Hybrids, fuel cells, and electric motors are all the rage today, spawning bug-shaped cars littered with badges, flaunting how they are single-handedly saving the world. The latest Mercedes-Benz concept, the F800 Style, shows that Mercedes-Benz has a much different view on the hybrid hysteria – making green technology look gorgeous.
Blending emotional styling with super-efficient drivetrains, the F800 Style pioneers a new era of Mercedes-Benz. The five-passenger premium sedan offers refined comfort and innovative technology with a stunning design. Two drive platforms are showcased in the new F800 Style: an efficient Plug-in-Hybrid, and a clean electric drive based on fuel cell technology. The design of the F800 chassis allows for both systems to be placed in a space saving manner, allowing for increased safety and uncompromised interior space.
The Plug-in-Hybrid system allows the Mercedes F800 Style to be a dynamic and efficient automobile. Powering the car is a 300 hp direct injection V-6 gasoline engine mated to a 109 hp hybrid module. Electricity is stored in a lithium-ion battery with a capacity greater than 10 kWh, and can be charged by a household socket or charging station. For safety the batteries are located under the rear seats. With the Plug-in-Hybrid system, the Mercedes F800 can travel up to 18 miles solely on electricity, while offering the same performance as with the V-6 engine. Performance for the F800 is impressive, accelerating to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, and reaching a top speed of 155 mph. The F800 can reach a speed of 75 mph in electric mode. Fuel consumption is certified at 2.9 liters of gasoline per 100 km (approx. 81 mpg), and emits only 68 grams of CO2 per kilometer.
An electric drive based on fuel cell technology is also featured in the Mercedes F800 Style concept. The electric motor produces 136 hp and 214 lb-ft. of torque and is located at the rear of the car. Based on the current e-drive modules developed by Mercedes-Benz, the fuel cell generates traction current by chemically reacting hydrogen with oxygen. The lithium-ion battery is stored behind the rear seat and is protected against accidents, while the fuel cell is located in the engine bay. Hydrogen tanks are fitted in both the transmission tunnel beneath passengers and under the rear seats. The only emission produced by the system is water vapor – for watering plants of course.
The design of the F800 embodies classic Mercedes-Benz styling, while producing a sleek, modern shape. The roofline flows to create a smooth coupe-like profile. A powerful radiator grille with three-pointed star portrays traditional Mercedes-Benz character. New LED headlights give the Mercedes F800 road presence, and are divided into daytime running lights, turn signals, and primary headlights. Rear doors are suspended on an interior swivel arm and slide backwards for easy access. A modern and light interior greets passengers. Elements throughout the cabin have been designed to float and provide an airy feeling. Wood veneer dresses the interior trim and seatbacks, fabricated using a new three-dimensional surface coating process.
Continuing the electric and efficiency theme, the Mercedes F800 Style is jam-packed with technology, the most notable being the new human-machine interface (HMI). The HMI system is operated by a touchpad on the center console and a camera that records the actions of the user’s hand. The images are then shown in transparent form on the display above the console. The transparent image allows the user to see functions and menus on the display without being covered by the user’s fingers. The touchpad unit is programmed to recognize finger movements to regulate stereo, climate control, and other functions. Also featured on the cam touchpad HMI is a mirror display in the instrument cluster. Information is displayed on a mirror so the information appears father away, thus reducing eye fatigue.
Also featured is the new Distronic Plus Traffic Jam Assistant system. When stuck in annoying traffic jams the system is capable of following the car in front of it up to speeds of 25 mph. For the first time ever the system is also able to follow cars into curves, and is programmed to distinguish a turn from a corner so that the system doesn’t blindly follow a car. The driver can also override the system at any time.
For added safety the new Pre-Safe 360° system provides a proactive response to rear-end collisions. Pre-Safe 360° monitors the rear of the car, and upon an impending rear-end collision engages the brakes in just 600 milliseconds. By braking, the system reduces secondary accidents when the car is pushed. The driver can disengage pre-Safe 360° by pressing the gas pedal if there is sufficient space ahead to avoid a collision.
The Mercedes F800 Style concept is a beautiful interpretation of efficiency, technology, and modern design at a time when going green can seem boring and bland. Much of the technology and styling of the concept will be seen in future models, such as the Plug-in-Hybrid system that is to be introduced on the next-generation S500. The world debut of the Mercedes-Benz F800 Style will take place at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show.