Four things that Mercedes has more or less invented

It's a long list, but I've decided to talk about these four

Daimler and Mercedes-Benz have been pioneering several automotive features that we've been using for ages. Most of them we take for granted, and while who invented what is a question that always opens up a debate, the German manufacturer can be directly credited for making some of these things possible and usable in the real world today.

I received an email regarding illumination-related inventions by Mercedes earlier today and that's why I decided to dig a bit deeper and found a million things we should talk about. But we can't really do that, can we? So what I thought I'd do is put together a list of four things that Mercedes has either invented or pioneered.

The car

Mercedes fundamentally invented the automobile itself. In 1885, Carl Benz began working on the Patent-Motorwagen, the world's first vehicle designed to be powered by an internal combustion engine. Benz patented the vehicle a year later, in 1886, and introduced the Motorwagen to the public on July 3 in Mannheim, Germany. About 25 units were built between 1886 and 1893, and even though the Motorwagen looked nothing like a modern car and was very different in terms of layout, it was in fact the first car in history.


An early version of the ABS, anti-lock braking system, was first designed by Gabriel Voisin, a French aviation and automotive pioneer, in the early 1920s. Several different and more complex versions of the ABS were later adopted in the 1950s by Dunlop, Royal Enfield and even on the Concorde aircraft.

Then, in the early 1970s, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Cadillac began using (more or less) modern versions of an ABS on some of their cars and prototypes and then, in 1978, the Mercedes-Benz W116 became the first production car to use ABS. Furthermore, the ABS that Mercedes used wasn't exactly the same type of system that everybody else had been using, because it was a more comprehensive and complicated four-wheel multi-channel ABS developed with Bosch.

The Airbag

The airbag traces its roots to the late 1910s when two British dentists (that's odd) filed a patent for an "air-filled bladder" system. Several different versions of said system were then used in the following years in a variety of different ways. In the early 1970s, GM began offering airbags and/or systems that could be compared to airbags in some of their models but in 1977, they gave up mostly because people didn't really car. These systems were mostly used as a substitute to seat belts, not as an auxiliary system.

Then, in 1981, Mercedes-Benz introduced the airbag as an option for its S-Class W126 in West Germany. The system was very similar to the one we're using today. It automatically tensioned the seat belts on impact and deployed the airbag more or less instantly.

The mirror-mounted turn signal

The history of lighting and illumination on cars is just as old as the history of the car itself. Even the Ford Model T used carbide lamps for headlamps and everyone else at the time was already using dynamos. The same thing could be said for mirrors. However, nobody seriously considered putting illumination on wing mirrors until the 1990s.

In 1998, Mercedes-Benz introduced the side turn signal repeaters, or mirror-mounted turn signal, integrated into wing mirrors in the W210 E-Class.

Is there anything you'd add to the list? Let me know in the comments

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Comments (48)

  • Instinctively thought of gullwing doors, any chance it's something that could be added to the list? I frankly hope no because I'm curious to see what came before the 300 SL..

      9 months ago
    • aaaah it's a long, long list so yes, that's possible

        9 months ago
    • As I've heard, the 300SL was the first with gullwing doors, and it was the only way to have doors given the shape of the car, it was not intencional. Also to the list from the 300SL you can add direct fuel injection, at least first production car...

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        9 months ago
  • Mercedes Benz invented a car. Full stop. Excellent! Ah that 111 on a photo... I've learned to drive on such a car...

      9 months ago
  • The Jensen FF was the first production car´┐╝ (okay...not exactly high volume production) to get ABS in 1966. It used the mechanical Dunlop Maxaret system that was developed for aircraft, but it had it way before M-B.

      9 months ago
    • Yup. I think they claim / are credited simply because they did it on a mass production car and everyone else more or less followed what they did in the immediate future

        9 months ago
  • It's a super long list indeed. Mercedes was the first to put cars with crumple zones or "safety cells" into production.

      8 months ago
  • Other than the ICE, probably the biggest invention, i believe another was to have brakes on all 4 wheels

      9 months ago