The Research Cars of Mercedes-Benz
Oct 17, 2011
The future of powertrain engineering – the Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style
  • Vehicle: Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style
  • Introduced in: March 2010
  • Where: the International Motor Show in Geneva
  • Goal: Multiple drive platform for alternative drive systems in a study of a five-seater luxury saloon
  • Plug-in hybrid variant: V6 petrol engine (220 kW/300 hp) with next-generation direct injection combined with a hybrid module (80 kW/109 hp), lithium-ion battery with storage capacity in excess of 10 kWh
  • F-Cell variant: electric motor in the rear (100 kW/136 hp) with torque of around 290 newton metres, power for propulsion generated by a hydrogen fuel cell
Technical highlights
  • Multiple drive platform is suitable both as a plug-in HYBRID and as an electric vehicle with fuel cell.
  • New operating and display concept, Cam-Touch-Pad HMI (Human Machine Interface) and other innovations for more comfort and safety.
  • DISTRONIC PLUS traffic jam vehicle follow assist to provide additional support to the driver.
  • PRE-SAFE 360° for improved protection in the event of a rear-end collision
  • Body concept with rear pivot-and-slide doors.
At the International Motor Show in Geneva in March 2010, Mercedes-Benz revealed the future of the premium automobile from a new perspective in the form of the F 800 Style research vehicle. This five-seater luxury saloon combines highly efficient drive systems with unique safety and comfort functions as well as an emotional design idiom which interprets modern Mercedes-Benz design in terms of the cultivated sportiness typical for the brand.
The car boasts an innovative multiple drive platform that is the only one of its kind in the world for large saloons. This is suited both to electric drive with a fuel cell that allows a range of almost 600 kilometres and the use of a plug-in hybrid that can go up to 30 kilometres under electric power alone. Both variants of the F 800 Style therefore allow premium, local, emissions-free mobility that is also entirely practical while offering a dynamic driving experience.
With an exterior length of 4.75 metres, all of the components of the F 800 Style’s efficient and environmentally friendly alternative drive systems have been economically incorporated into the engine compartment and the spaces in the vehicle chassis. Both drive systems require relatively little installation space. This is particularly relevant for the fuel cell drive system which has been specifically optimised by Mercedes-Benz with regard to compactness and power ouput. Thanks to the consistent reduction of the size of all components in the front end, the vehicle’s interior has remained unaffected and offers ample space for five passengers.
In 2010, the F 800 Style showcased innovations that were almost ready for series production at Mercedes-Benz thanks to many years of research and development in the field of alternative drive systems. This applies both to the electric drive and the plug-in hybrid drive. Their components are taken from the brand’s modular assembly system for electric and hybrid vehicles.
F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid: plenty of power and just 68 grams of CO2 per kilometre
The drive system of the high-powered plug-in hybrid variant of the F 800 Style consists of a V6 petrol engine with next-generation direct injection and an output of around 220 kW (300 hp) and a hybrid module with output of around 80 kW (109 hp), meaning that a total output of 300 kW (408 hp) is available. The lithium-ion battery, which can store more than 10 kWh, can be charged at a charging station or using a household socket.
Using the hybrid module, the F 800 Style can run purely on electrical power in urban driving situations, thus eliminating local emissions. High torque from a standing start even in electrical mode allows driving performance on a par with a V6 petrol engine. The range for electrical propulsion is up to 30 kilometres. The F 800 Style research vehicle therefore marks an important step towards preparing the plug-in hybrid for the market. Certified consumption amounts to just 2.9 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres, which corresponds to extremely low CO2 emissions of just 68 grams per kilometre. At the same time, the F 800 Style with plug-in hybrid offers driving performance on a par with a sports car, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.8 seconds and boasting a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) – 120 km/h (75 mph) solely under electric propulsion).
The F 800 Style’s electric module is fully integrated into the housing for the 7G-TRONIC seven gear automatic transmission, while the lithium-ion battery is installed under the rear seat to save space. This position allows for a low centre of gravity, and offers the best possible safety in the event of a crash.
Flexible, safe and completely practical: the F 800 Style with electric drive based on fuel-cell technology
The F 800 Style variant with electric drive based on fuel-cell technology offers motoring pleasure with zero emissions except for steam. The around 100 kW (136 hp) electric motor generates impressive torque in the region of 290 newton metres. The on-board fuel cell generates the power for driving from a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, producing only steam as its sole emission.
The components for the fuel-cell drive system are taken from the E-Drive modular assembly system which Mercedes-Benz developed for various electric vehicles. The individual parts can be used flexibly, and have been used in small-scale production for the first time in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL since 2010. In the F 800 Style with F-CELL technology the fuel cell is located in the front section of the vehicle, while the compact electric motor is installed near the rear axle. The lithium-ion battery behind the rear seats has the best possible protection against the consequences of an accident, as do the four hydrogen tanks.
Innovations for more comfort and safety
In addition to the multiple drive platform that is unique for large saloons and the combination of various alternative drive systems, the F 800 Style also offers a number of other technical innovations. These include a new operating and display concept as well as an HMI (Human Machine Interface) with Cam-Touch-Pad, an intelligent system expansion for COMAND.
The controls consist of a touchpad in the centre console and a camera that records video images of the user’s hand on the touchpad. The hand is displayed transparently in the central display above the centre console. The user sees the contours of his/her fingers moving over the image without concealing any of the details. All of the functions of the menu being displayed remain visible, and can be selected by gently touching the touchpad. Similarly to a laptop keyboard, gentle haptic feedback is received. Actions carried out by tapping with the finger are therefore registered by the sense of touch. The Cam-Touch-Pad HMI recognises finger actions on the operating surface such as wiping, pushing, rotating and zooming and allows the intuitive management of the air conditioning, telephone, audio and navigation systems as well as internet access.
Because operation is so simple and convenient and the driver is less distracted from what is happening on the road, this system also plays a part in improving driver-fitness safety. The driver is also aided by the mirror display of the innovative HMI (Human Machine Interface) display system with Cam-Touch-Pad. The driving and vehicle information is displayed in the instrument cluster using a mirror, making it seem further away. This increases the perceived distance to the object, which means that the eyes are no longer required to switch so dramatically between short and long-distance vision.
Graphic range display in electric mode
With the “range on map” function, the engineers at Mercedes-Benz have developed a particularly user-friendly innovation. The system displays the available radius under electric power as a 360-degree circle on a map. If, in the future, city councils only allow electric vehicle traffic, the driver will be able to use the „range on map“ function to determine whether his/her vehicle has enough range to enter and leave the city limits. The system does this by combining information on the battery’s current level of charge with data from the navigation system.
DISTRONIC PLUS traffic jam vehicle follow assist
In 2006 Mercedes-Benz brought out DISTRONIC PLUS, the first proximity and speed control system in the world, which continues working up to the point that the vehicle comes to a standstill. With the new DISTRONIC PLUS traffic jam vehicle follow assist function in the F 800 Style, Mercedes-Benz has revealed the first system in the world capable of following the vehicle in front around bends. The driver is therefore no longer required to steer, as the function takes over driving in a queue of traffic both longitudinally and laterally, up to a speed of 40 km/h. At the same time, the system recognises the difference between following a bend and turning off and in so doing avoids “blindly” following the car in front, for example if that driver is changing lanes in order to leave the motorway.
PRE-SAFE 360° improves protection in the event of rear-end collisions
The innovative PRE-SAFE 360° protection system, based on the pro-active PRE-SAFE® occupant protection system developed by Mercedes-Benz, also monitors the vehicle’s immediate surroundings towards the rear. It activates the brakes around 600 milliseconds before a pending rear-end collision. This helps avoid secondary accidents such as the uncontrolled catapulting of the affected vehicle into a junction or onto the pavement.
Rear pivot-and-slide doors
The rear doors of the F 800 Style represent an ergonomic innovation. While the front doors are hinged at the A-pillar as usual and open very wide, the rear doors, which are attached via an internal pivot arm, slide back when opened. As they remain close to the vehicle body, entering and exiting the vehicle in tight parking spaces is made much easier. At the same time, the elegantly designed F 800 Style does away with a B-pillar entirely, with the result that the entire space between the A-pillar and the C-pillar is freely accessible with both doors open.
New interpretation of the design idiom of Mercedes-Benz
The F 800 Style is both technology vehicle and show car. This is because the vehicle was the result of close collaboration between the technical research and predevelopment departments and the Advanced Design Studios in Sindelfingen and Como in Italy. Its appearance is defined by the long wheelbase, short body overhangs and the elegantly flowing roofline.
The front view displays a variation on the typical radiator grille with central star that is typical for sporty Mercedes-Benz models. The curved bars of the radiator grille flow around the tube of the Mercedes-Benz brand star. Together with the wide radiator grille and gracefully curving ventilation holes, the unique and bright front LED headlights underscore the research vehicle’s dynamic image. The front headlights are divided into separate segments for daytime driving, indicating and the main lights. The tail lights of the F 800 Style also feature the latest LED technology. These allow an interesting interplay between indirect lighting and direct illumination. The result is an attractive, unmistakeable and lasting impression.
Inside, wood surfaces and strong light ensure a high level of comfort. The modern lightness is apparent at first glance. Functional elements, such as the cockpit and door strips with armrests seem to be suspended in mid-air like sculptures. The innovative lightweight seats consist of a magnesium shell and a backrest made of carbon fibre laminate, over which a highly durable mesh material has been fitted.
The engineers use technology specially developed technology for the veneering of three-dimensional objects for the genuine wood veneers. This 3D surfacing process was also used to finish the wooden elements in the centre console, on the doors and in the cockpit. An aluminium core ensures that the typical requirements of Mercedes-Benz with regard to crash-safety are met.
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