Mercedes Benz First implemented technology

Leading through innovation

Even more than its meticulous engineering, Mercedes-Benz is defined by its continuous innovation. Since inventing the car in 1886, we’ve simply never stopped reinventing it.

What begins as a breakthrough becomes the standard for every car on the road.

Mercedes-Benz has a history of making history. Since the first car, Mercedes-Benz has set the pace for what all cars might someday become. With an ongoing stream of firsts in safety, performance and driving enjoyment, it’s an ever more exciting roadmap to the future. And while there’s a neverending roster of new achievements, there’s only one reason the world’s first automaker remains first in innovation. Carl Benz said it best: “The love of inventing never dies.”

Discover more about the Mercedes innovation:


The first car:

In 1886, Carl Benz is awarded German patent number 37435 for a three-wheeled, self-propelled “Motorwagen”. With a rear-mounted single-cylinder engine, the first automobile forever changes the way people move, and sparks a legacy of innovation that continues to this day.

iThe first female driver:

“Bertha Benz, Carl’s wife, decided to help promote his invention by taking it on a 120-mile tour without his prior knowledge. She also served as her own mechanic on the trip.”


  • 1894 – The first auto race

    A Paris magazine sponsors the first official auto race, and a Daimler-powered car captures the historic win.
  • 1901 – Honeycomb radiator

    Among the features of the first car to wear the Mercedes name is its closed cooling system, a highly efficient design made possible by the texture of its radiator.
  • 1906 – Electric-powered car

    Several Mercedes passenger cars, trucks, buses and fire service vehicles became available with battery-electric propulsion, an early ancestor of today’s hybrid drive.
  • 1910 – The multivalve engine

    The Benz Special Touring Car is first to employ four valves per cylinder to improve both performance and fuel consumption.
  • 1921 – Supercharged engine

    A compressor driven by the engine noticeably increases the power of several Mercedes models by pressurizing the fuel-air mixture.

4-wheel independent suspension:

The Mercedes 170 features the first-ever fully independent suspension, which allows each wheel to respond individually. Along with a new hydraulic braking system, the 170 sets new performance and safety benchmarks that remain the gold standard today.

Independent thinking, inspiring control:

“Precise wheel control is a guiding principle of many later handling and comfort breakthroughs, from the first 4-wheel independent suspension on an SUV (the original M-Class), to the highly advanced Active Body Control (ABC), to the elegant simplicity of AGILITY CONTROL.”

  • 1936 – Diesel passenger car

    The first diesel passenger car, the 260D, uses about 30% less fuel than its gasoline counterpart, and does so without the maintenance of ignition components.
  • 1939 – Passenger-car safety development

    Lead by engineer Béla Barényi, Mercedes-Benz formally begins safety research with a test vehicle featuring a highly rigid floor, side-impact protection and a collapsible steering column.
  • 1949 – Conical-pin door lock

    Designed to help prevent the doors from opening in an accident, this patented, extremely strong door latch is the first of its kind.
  • 1951 – Crumple zone (series production: 1959)

    Béla Barényi’s research leads to a patent for the first safety car body with a rigid passenger cell and defined deformation zones, a concept used universally today.

Crash testing program:

For the first time, development of every new Mercedes includes an increasingly rigorous regimen of crash-testing. This vital learning tool was initially performed outdoors.


  • 1963 – Gated shifter

    On the first SL to offer an automatic transmission, an ingenious notched layout facilitated selection of all four forward gears without a pushbutton release. It remains an industry standard.
  • 1973 – Offset-frontal crash test

    One of many evolutions of the crash test program, the “partial overlap” barrier crash more accurately simulates the concentration of forces in real-world collisions.

Antilock Braking System (ABS):

A concept first unveiled in 1970, ABS helps the driver retain steering control under heavy braking by preventing wheel lockup. It remains both a milestone in automotive safety and a cornerstone, with the ability to individually brake wheels serving as a fundamental element of countless future breakthroughs.

Brakes that accelerated progress:

“Single-wheel braking can also generate corrective rotation of a car about its vertical axis. This fundamental ABS benefit has since been put to use in innovations from electronic traction control and stability control to Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist.”

  • 1982 – Multilink suspension

    Debuting on the compact 190-Class, this breakthrough 5-arm rear suspension design provides a new level of handling precision, ride comfort and active safety.
  • 1985 – 4MATIC all-wheel drive (AWD)

    The AWD E-Class debuts along with two electronic traction systems for rear-wheel-drive cars: the automatic differential lock (ASD) and automatic skid control (ASR).
  • 1991 – CFC-Free climate control

    Long before other automakers, Mercedes-Benz removes these eco-unfriendly chemicals not just from its air conditioning systems but the entire manufacturing process.
  • 1992 – Controller Area Network (CAN)

    A breakthrough in automotive electronics, the networking of numerous components allows more precise and rapid control, along with new levels of feature interaction.
  • 1995 – Electronic Stability Program (ESP®)

    Perhaps the most important safety breakthrough since the air bag, ESP helps maintain control in corners and evasive maneuvers. It is now required by law on all cars.
  • 1997 – SmartKey

    Changing the tide in both convenience and antitheft protection, the compact SmartKey uses an electronic code to unlock and start the car, rather than a mechanical lock.

Tele Aid and Embrace:

Introduced as Tele Aid and later enhanced under the mbrace® banner, this continually advancing suite of security, convenience and navigation features can connect drivers to their vehicle or to Mercedes-Benz Customer Assistance via smartphone, computer or three buttons inside the car. In 2012, the new mbrace2™ brought the Internet into the car, with new apps and expanded remote and in-car features.

Your world, in motion:

“With mbrace2, you can easily navigate to places you find on Google, Yelp or even Facebook friends’ check-ins, all from your car.”

  • 2000


A groundbreaking system that can help prepare the occupants for an accident before it happens, PRE-SAFE can detect that certain types of collision might be imminent. In the precious moments before impact, it can snug the front seat belts and adjust the front head restraints to help optimize the effectiveness of the restraint systems.

Safety first, when seconds count:

“PRE-SAFE responds when active safety systems like ESP are fully engaged but not restoring control. If it senses a severe sideways skid, it can even close the windows and sunroof. And if no accident occurs, the seat-belt tensioners reverse, you reopen your windows, and continue on your way.”

  • 2006 – DISTRONIC PLUS with PRE-SAFE Brake:

    Even when not using the cruise control, it looks ahead for stopped traffic, alerts the driver, and even starts the braking process to help reduce the speed of impact.


After measuring over 70 parameters in the first few minutes of a drive, this innovation can help detect signs of drowsiness and audibly alert the driver to take a break.

Added sensitivity, no added sensors:

“Remarkably, ATTENTION ASSIST operates entirely from sensors already in a Mercedes-Benz. It cleverly tracks and compiles input from existing systems, from steering behavior to a lack of interaction with dashboard controls, to determine that a driver might be getting drowsy.”

Car-to-X Communication:

This next-generation system in the 2017 E-Class shares critical information with other vehicles equipped with the technology in order to help warn of potential danger – such as slippery road conditions, fog, heavy rain, and even accidents and break-downs – earlier than ever previously possible. Someday millions of cars could include this kind of technology, making driving safer and smarter than ever.

A visionary enhancement to vehicle perception:

“Automated vehicle communication represents an important evolution in our ability to detect danger on the road: It allows equipped vehicles to communicate critical information by means of a cloud-based system. It works in addition to vehicle cameras and sensors – as well as the driver’s own senses – to amplify our awareness of driving conditions.”

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