Mercedes-Benz expects improvements across all fronts, from increased performance through engines with higher specific output to wireless communications, providing advanced consumer services. Overall, cars will be much more aware of their surroundings through the use of new sensors. This information will be processed by a network of embedded systems providing drivers with immediate feedback regarding critical information, like road hazards and engine performance.
We expect to achieve even lower emissions through a combination of new engine design (cylinder head), as well as the use of improved electronics for engine management control. Our current S500 five-liter models are already ultra-low-emission vehicles with very low cold-start emissions. We expect our present very good emissions at the exhaust port, prior to the catalytic converter, to continue to improve.
Safety systems will keep improving with more anticipatory safety systems, such as collision-detection systems, becoming standard features. These kinds of changes will be based on advances in vision, radar, and ultrasonic technology combined with the continuing use of advanced computer technology.
Finally, intelligent maintenance will improve automobile life and reliability while reducing costs. For example, advanced monitoring systems will allow scheduling of oil changes based on details like engine operating conditions instead of simplistic three-month or 3000-mile rules. Advanced monitoring will notify drivers that service is needed sooner for heavy-duty driving and later if a vehicle sees light use. Likewise, many systems, such as braking and the transmission, are essentially sealed for life, requiring maintenance under rare conditions.
We expect future gains in transmissions through the use of continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology. In the past, a CVT was available from another vendor on a specific model, but it's used in any car sold today. While a CVT requires sophisticated electronic controls, it delivers a smoother ride, improved engine efficiency, and lower emissions.
Hybrid systems will eventually be used, especially with electrical engines coming into play for low-speed operation. The time frame for these hybrid systems to emerge is still in a state of flux, but there should be a few commercially available hybrid designs by 2005.
Voice-recognition (VR) development will be critical. We were first with user-independent VR in our cell-phone system. VR will play an important part in future wireless and entertainment controls. We expect greater wireless bandwidth in cars, making new services available, like Internet access and travel planning.
Overall, cars for the 2005 model year will be more efficient, more reliable, and easier to maintain. They will also have more safety and wireless features that will be less expensive and more advanced than those in the current vehicles.