Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA
Automakers all over the world are looking at any and every way to potentially improve efficiency. Whether it's hybrid power, fully electric or diesel, a car's powerplant is the first place engineers look to cut down on fuel use. But that's not the only way car companies can improve their overall efficiency.
Aerodynamics and rolling resistance also play large parts in a car's overall fuel efficiency. Mercedes is clearly investigating new ways to cheat the wind with its IAA Concept, which recently debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Not only is the Concept IAA – which appropriately enough stands for Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile – a supremely slippery design in standard form, it's also capable of shape-shifting to make itself even more aero-friendly.
"Fascinating and technically sophisticated cars form the core of Mercedes-Benz. The 'Concept IAA' applies intelligent innovations to resolve the conflicting aims of functionality and aesthetics and shows that we still have plenty of ideas on how to achieve further improvements in efficiency," says Prof. Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
Check out our image gallery to take a look at the features that make the Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA unique.
Mercedes Concept IAA: Rear View
A plug-in gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain sits under the Concept IAA's shapely bodywork. This combination provides 279 horsepower and is enough to propel this machine to a top speed of 155 miles per hour.
At the touch of a button, or automatically on reaching a speed of 80 km/h, the Mercedes-Benz "Concept IAA" (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile) performs a fascinating transformation in which the captivatingly beautiful four-door coupé turns into an aerodynamics world champion: eight segments extend at the rear, increasing its length by up to 390 millimeters; front flaps in the front bumper extend by 25 mm to the front and 20 mm to the rear, improving the air flow around the front end and the front wheel arches; the Active Rims alter their cupping from 55 mm to zero; and the louvre in the front bumper moves 60 mm to the rear, improving the underbody air flow.
In its most aerodynamic form, the Concept IAA can travel as far as 41 miles in pure electric mode, thanks in part to its stunningly low drag coefficent of just 0.19.
Mercedes Concept IAA: OverheadWith its dynamic basic shape ("drop shape"), elegantly purist overall design and aerodynamic innovations, the four-door "Concept IAA" Coupé Saloon is a symbiosis of design and aerodynamics. The vehicle interprets classic sports car proportions in a modern vein: the long bonnet flows aerodynamically into the compact, set-back greenhouse, whose roof slopes down elegantly towards the rear, ending in an airflow break-away edge.
The vehicle's elegant side view combines a purist, long basic volume with highly pronounced wheel arches. The sporty, minimalist front of the show car boasts a striking "shark nose" profile. Like the front, the show car's rear end also presents a clear-cut and purist appearance. As on the front grille, horizontal louvres lend structure to the shape of the rear end. An illuminated ring running around the rear end adds the finishing touch to the high-tech appearance.
"The 'Concept IAA' continues our series of visionary concept cars," explains Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Daimler AG. "The symbiosis of alluring forms showcasing intelligent aerodynamics is an expression of our unique Mercedes-Benz design philosophy."
Mercedes Concept IAA: Wind TunnelThe "Concept IAA" exemplifies the fundamental technological changes which are taking place in the automobile industry. The primary driving force behind this process of change is digitisation – commonly referred to in a business context as "Industry 4.0". For Mercedes-Benz, a continuous digital process chain from research and development through production to marketing and sales, logistics and the service area is already becoming reality.
The design and aerodynamic shaping of the "Concept IAA" would not have been possible without the systematic digital networking of different specialist departments. The designers have employed the latest algorithmic design methods to handle the complex geometric design. The individually adapted software enables dynamic design in three-dimensional space. This dynamic modelling makes it possible to display and model different states simultaneously. The resultant highly complex geometries were turned into reality with the aid of innovative production technologies (rapid prototyping).
The world-beating aerodynamics were developed in parallel with the aid of numeric flow simulation. In around one million CPU hours, the aerodynamics experts from Mercedes-Benz simulated the flow characteristics, calculating some 300 variants. This roughly corresponds to the scope of work involved in developing a production model.
The "Concept IAA" also offers a look into the future in areas which are not apparent at first glance. The study features Car-to-X technology, for example, which enables the study to communicate with other vehicles or other sources of information. This represents a major advance in helping to avoid accidents, as obstacles or events which are not visible to the vehicle itself can be detected - the "Concept IAA" is able to look around the corner, as it were. With this and its interior and operating concept, the "Concept IAA" also offers a foretaste of the business saloon of the near future.
Mercedes Concept IAA: InteriorThe interior of the "Concept IAA" combines stylish sportiness with modern luxury. The interior continues the design line of the S-Class and S-Class Coupé while providing an idea of what the interior of a business saloon might look like in the near future. The choice of colours and materials conjures up extrovert contrasts between anthracite and white as well as between aluminium and cut glass. Elegantly curved forms, flowing lines, carefully chosen high-quality materials and the touch-based operating philosophy provide for a high level of functionality.
The two-spoke steering wheel is a progressive further development of the Mercedes-Benz steering wheel philosophy. The open structure of its horizontal spokes is highly intricate in design, as a manifestation of intelligent and elegant lightweight construction. The steering wheel also incorporates touch-based operating functions, offering great functionality in the most compact dimensions as a study in perfect ergonomics: OFN (Optical Finger Navigation) buttons, embedded in the clusters in a similar hovering manner as the touchpad in the centre console, enable the driver to scroll through the instrument cluster menus. The OFN button on the left controls the left-hand display, while the button on the right controls the right-hand display. In this way, the "hands on the wheel, eyes on the road" operating philosophy which has been applied by Mercedes-Benz for many years now is implemented in a manner which is at once brilliantly simple and uncompromising.