Today, international teams of more than 350 experts work for Mercedes-Benz R&D China, covering six different departments. Currently, around 80 percent of the workforce is Chinese; the remaining team includes specialists from about a dozen different countries. By the end of 2015, the automaker plans to increase the headcount to up to 500. Mercedes-Benz R&D China benefits from a close link to Daimler’s strong local production and supplier base as well as its Sino-German joint venture partner R&D sites for vans and the electric vehicles.
Focus on the needs of the Chinese market
Apart from Advanced Design, there are five departments working for Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China in Beijing. The teams for Localization & Development and Powertrain & Testing adapt vehicles and engines to Chinese needs, take care of testing, and establish cooperation with local suppliers.
A unit for Safety, Comfort, Regulatory Affairs and IP makes sure the vehicles comply with all Chinese rules, regulations and standards. In addition, it does own research on topics like in-car air quality or allergy prevention and builds up ties with universities and other research organizations. One example is the collaboration with Tsinghua University, one of China’s leading universities, on the development of sustainable transport solutions, including autonomous driving. With these collaborations, Mercedes-Benz engineering teams get also access to a vast Chinese talent pool.
The Telematics and Infotainment team focuses on developing telematics and infotainment systems with Chinese requirements, and ensure quality for the systems in the lab and on the road. One task of the unit is to ensure customers can enter handwritten Chinese characters into the multimedia system of their Mercedes-Benz vehicles; another one is to integrate China-specific Apps and internet services into the cars. Mercedes-Benz is the 1st automotive OEM that has teamed up with Baidu, the Chinese Google equivalent, to bring “Streetview” features into its Chinese vehicles.
The Trends, Research and Innovation department analyzes developments in Chinese society and their effects on future mobility needs. The mission is clear: On one hand, go deep into the daily lives of Chinese customers and translate their daily habits into clever product solutions and on the other, monitor trends early and react on these with the right future product concepts. The team gets its inspiration by various research and analysis methodologies - and sometimes by simply looking at Chinese customer’s cars.
State-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio
The all-new Advanced Design Studio is a centerpiece of the R&D facility and represents the company’s new design hub in Asia. It is dedicated to offering Chinese customers an even more enjoyable Mercedes-Benz experience by putting new functions like ‘Colour & Trim’ and ‘User Interface Experience’ design on the company’s local design map. Fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology, it covers the widest fields of activities amongst Mercedes-Benz’s passenger car design studios outside of Germany: All necessary steps of car design can be done here – from first sketches to 1:1 clay models.
As a seismograph for design, cultural and mobility trends and as an integral part of Daimler’s global design network, the studio will generate creative inspirations from China, and incorporate these into Mercedes-Benz’ global design philosophy. A first glimpse of this interaction was given at the official opening when Gorden Wagener, Head of Design Daimler AG, presented the Mercedes-Benz G-Code, a sporty crossover show car, inspired by the lifestyles and digital cultures of contemporary Chinese society.
Global research and development network
Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development employs a workforce of 14,600 at 21 facilities in 10 countries worldwide, with a total R&D investment of 11 billion Euros in 2012/2013. The company’s global R&D headquarters is located at Sindelfingen and Untertürheim near Stuttgart.
Besides the new facility in Beijing, Daimler’s global R&D network includes two more international Competence Centers: Specialists at Sunnyvale in the USA focus on innovations for the so-called “digital drivestyle” and Bangalore in India is home to the Competence Center for digital product development and IT.
(Nov 03, 2014)