Mercedes-Benz says its Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile concept unveiled Monday in Frankfurt will influence its design language for years to come.
The concept’s interior will show up in the redesigned E-class sedan next year.
“It’s basically redefining a new level of modern luxury in the middle class, somewhere between S and C,” said Gorden Wagener, vice president of design for Daimler.
The exterior will inform the brand’s car designs in later years. Mercedes made extensive use of digital design tools to develop the concept in record time of just 10 months. That compares with typical development time of 18 months for a concept car.
On the outside, the vehicle morphs to a more aerodynamic shape at speeds about 50 mph (80 kph), something Mercedes-Benz is calling active aerodynamics. The transformation changes the vehicle’s drag coefficient from 0.25 to 0.19, which Mercedes says is a record for a four-door, four-seater car.
“The rear of the car comes out, you have wheels that come out to portray a flat surface, which optimizes the aerodynamics focus,” said Ola Kaellenius, Daimler board member in charge of Mercedes sales and marketing. “So you have efficiency and beauty and connectivity all bundled into one car.”
The concept’s exterior design cues will show up in Mercedes vehicles in the next few years, executives said.
But will the shape-shifting technology become reality or is that just auto show showmanship?
From a production standpoint, “it’s doable,” said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.
The aerodynamic features could help extend the range of a future electric vehicle, said Thomas Weber, Daimler board member in charge of group research and Mercedes car development. But he did note that the back-end extension would be harder to achieve because of vehicle package constraints.