IT COULD be the safest car ever built. The Mercedes-Benz ESF (experimental safety vehicle) 2009 bristles with radical technology designed to protect passengers in extreme circumstances.
‘‘Safety is a central element of the Mercedes-Benz brand,’’ Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars says. ‘‘In this respect we have been setting the pace in the market for almost 70 years.
‘‘The ESF 2009 shows we still have plenty of ideas and the absolute will to lead the automobile industry in this field.’’
The safety mule, the first Mercedes has built since 1974, started life as an S400 hybrid.
Then Benz’s free-thinking safety experts got to work and turned it into the ESF to showcase how far motorvehicle safety can progress.
Tucked into the one-off supersafe limo are new ideas such as an under-car airbag brake, inflatable metal side structures to improve side impact safety, seats that push the occupants away from the impact and seatbelts inside an airbag.
More than a dozen safety innovations were built into the ESF at the company’s test vehicle workshops in Sindelfingen.
‘‘With the ESF 2009, we have chosen to demonstrate the innovative strength of Daimler,’’ says Thomas Weber, Daimler executive board member responsible for corporate research and development at Mercedes-Benz Cars.
‘‘Anybody examining the ESF 2009 in detail will recognise that more safety and improved energy efficiency are not necessarily a contradiction in terms. We want to make progress in both fields with trailblazing ideas.’’