Mercedes-Benz today released a sneak preview of its ESF 2009 S400 Hybrid experimental Safety Vehicle as part of a preview at its Stuttgart headquarters. The new ESF model revives a long-lapsed tradition of high-tech safety prototypes.
The last time Mercedes outfitted an ESF - the German acronym for Experimental Safety Vehicle - prototype was 1974. The new model will be revealed as part of the Mercedes-Benz Museum's Fascination of Technology exhibit.
Fitted with all of Mercedes-Benz's most advanced technology, from the S400 Hybrid powertrain to the Pre-Safe crash-detection system, center seat airbags and inflatable metal bracing structures, the ESF 2009 showcases almost everything Mercedes is capable of in the field of safety technology.
The 'inflatable metal' structures allow for the car to be built light for efficiency and performance, and then pressurized in an instant to enhance rigidity and strength, improving safety to levels typically requiring more metal. The Pre-Safe Pulse technology gently pushes occupants toward the middle of the car via movable side bolsters in the event of a side-impact crash, improving survivability and decreasing injury rates.
Rear-seat occupants get a special seatbelt airbag that takes some of the load off the chest as well.
Almost all of the technology is already earmarked to make its way into production cars at some point in the future. Full details and specifications for the super-safe exhibition car will be forthcoming later this month.