The origins of Mercedes-Benz are the origins of the automobile itself. After all, Karl Benz’s 1885 Patent Motorwagen is widely considered to be the world’s first car. It was the first vehicle with engine parts built specifically for internal combustion propulsion, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward one and one-third century later and the German automobile and parts manufacturing giant are not exactly the pioneering entity it was back in the Victorian Era. Today’s breakthroughs in refined modes of vehicle propulsion and operation – mainly advanced electric and self-driving – have mostly been achieved by relatively new players in the car industry.
It could appear as though Mercedes-Benz is no longer paving the way for the cars of tomorrow – but looks can be deceiving. As it turns out, the seasoned automaker is deeply invested in playing a central role in how the cars of the mid-21st century are going to look and feel, and consequently what car parts carry over from the 20th-century models we’ve come to love. The focus of Mercedes’ efforts is placed almost entirely on its concept car known as the F 015, which no doubt represents where the company sees itself going in the years ahead, as well as the automotive industry in general.
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 is driven by 14 onboard computers, ten of which are MacBook Pros. At idle, the humming of machines replaces the enchanting purr of a Mercedes engine. Instead of replacing mechanical engine parts, one will need to replace advanced electrical Mercedes parts; and perhaps might even need to be proficient in basic programming to integrate the high-tech, yet probably still tricky, computer parts and systems. It’s likely by the time the F 015 transitions from workroom to a showroom, its onboard computer array will consist of proprietary, standardized processors and other electric parts designed specifically for Mercedes-Benz vehicles. And like all other Mercedes car parts, there’s a good chance these computers will be sold as genuine Mercedes parts not unlike starters, spark plugs and water pumps for today’s automobiles.
It’s worth noting the F 015’s computers are mostly devoted to cabin accommodations and other interior accessories, as opposed to controlling the vehicle’s autonomy. In fact, those previously mentioned MacBooks are all devoted to luxury systems and accessories for passengers, with the remaining four providing the processing power needed by the vehicle to drive itself and efficiently distribute its electric fuel.This comes as no surprise, especially after visiting the company’s official page regarding the ins and outs of the Mercedes-Benz F 015. The theme throughout is “luxury in motion” with an emphasis on the passenger experience, rather than the mechanical and electrical engineering involved in the operation of the car on the road.
As John Mcilroy of CNN recently pointed out, Mercedes-Benz seems to recognize the limited room for improvement upon existing self-driving car technology. So instead of trying to be an innovator of new engine parts under the hood, they want to innovate advanced, proprietary Mercedes-Benz interior parts behind the windshield.
The seating configuration seems identical to the competition at first-glance, but a closer inspection reveals superior leg room when moved into the conference position. In vehicles with a similar arrangement, imagining four people facing each other leads one to envision eight legs crisscrossing each other in an uncomfortable manner. The assumption with the competition is that the traditional seating configuration would have to be utilized if four people are in the car at once. Yet, in the F 015 it’s easy to envision four passengers in conference position with floor space to spare.
The crown jewels of the F 015 prototype are undoubtedly the six displays installed in the doors, center console, and rear of the cabin. Mercedes-Benz touts these touchscreens as the way in which passengers maintain productivity in transit as well as interact with the outside world. While Mcilroy notes the displays are a bit outdated (the prototype first started touring in 2015) it’s safe to say the final draft will feature an updated array.
For now, Mercedes fans can only wait in anticipation for the arrival of the F 015 in its showroom form. At the current pace, it’s a safe bet the tried and true internal combustion engine with a human behind the wheel will remain the standard way to get around town for several more years.