Benz, BMW, and a century of tech one-upmanship
Two carmakers have been trying to out-invent each other for more than a century
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 he two companies trading po pole position for automotive supremacy. Scorecard or is 1 point 1 A lederhosen-clad leg up 2 Opening it up on the autobahn ahn 3 Pitiless Arsch- whupping 4 Hasselhoff concert
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.
DaimlerD receives a patent for the ho honeycomb radiator, still till the basis for waterwate cooled engines.
Daimler-motor enGesellschaft (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.
That works out to Mercedes-benz 27, BMW 24— a close race, particularly since Benz had a 30-year head start.
After six years of motorcycles, BMW begins making the 3/15, its first production car, based on Britain’s Austin 7.
At the Tokyo Auto Show, Mercedes unveils a concept limo called the Maybach, meant to competepete withth Rolls-royce. oyce.
Tapping its motorcycle heritage, BMW starts selling the C1, a partiallya ta y enclosed scooteroter for city driving. ng.
Mercedes-benzMercedes- Benz produces the world’s first sevenspeed automatic transmission.
BMW shows off its concept Vision Next 100, offering a glimpse of controls based on motion sensors and Iron Manesque displays.
BMW, however, can comfort itself with the No. 1 ranking in luxury car sales, which it took from Benz in 2005.
DitchingD less lessresponsiveres solid axles,axles the MercedesBenzB 170 is the firstfi s car with fourwheel independent suspension.
Sensing a market shift toward SUVS, Mercedes starts selling the M-class. BMW bringsb in one out two yearsy later.
TheTh world’s first voice-recognitionvoi system appears in the Mercedes-benz S-class.
BMW unveilsun idrive, an onboardonbo computer systemsyste that uses a rotaryrota controller, in its flagship 7 Series. It’s widelyw panned.
TheTh Bmw-owned Mini brand shows its new small car, the Mini Hatch/hardtop, at the Detroit Auto Show. The car becomes a huge sales success.
BMW releases its first fully original car design, the BMW AM1. (Although the body is made by DaimlerBenz.)
The world’s first diesel car, the Mercedes-benz 260D, D, hits the road.
Electronic Stability Program—an anti-skid technology that’s now mandated on all vehicles by U.S. law—first appears on a Mercedes-benz S-class.
Just to see if it can, BMW tests a 16-cylinder engine in the 767 Goldfish. The car is never approved for production.
BMW stuffs a mammoth 12-cylinder engine into its 7 Series sedan. Three years later, Mercedes does the same.
It’s more famous for its gull-wing doors, but the Mercedes-benz 300SL is the first production car to have fuel injection.
To compete with the 300SL, BMW releases the 507. While prized today, the car is a market failure and moves BMW toward bankruptcy. Three years later, the company nearly sells itself to MercedesBenz.
At the Frankfurt Auto Show, Mercedes unveils its all-wheeldrive system, 4Matic. BMW does one better, selling an all-wheel drive version of its 3 Series sedan, the 325ix.325
WhileWhi a 1-year-old Elon MuskM is grabbing his toes,to BMW brings its all-electric conceptc car, the 1602e, to the MunichMu Olympics.
BMW releases the 2002 Turbo, one of the first cars to feature a turbocharged engine.
MercedesBenz offers an electronic antilock brake system on its S-class sedan, beating BMW to market.
Mercedes-benz’s 190E is the first production car to have a multilink rear suspension.