The semi-autonomous new E-Class
It sets new standards for safety, efficiency and automobile intelligence.
On 29 January 1886 Carl Benz applied to the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin for the most significant patent of the industrial age: a "motorised vehicle powered by a gas engine" - the initial idea behind all further automobile designs in the century that followed. 130 years later, on 11 January 2016, Mercedes-Benz is in "Motown" Detroit to show the new E-Class, the car with the technological capability to revolutionise mobility all over again.
As the inventor of the automobile, Mercedes-Benz continues to press forward with the development of mobility in all areas. The company's expertise at both a technical and a conceptual level is underscored by more than 90,000 registered patents, together with a long list of innovations that were first introduced to the market in models from Mercedes – these range from engines to safety, comfort and design features. The absolute state of the art of automotive development in all these areas is reflected by the new E-Class.
Just two examples: the innovative plug-in hybrid drive system, coupled with lightweight construction techniques and superb aerodynamic performance, sets new standards for efficiency. The similarly new multi-chamber air suspension is an option that ensures outstanding ride comfort. The tremendous scope of the E‑Class's innovative features, which include among them the Active Lane-change Assistant that steers the saloon as if by magic into the lane selected by the driver, makes it the most intelligent saloon in the business class.
It is this intelligence that also makes the new E-Class a milestone on the way to the self-driving automobile - for Mercedes-Benz and for the automotive industry as a whole. The latest evidence of this special status was provided just a few days ago, when the authorities in the US state of Nevada gave their approval to allow the testing of autonomous driving with the new E-Class – not with a prototype, but with a production vehicle. Mercedes-Benz was the first motor manufacturer in the world to receive the relevant licence during this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
The processing power of the car's high-tech electrical/electronic systems and its IT infrastructure, together with its sensors, allow a level of mobile autonomy hitherto unmatched in series production: the driver only needs to steer – assuming they wish to do so - on a temporary basis. The traffic lane and speed are regulated, while the vehicle reacts to speed limits and to the traffic around it.