We get characteristics like crumple zones and airbags for granted in 2023 — it would be alarming to purchase a new car without the need of them. Established your time device to the 1970s, and the protection machines found in cars was primitive at most effective. Mercedes-Benz is 1 of the corporations that participated in safety-linked investigation programs for the duration of this decade, and it’s highlighting a prototype named ESF 22 that in a lot of methods predicted the potential.
Unveiled at a conference held in 1973 in Kyoto, Japan, the ESF 22 was primarily based on the W116-generation S-Course released the preceding year. It was the third protection-similar prototype that Mercedes-Benz presented to the public, and it picked up exactly where its predecessor still left off by inaugurating a raft of functions. Whilst it truly is visibly relevant to the S-Class, its front conclusion is dominated by black, effect-absorbing plastic components relatively than adorned by stately-searching vibrant trim. Mercedes-Benz was not transferring down-current market: it fitted a plastic grille and plastic headlight bezels in the name of pedestrian safety. Engineers also mounted the headlights deep into the bezels to stay clear of glass-connected injuries.
The driver confronted a huge steering wheel with a padded hub cover and a padded dashboard, and just about every passenger could rely on a seatbelt to continue to be risk-free in the party of an accident. The ESF 22 also incorporated quite a few of the protection improvements created for its predecessors, this sort of as anti-lock brakes and headlight wipers. All told, Mercedes-Benz claimed that its major, experimental sedan gave occupants “a superior prospect” of surviving a head-on impact from a rigid item, like a wall, at 40 mph, which was a remarkable feat (specially 50-in addition several years back).
Mercedes-Benz’s ESF 22 never noticed the gentle that awaits at the finish of a generation line that wasn’t the point. Nevertheless, some of the capabilities made for it and other ESF prototypes reached creation in the company’s later designs. Ab muscles brakes appeared on the W116’s list of options in late 1978, and the W126-era S-Course (which changed the W116) grew to become the initial Mercedes-Benz outfitted with an airbag in December 1980. Quickly-ahead to 2023, and each single car offered new in the United States attributes an impression-absorbing front end.
The custom of screening new technologies in what are basically rolling laboratories continued right after the curtain fell on the ESF challenge. The 1981 Auto 2000 principle explored what a luxury vehicle could glimpse like in the new millennium even though previewing a sharper layout language, Mercedes-Benz confirmed S-Class- and GLE-based mostly ESF prototypes in 2009 and 2019, respectively, and the electric powered EQXX prototype unveiled in 2021 showcases some of the engineering that will trickle down to the battery-run automobiles that the company will launch in the 2020s.