Designed around the future luxuries of space, time, and privacy, the Mercedes-Benz F 015 “Luxury in Motion” concept car had its world premiere Monday night at the 2015 International CES.
“The idea is about designing the entire car around the advantages of autonomous driving, while making use of the added room you have in an electric car without the engine and transmission,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Providing the maximum possible space for the passengers was achieved with a large wheelbase of 3610 mm (142 in) and short overhangs. Length, width, and height are deemed “unusual proportions” by Mercedes-Benz with 5220, 2018, and 1524 mm (205.5, 79.4, and 60.0 in).
“We were able to create the monolithic appearance of the exterior—as if hewn from a single piece—in particular through doing without conventional windshield and window design,” said Gorden Wagener, Vice President Design, Daimler AG. “The flush-fitting side windows have an almost mirror-like appearance thanks to their extremely finely patterned surface. As they are close in color to the cool, technical appearance of the alubeam paint finish of the vehicle body, the transition from the windows to the bodywork is almost imperceptible. In addition, there are neither exterior mirrors nor visible A-, B-, or C-pillars to interfere with the overall impression of a sensual, object-like sculpture.”
The interior features a variable seating system, with four rotating lounge chairs that allow a face-to-face seat configuration. Vehicle windows can be used as screens, with six display screens integrated into the instrument panel and the rear and side panels. Passengers can interact with the vehicle through gestures, eye-tracking, or by touching the screens. A free-floating control unit enables any of the four passengers to take control of the vehicle.
To ease ingress and egress, the electrically powered seats swing outwards by 30° as soon as the doors are opened. With rear-hinged saloon doors, the front and rear doors can be opened and closed independently of one another.
“In the interior we focused on comfort, an extraordinary sense of space, and the luxurious lounge character,” Wagener said. “The displays allowing nonstop, all-round information and interaction link the analog and digital worlds together.”
The high-resolution screens in the side windows can be used to display personal information for each passenger, including Web browsing, contacts, email, and video conferencing.
The B-pillar has been eliminated thanks to a specially structured body. A sturdy interconnected system with mechanical locking elements ensures safety standards are met. The resulting composite load path allows a high amount of energy to be absorbed in a frontal or side impact with minimal intrusion into the passenger compartment.
New materials and structures were used to develop the Smart Body Structure of the F 015. With the strategic use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), aluminum, and high-strength steels, the bodyshell was able to achieve a 40% weight reduction, compared with today's production vehicles.
Steel side members have been replaced in favor of plate-shaped multi-chamber sections made from CFRP composite. CFRP is also used for the pressurized hydrogen tank system's cylinders and mounting system.
Large LED light modules are positioned at the front and rear, which provide a range of different lighting functions. Communicating with the outside world by means of the LED fields, the lights show if the vehicle is being driven autonomously (blue) or is controlled manually (white). Road safety is also increased via a unique pedestrian communication system.
“Should a pedestrian wish to cross the road, for instance, the F 015 halts and scans its surroundings to check whether it is safe to do so,” said Prof. Dr. Herbert Kohler, Head of Corporate Research & Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer for Daimler AG. “If it is, the car uses a high-precision laser system to project a virtual crosswalk onto the road surface and additionally lets the pedestrian know it is clear to cross with an audible ‘Please go ahead’ prompt.”
The F 015 was designed to allow the integration of an electric drive system with a fuel cell. The electric hybrid system has a total range of 1100 km (684 mi), including around 200 km (124 mi) of battery-powered driving and around 900 km (559 mi) on the electricity from the fuel cell.
The fuel cell stack delivers the traction current for two electric motors, each with an output of 100 kW. The electrical drive system generates a total peak power output of 200 kW (272 hp) and maximum torque of 200 N·m (148 lb·ft) per motor is available instantly. The F 015 is said to go from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 6.7 s with a governed top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph).