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. macy.
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 water-wate cooled 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, cooler-running 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: Mercedes-Benz is born.
BMW buys Rolls-Royce.
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 rotary-controller 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 conference-style seats.
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.
DitchingD less less-responsiveres solid axles,axles the Mercedes-BenzB 170 is the first fiscar 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 Daimler-Benz.)
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 Mercedes-Benz.
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.
Mercedes-Benz 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.