Research and development, environmental protection

Research and development is an important success factor. Research and development have always been given very high priority at Daimler. Our research activities help us to anticipate trends as well as customers’ desires and the requirements they place on future mobility, which are then consistently integrated into series products by our development engineers. Our goal is to provide our customers with exciting products and tailored solutions for needs-oriented, safe and sustainable mobility. We organize our technology portfolio and our core competencies to ensure that we achieve this goal. (See Innovation, Safety and the Environment)

Key factors for the market success of our vehicles are the expertise, creativity and motivation of our employees in research and development. At the end of the year 2012, 21,100 persons were employed in Daimler’s research and development departments around the world (end of 2011: 23,200). The decrease was primarily due to the deconsolidation of MBtech Group. (See Economy and markets) Of that total, 13,400 persons were employed at Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development (2011: 15,600), 5,600 at the Daimler Trucks division (2011: 5,500), 1,000 at the Mercedes-Benz Vans division (2011: 1,000) and 1,100 at Daimler Buses (2011: 1,100). More than 4,300 research and development personnel were employed outside Germany (2011: 4,400).

The largest sites in our research and development network are Sindelfingen and Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, in Germany. Our research and development locations in North America and Asia include Palo Alto, California and Portland, Oregon, as well as the research center for information and communication technology in Bangalore, India and the Global Hybrid Center in Kawasaki, Japan. And a new Daimler research and development center went into operation in Beijing during the year under review. Furthermore, we collaborate with various renowned research institutes worldwide and participate in international exchange programs for young scientists.

Effective involvement of the supplier industry. In order to achieve our ambitious goals, we collaborate intensively with the research and development departments of supplier companies. Particularly in view of rapid technological changes in the automotive industry and the need to bring new technologies to market maturity as quickly as possible, it is essential to coordinate our activities with supplier companies. But within the framework of joint research and development work, we ensure that core competencies in technologies important for the future of the automobile and for the uniqueness of our brands remain at the Group.

2,200 patents filed. Daimler newly registered a total of 2,200 patents in the year 2012 (2011: 2,175), most of which were in the areas of drive systems and safety. More than 1,000 patent applications related to the issue of emission-free mobility, in particular electric drive systems using power from batteries or fuel cells. In the coming years, we will further extend our technology and innovation leadership across all products and brands with the advantage of our industrial property rights.

€5.6 billion for research and development. We intend to continue playing an active part in shaping the technological transformation facing the automotive industry with pioneering innovations in the future. We therefore invested the large amount of €5.6 billion in research and development, the same as in the prior year. As in 2011 €1.5 billion of that amount was capitalized. Research and development expenditure also remained at a high level as a proportion of revenue, at a rate of 4.9% (2011: 5.3%). Based on our “Road to Emission-free Mobility” strategy, the main focus of our work was in the area of new, extremely fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly drive technologies in all automotive divisions. (See graphic 3.25) We worked on optimizing conventional drive technologies as well as on achieving further efficiency improvements through hybridization and with electric vehicles using fuel cells or batteries. In order to further enhance the efficiency of our vehicles, we are also improving other key automotive aspects - from energy management to lightweight construction. Another focus of our activities is on new safety technologies: In the context of our “Vision of Accident-free Driving,” we are pursuing the goal of avoiding accidents as far as possible and of alleviating the consequences to occupants and other road users of any accidents that might still occur.

Daimler AR2012 Emission free

The most important projects at Mercedes-Benz Cars were the additional models in the compact class and the new S-Class, the new E-Class and the successor models of the C-Class. In addition, we are continually working on new generations of engines and alternative drive systems. Total research and development expenditure at Mercedes-Benz Cars of €3.9 billion was once again higher than the high level of the prior year (2011: €3.7 billion). Daimler Trucks invested €1.2 billion in research and development projects (2011: €1.3 billion). The main areas there were the Arocs (a new Mercedes-Benz construction-site truck), the Antos (specially developed for heavy-duty distribution transport), new medium and heavy-duty engines, and successor generations of existing products. The focus of R&D expenditure at Mercedes-Benz Vans was on the successor models of the Vito and Viano and the new generation of the Sprinter. The Daimler Buses division concentrated its development activities on new products, the fulfillment of new emission standards and alternative drive systems. (See graphic 3.26 and table 3.27)

Daimler AR2012 Research and development expenditure


Research and development expenditure by division
  2012 2011 12/11
in millions of euros     % change
Daimler-Group 5,644 5,634 +0
thereof capitalized 1,465 1,460 +0
Mercedes-Benz Cars 3,863 3,733 +3
thereof capitalized 1,125 1,051 +7
Daimler Trucks 1,197 1,321 -9
thereof capitalized 180 251 -28
Mercedes-Benz Vans 371 358 +4
thereof capitalized 137 126 +9
Daimler Buses 222 225 -1
thereof capitalized 23 32 -28

Further reductions of our cars’ CO2 emissions. Thanks to our new and fuel-efficient engines and the particularly economical “BlueEFFICIENCY” models, we were able to reduce the average CO2 emissions of the cars we sell in the European Union to 140 grams per kilometer in 2012 (2011: 150 g/km). We thus achieved an above-average reduction in the CO2 emissions of our vehicle fleet once again in 2012, simultaneously undercutting the EU targets for this year. Our new models consume up to 30% less fuel than their predecessor models. The E 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Edition, which has been available since March 2012, is one of the most economical cars in its segment. Thanks to various efficiency-enhancing features such as an aerodynamics package, electric power-assisted steering (EPS), a longer rear-axle ratio and tires with low roll resistance, this E-Class model emits only 119 g CO2/km – ten grams or almost 8% less than before. That represents 4.5 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers. With the record figures of 4.1 liters of diesel per 100 km and 107 g CO2/km, in June 2012 we launched the new E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID as the world’s most fuel-efficient large sedan. The most fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz of all time is the A 180 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Edition, which we have been shipping to customers since March 2013. It uses only 3.6 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers and has CO2 emissions of just 92 g/km. Meanwhile, more than 57% of our cars sold in Europe have CO2 emissions of less than 140 g/km. We will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions even further in the future with innovative technologies for locally emission-free mobility. Our goal is to reduce the average CO2 emissions of our new car fleet in the European Union to 125 grams per kilometer by 2016. In recent years, we have continuously reduced the emission of pollutants by our cars: by more than 80% since 1995 and by approximately 40% in the past five years. Even bigger reductions are achieved by our cars with BlueTEC diesel engines. We are global leaders for diesel engines with the BLUETEC technology. Our BLUETEC automobiles fulfill the strictest emission standards and are the cleanest diesel cars in the world. (See Innovation, Safety and the Environment)

Commercial vehicles with low fuel consumption and emissions. We have also continuously reduced the emissions of CO2 and harmful substances by our commercial vehicles in recent years. We managed this, in combination with the introduction of the BLUETEC technology, with new and more efficient engines, needs-oriented axle ratios and improvements to tires and aerodynamics. With our new heavy-duty truck engines, we are the first manufacturer to fulfill the Euro VI emission standards that will be take effect in 2014. At the same time, those engines’ fuel consumption is lower than for the predecessor models: up to 7% better with Euro V and up to 4% better with Euro VI, despite exhaust-gas after-treatment. This makes our new Actros and Antos model series the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicles in their class. In the North American market, we will set new standards for fuel consumption as of the year 2013 with the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution heavy truck: The new truck will consume up to 7% less fuel than the current model. This was measured and independently confirmed in a one-week test drive across the United States. Our new buses also deliver impressive fuel consumption figures. In the Record Run Buses 2012, the new Mercedes-Benz Citaro city bus and the new Setra ComfortClass 500 coach with Euro VI proved that buses are also able to fulfill the Euro VI emission limits while reducing fuel consumption by more than 8%. (See Innovation, Safety and the Environment)

In particular with trucks and vans for local deliveries and with buses, fuel consumption can be significantly reduced also with the application of hybrid drive technology. The new Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid consumes approximately 25% less fuel than a comparable diesel truck and the Freightliner M2e Hybrid uses up to 30% less fuel than the conventional diesel-engined M2 106. No other manufacturer of commercial vehicles has more experience, testing and technology ready for series production in the field of alternative drive systems and electric mobility – from vans to trucks to buses. Worldwide, more than 880,000 environmentally friendly commercial vehicles from Daimler with SCR technology and another 18,000 with alternative drive technology are on the road.

For our total fleet in Europe, we want to reduce our trucks’ fuel consumption by an average of 20% per ton per kilometer during the period of 2005 through 2020. To achieve this goal, we continue to work hard on technological innovations.

€2.8 billion for environmental protection. Once again in the year 2012, we intensively pursued the goal of preserving resources and reducing all relevant emissions. We take the effects of all our processes into consideration – from vehicle development to production and to recycling and environmentally friendly disposal. Last year, we increased our spending on environmental protection by 9% to €2.8 billion.

Far-reaching recyclability of end-of-life vehicles. In order to increase the environmental compatibility of our vehicles, we reduce their emissions and use of resources over their entire lifecycles. We therefore consider the needs of recycling already in the stages of design and development. All Mercedes-Benz models are 85% material recyclable and 95% recoverable – so we already fulfill the stipulations of the EU regulations that come into force in 2015.

Proven elements of our recycling concept include the resale of tested and certified used parts, the reconditioning of so-called exchange parts, and the workshop disposal system, MeRSy Recycling Management.

Extensive activities for environmental protection in production. With the help of environmentally friendly production methods, we have succeeded in recent years in reducing our plants’ energy consumption, CO2 emissions, production-related solvent emissions and noise pollution. For example, from 2007 to 2012, energy consumption increased at a much lower rate than the growth in production: by just 2.7% to €10.9 million megawatt hours. During the same period, total CO2 emissions decreased by 12,6% to 3.2 million tons due to the changeover to energy sources with lower CO2. With the energy-saving projects now running, we have been at least partially able to compensate for the additional energy consumption resulting from the growth in production and the start-up of the two new plants in India and Hungary. Compared with the prior year, energy consumption therefore rose only slightly by 6% and CO2 emissions increased by only 0.3%. With resource-conserving technologies such as circulation systems, we reduce water consumption between 2007 and 2012 by more than 4%. Compared with the prior year, water consumption was unchanged despite the increased production.

In the area of waste management, our guiding principle is that avoidance and recycling are better than disposal. The recycling and reuse of raw materials and manufacturing supplies has therefore been standard practice in our plants for many years. In order to avoid waste right from the start, we apply innovative technical methods and an environmentally friendly production planning system. Most of the waste that we cannot avoid is reused; the average recycling ratio of waste from our plants is above 92%. In some plants, nearly 100% of all waste is recycled, so sending waste to landfills is almost completely avoided.

We make use of comprehensive environmental management systems in our efforts to make further progress in the field of environmental protection. More than 98% of our employees worldwide work in plants whose environmental management systems have been certified according to ISO 14001 or EMAS environmental standards.

The figures stated for the year 2012 are based on extrapolations; the exact figures will be released with the publication of the new Sustainability Report in April 2013.