2023.11.24 12:03
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Mercedes-Benz is going to teach the new forces a lesson.

Author | Zhou Zhiyu 54 years ago at the Frankfurt Motor Show, a car with gull-wing doors, a low-slung body, and a bold orange color scheme stunned the entire exhibition. This was the Mercedes-Benz C111 experimental vehicle, hailed as a "laboratory on wheels." With a power output of up to 350 horsepower, it could effortlessly reach speeds of 300 kilometers per hour.

A 54 years ago at the Frankfurt Motor Show, a car with gull-wing doors, a low-slung body, and a bold orange color scheme stunned the entire exhibition. This was the Mercedes C111 experimental car, hailed as the "laboratory on wheels".

With a power output of up to 350 horsepower, it could easily reach speeds of 300 kilometers per hour. The C111 experimental car represented Mercedes' cutting-edge thinking in the era of fuel-powered cars, and it set the direction for the appearance and power of global sports cars for decades to come. Even today, many car models still incorporate elements from the C111 experimental car.

Half a century later, at the Guangzhou Motor Show, Chinese domestic brands and new forces have dominated the discourse in the era of new energy vehicles, and various car companies are trying to gain a first-mover advantage in the second half of the intelligent era. Faced with fierce competition in the market, Mercedes still wants to lead the trend of the times.

At the Mercedes Technology Day on November 16th, Mercedes unveiled the Vision One-Eleven concept car. With this car, they hope to recreate the popularity of the Mercedes C111 experimental car.

Duan Jianjun, President and CEO of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co., Ltd., said that the Vision One-Eleven concept car draws inspiration from the C111 experimental car. It is the countless classic works that together form the brand's innovative core, making Mercedes what it is today, and even surpassing itself within Mercedes.

On the eve of the Guangzhou Motor Show, Mercedes changed its usual "Mercedes Night" to "Mercedes Technology and Innovation Day". Behind this small change is Mercedes, a brand that emphasizes luxury, wanting to showcase its achievements in electrification technology and intelligence to the outside world. In doing so, they aim to teach the new forces a lesson.

At first glance, the successor to the C111 experimental car, the Vision One-Eleven, exudes a strong sense of technology. While retaining the classic gull-wing doors and orange color scheme, it also features a 3D pixelated display, a rounded rectangular steering wheel reminiscent of a racing car, and a long pixelated screen spanning the cockpit, indicating the direction of the future evolution of the Mercedes MBUX Hyperscreen.

While showcasing future intelligent scenarios, Mercedes also used the Vision One-Eleven concept car to demonstrate its "V12 for the electric era" - the innovative axial flux motor developed by YASA.

Moritz Kilper, an engineer in the AMG.EA platform motor development team, said that the AMG brand will be the first to equip YASA axial flux motors on mass-produced electric vehicles. The motor's lighter weight, smaller size, and higher continuous power output characteristics can meet AMG's pursuit of high performance and enhance the driving experience.

This is also an important reason why YASA axial flux motors have gained favor from Mercedes. Unlike traditional radial motors, YASA axial flux motors have a stronger magnetic field in the same volume, resulting in more efficient power performance. The axial flux motor mounted on the Vision One-Eleven concept car weighs and occupies only one-third of the volume of a radially flux motor with the same output power. This allows for more flexible design layouts and reduces the weight of the car, improves the range, and so on.

Before Mercedes-Benz, luxury car brands such as Ferrari, McLaren, and Jaguar have all adopted axial flux motor solutions, but issues such as heat dissipation and wear have hindered large-scale production of axial flux motors.

Copper also admitted that YASA still needs to conduct a large number of tests before mass production to ensure the motor meets stringent requirements. In addition, Mercedes-Benz is also using high-performance liquid-cooled cylindrical batteries and innovative battery chemistry technology to further improve the performance of the motor compared to current motors in terms of power.

If these innovative technologies can be "deployed" in the future, Mercedes-Benz can also break the existing market and consumer perceptions in the era of new energy.

Today, the Chinese new energy vehicle market has entered an era of fierce competition among numerous players. From the battle of electrification to the battle of intelligence, players on the field are not willing to easily leave the table. This is also reflected at the Guangzhou Auto Show, where brands such as Hongmeng Zhixing, Xiaopeng, Li Xiang, and Zhiji all highlight their intelligence as selling points. Even Xiaomi, which has gained popularity before its launch, is also expected to excel in intelligence.

In addition to the Vision One-Eleven and YASA axial motor, Mercedes-Benz also showcased the all-new E-Class facelift at the auto show, with "intelligence" as a major selling point.

Tang Shikai, a member of the Mercedes-Benz Board of Management responsible for the Greater China region, said that Mercedes-Benz's technological highlights are reflected in both fuel and new energy vehicle models. With the efforts of the local R&D team, Mercedes-Benz will launch more and more China-exclusive products and services in the future.

Tang Shikai expects that by the end of this year, the size of Mercedes-Benz's local R&D team in China will grow to 2,000 people. In the future, it will also closely collaborate with local partners to promote local R&D based on the foundation of adhering to the Mercedes-Benz genes. These innovative achievements originating from China will also contribute to the global market.

Indeed, China's new energy market is heating up, and many domestic brands hope to seize the opportunity to enter the luxury car market. However, as Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius put it, the luxury car battle has not yet begun. It is only when users who already own luxury cars want to buy electric vehicles that Mercedes-Benz's electric models will truly enter a booming era.

Duan Jianjun also revealed that Mercedes-Benz will bring surprising heavyweight new energy vehicle models at the Beijing Auto Show next year.

Mercedes-Benz's advantage lies in its solid foundation in the era of fuel vehicles, which has formed a systematic competitive edge. It also has a series of technological accumulations that are gradually being implemented after a clear commercialization and mass production path.

This allows Mercedes-Benz to maintain a gradual pace of transformation, focusing on the present while looking to the future. For traditional car companies, how to maintain the base of fuel vehicles and the speed of transformation to new energy has always been a challenge. Mercedes-Benz has provided a solution and proven itself with good financial report data over the past two years. The road to the revolution of new energy is long and full of obstacles. In this marathon, it is still uncertain who will reach the finish line. Mercedes-Benz not only aims to reach the finish line but also hopes to become the pioneer of the new energy era. Perhaps, looking back half a century later, Vision One-Eleven will still be the dazzling "orange" at the car exhibition.