How the 1973 Mercedes-Benz ESF 22 prototype predicted the future

We just take characteristics like crumple zones and airbags for granted in 2023 — it would be alarming to obtain a new vehicle without them. Set your time machine to the 1970s, and the protection machines observed in cars was primitive at ideal. Mercedes-Benz is one particular of the corporations that participated in security-associated analysis systems through this ten years, and it truly is highlighting a prototype named ESF 22 that in quite a few methods predicted the future.

Unveiled at a conference held in 1973 in Kyoto, Japan, the ESF 22 was based mostly on the W116-technology S-Class released the former calendar year. It was the 3rd protection-relevant prototype that Mercedes-Benz presented to the community, and it picked up the place its predecessor still left off by inaugurating a raft of features. Although it is visibly similar to the S-Course, its front conclude is dominated by black, effects-absorbing plastic sections somewhat than adorned by stately-wanting vibrant trim. Mercedes-Benz wasn’t moving down-current market: it fitted a plastic grille and plastic headlight bezels in the name of pedestrian protection. Engineers also mounted the headlights deep into the bezels to steer clear of glass-linked injuries.

The driver faced a huge steering wheel with a padded hub cover and a padded dashboard, and each and every passenger could rely on a seatbelt to remain risk-free in the party of an accident. The ESF 22 also incorporated a lot of of the basic safety breakthroughs made for its predecessors, such as anti-lock brakes and headlight wipers. All informed, Mercedes-Benz claimed that its massive, experimental sedan gave occupants “a fantastic likelihood” of surviving a head-on affect versus a rigid object, like a wall, at 40 mph, which was a outstanding feat (primarily 50-additionally many years ago).

Mercedes-Benz’s ESF 22 in no way observed the light that awaits at the finish of a production line that was not the point. However, some of the functions produced for it and other ESF prototypes achieved output in the company’s later versions. Abs brakes appeared on the W116’s record of options in late 1978, and the W126-era S-Class (which changed the W116) grew to become the to start with Mercedes-Benz equipped with an airbag in December 1980. Quick-ahead to 2023, and just about every single motor vehicle marketed new in the United States functions an affect-absorbing front conclusion.

The custom of testing new technologies in what are primarily rolling laboratories ongoing immediately after the curtain fell on the ESF task. The 1981 Auto 2000 idea explored what a luxurious vehicle could appear like in the new millennium whilst previewing a sharper design and style language, Mercedes-Benz confirmed S-Course- and GLE-dependent ESF prototypes in 2009 and 2019, respectively, and the electrical EQXX prototype unveiled in 2021 showcases some of the engineering that will trickle down to the battery-driven automobiles that the organization will launch in the 2020s.

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