Benz, BMW, and a century of tech one-upmanship
Two carmakers have been trying to out-invent each other for more than a century 1 A lederhosen-clad leg up 2 Opening it up on the autobahn 3 Pitiless Arsch-whupping 4 Hasselhoff concert
In March, BMW marked its centennial—and a century of technological rivalry with Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz. In newspaper ads, Benz, which can lay claim to having invented the car in 1886, congratu-mocked its Bavarian archenemy: “Thanks for 100 years of competition. The 30 years before that were a little dull.” That’s like M-B doing doughnuts on BMW’s driveway. Here, a timeline of the two companies trading pole position for automotive supremacy.
Scorecard or is 1 point 1886
Karl Benz creates the Patent-Motorwagen, widely accepted to be the first automobile.
Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach retrofit a stagecoach with a gasoline engine.
Daimler receives a patent for the honeycomb radiator, still the basis for watercooled engines.
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) builds the Mercedes 35 PS, a car named for a customer’s daughter.
BMW’s R37 and R39 motorcycles fit production engines with cylinder heads made of lighter, coolerrunning aluminum.
Banned from building aircraft or their engines by the Treaty of Versailles, BMW makes the R32, its first motorcycle.
A young DMG employee, Ferdinand Porsche, helps build the first supercharger.
BMW’s predecessor, aircraft maker Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW), is founded.
BMW unveils the Hydrogen 7, a version of the company’s 7 Series sedan featuring an engine that can run on gasoline or compressed hydrogen.
BMW displays a concept electric car, the i3, at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
Mssrs. Daimler and Benz merge their companies: MercedesBenz is born.
BMW buys RollsRoyce.
Daimler starts selling the Smart Fortwo, a two-seat microcar for city driving.
If 12 cylinders is cool, then … Mercedes considers packing 24 into its Maybach limo, but ultimately settles for a 12-cylinder model.
Committed to the same rotarycontroller strategy that bedeviled BMW’s iDrive, Mercedes adds a similar system to its flagship S-Class. It’s also widely panned.
Mercedes-Benz’s advanced research vehicle, the F 015, presents a vision of a driverless future with swiveling conferencestyle seats.