Mercedes-Benz is a multinational division of the German manufacturer Daimler AG, and the brand is used for luxury automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is headquartered in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The name first appeared in 1926 under Daimler-Benz but traces its origins to Daimler's 1901 Mercedes and to Karl Benz's 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen, widely regarded as the first automobile.
Mercedes-Benz traces its origins to Karl Benz's creation of the first petrol-powered car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, patented in January 1886 and Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach's conversion of a stagecoach by the addition of a petrol engine later that year. The Mercedes automobile was first marketed in 1901 by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft. The first Mercedes-Benz brand name vehicles were produced in 1926, following the merger of Karl Benz's and Gottlieb Daimler's companies into the Daimler-Benz company. Mercedes-Benz has introduced many technological and safety innovations that later became common in other vehicles. Mercedes-Benz is one of the best known and established automotive brands in the world, and is also the world's oldest automotive brand still in existence today. For information relating to the famous three-pointed star, see under the title Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft including the merger into Daimler-Benz.
As part of the Daimler AG company, the Mercedes-Benz Cars division includes Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach car production.
Since its inception, Mercedes-Benz had maintained a reputation for its quality and durability. Objective measures looking at passenger vehicles, such as J. D. Power surveys, demonstrated a downturn in reputation in these criteria in the late 1990s and early 2000s. By mid-2005, Mercedes temporarily returned to the industry average for initial quality, a measure of problems after the first 90 days of ownership, according to J.D. Power. In J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study for the first quarter of 2007, Mercedes showed dramatic improvement by climbing from 25th to 5th place, for the first time surpassing quality leader Toyota, and earning several awards for its models.
For 2008, Mercedes-Benz's initial quality rating improved by yet another mark, to fourth place. On top of this accolade, it also received the Platinum Plant Quality Award for its Mercedes’ Sindelfingen, Germany assembly plant. J.D. Power's 2011 US Initial Quality and Vehicle Dependability Studies both ranked Mercedes-Benz vehicles above average in build quality and reliability. In the 2011 UK JD Power Survey, Mercedes cars rated above average (scoring ahead of both BMW and Audi, but trailing behind in its quality rating to the industry leader Lexus, as has been the case in all previous years).
Since 2002, Mercedes-Benz has developed the F-Cell fuel cell vehicle. The current version, based on the B-Class, has a 250 mile range and is available for lease, with volume production scheduled to begin in 2014. Mercedes has also announced the SLS AMG E-Cell, a fully electric version of the SLS sports car, with deliveries expected in 2013. The Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHYBRID was launched in 2009, and is the first production automotive hybrid in the world to use a lithium-ion battery. In mid-2010, production commenced on the Vito E-Cell all-electric van. Mercedes expects 100 vehicles to be produced by the end of 2010 and a further 2000 by the end of 2011. In 2008, Mercedes-Benz announced that it would have a demonstration fleet of small electric cars in two to three years. Mercedes-Benz and Smart are preparing for the widespread uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK by beginning the installation of recharging points across their dealer networks. So far 20 Elektrobay recharging units, produced in the UK by Brighton-based Elektromotive, have been installed at seven locations as part of a pilot project, and further expansion of the initiative is planned later in 2010.