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Daimler Greater China opened its new 865-million RMB Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Center in China and extended its local R%D network in Beijing. A new Advanced Design Studio is a centerpiece of the R&D facility and represents the company’s new design hub in Asia. At the official opening, Gorden Wagener, Head of Design Daimler AG, presented the Mercedes-Benz G-Code plug-in hybrid crossover show car.

The G-Code is powered by two individually controlled drive cores: a compact, turbocharged hydrogen-fueled combustion engine which solely drives the front wheels, and an electric motor which drives the rear axle and transmits its power selectively to the two wheels via a dual multi-disc clutch. Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz emphasized that the G-Code, like the previously introduced Ener-G-Force and GT 6 vehicle studies, “makes absolutely no claim to be implemented within foreseeable periods.”

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Mercedes-Benz G-Code. Click to enlarge.

In addition to regeneration and plug-in battery technology, the “multi-voltaic silver” paint finish acts like a giant solar cell with excellent efficiency. It is also charged electrostatically by the relative wind or by the natural wind when the vehicle is stationary. These electrical charges are tapped and likewise used for the on-board methane and hydrogen synthesis. (Details on the storage/synthesis technology is scant at this point.) Finally, the special “power on the move” suspension aids in the generation of electricity. Springs and dampers are hydraulic and networked via a central control unit. The rebound of the springs and dampers and thus the flow of hydraulic fluid drives a compact current generator.

Depending on the selected mode, the G-Code can operate as a front-wheel drive vehicle powered solely by the combustion engine, as an all-electric rear-wheel drive vehicle or fully variable in all-wheel drive mode. A completely newly configured system controls this all-wheel drive system, combining the two power sources as demanded by the current driving situation. The powertrain control acts as a “digital prop shaft” between front and rear axle.

Economy is not the only determinant of drive mode; driving dynamics parameters are also incorporated to enhance active safety or boost longitudinal and lateral dynamics in HYBRID sport mode, for example. At the same time, the control logic always ensures steady and, for the driver, predictable handling characteristics independent of the respective front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive mode.

The HYBRID select driving dynamics system offers three specific modes:

  • In HYBRID eDrive mode the G-Code is set up for maximum all-electric operation. The control strategies of this mode focus on maximum energy efficiency and maximum drive system comfort.

  • When the driver activates HYBRID eco mode, the focus is on maximum drive system comfort in addition to maximum hybrid efficiency. The digital sound modulation compensates acoustically for the alternating or simultaneous use of the electric motor and the combustion engine, and generates a subdued, pleasant soundscape in the interior.

  • In HYBRID sport mode, the occupants experience the G-Code as a driving machine on the level of a compact sports car. For maximum longitudinal and lateral dynamics the electric motor is used as a booster during acceleration. For spirited driving on twisty roads, torque vectoring on the electrically driven rear axle significantly increases agility. The digital sound modulation also lets the occupants experience the soundscape of a powerful sports car equipped with a flap exhaust system.

The 2+2-seater SUC measures about 4.10 meters in length and has counter-opening doors. In place of a conventional louvered grille, the central trademark star and the two chrome louvres in the radiator are surrounded by a continuous display. The engine is cooled by means of innovative air deflection via apertures in the side and at the bottom of the front.

Compact dimensions, extensive assistance and camera systems as well as the variable plug-in hybrid drive system with long electric operating range make the SUC suited for traffic in Asia’s mega-cities, Mercedes-Benz suggested.

The air conditioning system boosts the wellness program by cleaning the incoming air naturally by means of photosynthetic emissions scrubbing before ionizing it to ensure an interior atmosphere free of allergens and particulate matter. The oxygen produced during the hydrogen synthesis as part of the drive management system is routed to the interior as needed, and provides an additional refreshing effect for the occupants. As a result, even urban stop-and-go traffic in congested Asian metropolitan areas sheds its unpleasant aspect.

New Beijing R&D Center. In future around 500 engineers and designers will be working at the new Mercedes-Benz R&D facility. In total, Daimler has invested about 865 million RMB (€112-million, US$140-million) has being invested into Beijing-based research and development facilities for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars recently, with about 105 million RMB (€13.5 million, US$170 million) into this new site alone.

For the automotive industry, China has become the most important market worldwide. The country is truly in fast forward mode—we recognize this importance and reflect it in our local R&D activities, which we are clearly pushing forward to the next level. As a key element for our sustainable growth strategy in China, our new R&D Center will help us to fully tap our potential here and give our Chinese customers’ voice even more weight in our global network and future product development.

—Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for China

Daimler first put China on the map of its worldwide Research & Development network in 2006, with the localization of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Since then, the scope of work and headcount of its local R&D teams has been continuously expanded.

In 2009, Mercedes-Benz was the first German premium car manufacturer to open an Advanced Design Studio in Beijing. To even better cater to the needs of Chinese customers, units for ‘Localization & Development’, ‘Telematics & Infotainment’ and, most recently, ‘Trends & Innovation’ were subsequently established.

  • The teams for Localization & Development and Powertrain & Testing adapt vehicles and engines to Chinese needs, take care of testing, and establish cooperation with local suppliers.

  • A unit for Safety, Comfort, Regulatory Affairs and IP makes sure the vehicles comply with all Chinese rules, regulations and standards. In addition, it does own research on topics like in-car air quality or allergy prevention and builds up ties with universities and other research organizations.

    One example is the collaboration with Tsinghua University, one of China’s leading universities, on the development of sustainable transport solutions, including autonomous driving. With these collaborations, Mercedes-Benz engineering teams get also access to a vast Chinese talent pool.

  • The Telematics and Infotainment team focuses on developing telematics and infotainment systems with Chinese requirements, and ensure quality for the systems in the lab and on the road. One task of the unit is to ensure customers can enter handwritten Chinese characters into the multimedia system of their Mercedes-Benz vehicles; another one is to integrate China-specific Apps and internet services into the cars. Mercedes-Benz is the 1st automotive OEM that has teamed up with Baidu, the Chinese Google equivalent, to bring “Streetview” features into its Chinese vehicles.

  • The Trends, Research and Innovation department analyzes developments in Chinese society and their effects on future mobility needs.The team gets its inspiration by various research and analysis methodologies—and sometimes by simply looking at Chinese customers cars’.

Today, international teams of more than 350 experts work for Mercedes-Benz R&D China, covering six different departments. Currently, around 80% of the workforce is Chinese; the remaining team includes specialists from about a dozen different countries. By the end of 2015, the automaker plans to increase the headcount to up to 500. Mercedes-Benz R&D China benefits from a close link to Daimler’s strong local production and supplier base as well as its Sino-German joint venture partner R&D sites for vans and the electric vehicles.

Daimler Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development employs a workforce of 14,600 at 21 facilities in 10 countries worldwide, with a total R&D investment of €11 billion (US$14 billion) in 2012/2013. The company’s global R&D headquarters is located at Sindelfingen and Untertürheim near Stuttgart.

Besides the new facility in Beijing, Daimler’s global R&D network includes two more international Competence Centers: specialists in Sunnyvale, California focus on innovations for the “digital drivestyle” and Bangalore in India is home to the Competence Center for digital product development and IT.


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