system is that braking a stationary vehicle that is hit in the rear helps prevent secondary accidents such as those that occur when the car is catapulted uncontrollably towards a junction or a pedestrian crossing. Of course, PRE-SAFE 360° still allows the driver to take control at any time. For example, the brake is released immediately if the driver hits the accelerator knowing that there is sufficient space in front of his or her own vehicle to avoid being hit in the rear.Rear pivot-and-slide doors make for extremely easy entry
One particularly customer-friendly innovation for the F 800 Style is the rear-door design. Whereas the front doors are attached to the A-pillars in a conventional manner and open wide towards the front, the rear doors slide backwards when opened, as they are suspended from an interior swivel arm. Because the doors slide back close to the vehicle body, occupants find it much easier to get into and out of the car in tight parking spaces.The elegant F 800 Style also has no B-pillars, making the entire space between the A- and C-pillars fully accessible when the doors are opened. Despite the absence of B-pillars, the F 800 Style boasts an extremely robust and lightweight bodyshell that meets Mercedes’ typically stringent crash-safety requirements.Reinterpretation of the classic Mercedes-Benz design idiom
The F 800 Style is both a technology platform and a showcar. This research vehicle was created as a result of collaboration between technical research and advanced engineering departments and the advanced design studios in Sindelfingen, Germany and Como, Italy. Its exterior appearance is marked by a long wheelbase, short body overhangs and a sensually flowing roof line.“The exciting coupe-like roof line and the vehicle’s balanced proportions lend it a stylishly sporty look that reinterprets the Mercedes-Benz design idiom and emphasises the sculptural character of the F 800 Style,” says Mercedes-Benz Head of Design Professor Gorden Wagener. “The result is a harmonious blend of innovative form and function, which conveys a sense of great styling and authority.”Hallmark Mercedes front end with distinctive LED headlamps
The vehicle’s front end features a variation of the radiator grille with the centrally positioned star that is a hallmark of sporty Mercedes models. The curved radiator grille louvres flow softly around the tube holding the Mercedes star. Along with the wide radiator grille and the generously curved air intake openings, the model’s unique, powerful LED headlamps emphasise the dynamic nature of the research vehicle. The headlamps are divided into individual segments for daytime driving lights, turn signal indicators and main headlamps. The F 800 Style’s tail lights also feature state-of-the-art LED technology, which enables an exciting interplay of indirect illumination and direct beams. The result is an attractive, unmistakable and memorable visual effect.Wood and light create a cosy interior
Fine wood surfaces and plenty of light ensure a high level of comfort in the interior of the F 800 Style. Occupants will immediately notice the modern sense of lightness: functional elements such as the cockpit and the door armrests seem to float in space like sculptures. The lightweight-construction seats in the F 800 Style consist of a magnesium shell and a carbon-fibre laminate backrest across which resistant netting is stretched. The seat shell also features wood veneer. For the wood veneer process, the Mercedes-Benz engineers used a 3D surface coating procedure designed especially for the veneering of three-dimensional surfaces. This same procedure was used to create the wood finishing in the centre console, on the doors and in the cockpit. These wood finishing pieces are moulded as 3D laminated components and are augmented by an aluminium core, which ensures that the components meet Mercedes’ typically high crash-safety standards.Successful transfer from research to series production
Mercedes-Benz has presented 13 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 800 Style – 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 the DISTRONIC proximity control system, which was first installed in the F 100 in 1991 and made its series-production debut in the S-Class in 1998.The F 800 Style marks a continuation of this approach. 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 take on the “fascination and responsibility” theme.