Mercedes-Benz (sometimes shortened to just Mercedes or Benz) is a German brand name of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks created for Daimler-Benz AG and now owned by DaimlerChrysler AG. The Daimler-Benz company originated on June 28, 1926 when two companies, Benz & Cie. and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG), the inventors of the automobile, merged.
Established in 1871, Benz & Cie. was the most important of several companies founded by Karl Benz. DMG was founded by Gottlieb Daimler and his partner Wilhelm Maybach in 1890, but Daimler died in 1900 and Maybach left DMG in 1907, by which time the two companies were rivals. In 1924, owing to economic necessity after World War One, they entered into an "Agreement of Mutual Interest" (valid until the year 2000), however, this initial agreement still allowed each company to manufacture and sell their products under their original brand names. It was only after the 1926 official merger, that the brand Mercedes-Benz was created and used.
Mercedes-Benz is the brand name applied to the models of one of the premier automotive manufacturers in the world and, because of its tie to Karl Benz, it is also the name of the world's oldest continuously produced automobile line. In 1926 when the new company, Daimler-Benz was established through merger, a new logo also was created that would include a symbol for each and integrate the names of the two former companies. A three-pointed star had been designed by Gottlieb Daimler, to show the ability of his motors for land, air, and sea use. This star first appeared on a DMG model in 1909, so it was chosen for the new logo. However the brand name Daimler was compromised after the death of Daimler in 1900, and allowed to be used on other automobiles, so the name of its seminal Mercedes model was chosen for the DMG portion of the logo. The traditional laurel symbol of Karl Benz was added along with his name to complete the new logo. The logo with a plain ring, as seen today, was not used until 1937.
Mercedes-Benz automobiles have introduced- both in the past and present - many technological and safety features (see details below). It was in 1998, when Daimler-Benz and Chrysler agreed to combine their businesses - known as the "merger of equals", that a new entity, DaimlerChrysler AG was created.
The origins of the Daimler-Benz company founded through a merger in 1926 date back to the mid-1880s, when Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900) working with Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929), and Karl Benz (1844-1929) independently invented the internal combustion engine-powered automobile, in southwestern Germany. Although they were merely sixty miles apart, these pioneers were unaware of each other's early work.
Karl Benz had his shop in Mannheim and invented the world's first true automobile powered by an internal combustion engine in 1885. It had three wheels. He was granted a patent for his automobile, dated January 29, 1886, for what he called the "Benz Patent Motorwagen". Among many inventions, Benz patented his first engine in 1879 and included in his 'integral' design for the Motorwagen patent application, a high-speed single-cylinder four-stroke engine of his own design.
In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler and design partner Wilhelm Maybach, working in Cannstatt, Stuttgart, were granted a patent dated August 29, 1885 for what is generally recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine, that they named the "grandfather clock engine".
On March 8, 1886, Daimler purchased a stagecoach made by Wilhelm Wimpff & Sohn and he and Maybach adapted it to hold this engine, thereby creating a four-wheeled carriage propelled by an engine, as many had before them. The only distinction about this carriage was that it carried an internal combustion engine. None of many similar attempts to adapt carts, boats, or carriages, in many countries, were propelled by this type of engine. On the official history pages of the Mercedes-Benz Internet site it is referred to as "a carriage - without a drawbar but with the conventional drawbar steering. A carriage without horses..." Daimler and Maybach later purposely built, from scratch, the first four-stroke engine powered automobile with four wheels in 1889. They founded DMG in 1890 and sold their first automobile in 1892.
Stationary engines were his major business and he invented many improvements to them and their application, but Karl Benz continued to refine his Motorwagen through several models and sold his first automobile in 1888. He built his first four-wheeled model in 1891. Benz & Cie, the company started by the inventor, became the world's largest manufacturer of automobiles by 1900.
In 1899, DMG automobiles built at Untertürkheim (a city district of Stuttgart) were raced successfully by Emil Jellinek (1853-1918), an automobile enthusiast and dealer. He had the name of his daughter, Mercedes, painted on the automobiles for good luck. Wanting faster race cars, it was Jellinek who spurred the development of the seminal 1900 DMG model that would be the first of the DMG Mercedes series, bearing the name of his daughter.
After suggesting some design specifications, he promised to purchase thirty-six of the new DMG model if Maybach would name the new 35 hp engine contained in it the Daimler-Mercedes engine. A contract of five hundred and fifty thousand marks was made for these new models. Within weeks he contracted for thirty-six of another DMG model with 8 hp engines. He was granted an exclusive concession to sell the new DMG automobiles in Austria-Hungary, France, Belgium, and USA.
That new model later would be named "Mercedes 35 hp" and it was a very important advance in automobile design. The contract called for delivery of the first automobile to Jellinek in the Fall, but it did not reach him until December 22, 1900. He became obsessed with the name Mercedes and even had his name changed to Jellinek-Mercedes. Jellinek was invited to sit on the DMG board of directors, which he did from 1901 until 1909, when he retired from automotive activities in favor of diplomatic appointments.
The name change also was helpful in preventing legal troubles, because after the death of Daimler, DMG had sold exclusive rights to the name, Daimler, and technical concepts to companies abroad. As a result, luxury automobiles branded Daimler were, and still are, built in England. A fire that gutted the old Steinway piano factory in New York, which had been converted to produce the new Mercedes models, cut short the dream of American production.
The rival companies of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) and Benz & Cie. started to cooperate in 1924, due to necessity arising from a troubled German economy after World War I, and finally merged in 1926 to become Daimler-Benz AG, which produced Mercedes-Benz automobiles and trucks. The merger agreement established that the two companies were required to remain together until 2000. While focusing on land vehicles, Mercedes-Benz also built engines to power boats and airplanes (military and civil), and even Zeppelins. Karl Benz died in 1929.
During the Second World War, Daimler-Benz is known to have exploited more than 30,000 forced workers and prisoners of war, some of whom would eventually strike, and be sent to concentration camps. This working force soon became essential to the production capacity of the company after 1941, and was a key to the construction of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe and war machine.
Although the brand is most famous for limousine models, a siginificant number of notable sports cars have also been produced. For example, the early supercharged SSK developed by Ferdinand Porsche. Another distinctive model was the iconic 300SL Gullwing of 1954; that was suggested by Max Hoffman, explicitly for the USA market, and introduced at the New York Autombile Show.
Mercedes-Benz has also produced higher volume, less expensive cars. Interestingly, the prototypes of the Volkswagen were built and tested in Stuttgart, in cooperation with Porsche. Before that, Mercedes-Benz had a similar rear-engined, yet rather unsuccessful, small car, the 130 H. In recent years Mercedes have produced the relatively cheap A-Class. Also the Smart brand of small affordable automobiles has been part of the Mercedes-Benz Group since 1994 and are still producing cars today in conjunction with DaimlerChrysler AG.
Besides its native Germany, Mercedes-Benz are also manufactured or assembled in:
* South Africa
* United States of America
* Argentina (Buses, Trucks and the van Sprinter. the first factory of Mercedes-Benz outside of Germany)
* South Korea
* United Kingdom (The SLR supercar is built here at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking).
* 1936: 260 D World's first diesel production car
* 1938: W195 Speed Record-breaker
* 1953: "Ponton" Models
* 1954: 300SL "Gullwing"
* 1959: "Fintail" Models
* 1960: 220SE Cabriolet
* 1963: 600 "Grand Mercedes"
* 1965: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
* 1966: 300SEL 6.3
* 1969: C111 experimental vehicle
* 1972: Mercedes-Benz W107 350SL
* 1974: 450SEL 6.9
* 1974: 240D
* 1975: 280
* 1976: 300D
* 1979: 500SEL
* 1983: 190E 2.3-16
* 1986: First 'E-Class'
* 1995: First 'Joint Mercedes-Benz & AMG'
* 1997: Mercedes-Benz M-Class
* 1998: Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
* 1991: 600SEL
* 2***: Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG
* 2004: Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
* 2005: Mercedes-Benz CLS
* 2007: Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
* 2007: E320 and GL320 Bluetec
* Mercedes-Benz F300 Lifejet - Car/Motorcycle unveiled in 1997 at Frankfurt
* Mercedes-Benz Bionic - Car unveiled in 2005 DaimlerChrysler Innovation Symposium in Washington, modelled after boxfish.