Environmentally responsible product development

A vehicle’s environmental impact is largely decided in the first stages of development. By integrating environmentally responsible product development (Design for Environment, DfE) at an early stage of the development processes, it is possible to minimize the impact on the environment more efficiently. That is why continuous improvements in environmental compatibility are a major requirement in the creation of the product performance specifications. Our DfE experts are involved in all stages of vehicle development as a cross-divisional team.

In addition, we systematically integrate the product design into our environment and quality management systems according to ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. Since 2012, Mercedes-Benz has been in full compliance with the relevant ISO 14006 standard. In addition, Mercedes-Benz has also been certified according to ISO TR 14062, the standard for environmentally oriented product development, since 2005.

  • Environmental management in product development

    Environmental management in product development

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    The requirements on the environmental compatibility of our vehicles are integral aspects of vehicle development, which are discussed in the responsible bodies and implemented accordingly. The vehicle performance specifications and milestones (quality gates) in the development process document the environmental effects and requirements for the entire product development process.
  • Mercedes-Benz models with environmental certificates

    Back in 2005, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was the world’s first automobile to obtain an environmental certificate in accordance with the standards for environmentally compatible product development specified by ISO/TR 14062. The certification office of the independent technical inspection agency TÜV SÜD certified with its seal of approval that the vehicle was developed in accordance with the requirements of the ISO standard in all respects. Today, the environmental seal of approval is carried by additional models: the A-Class and B-Class, the C-Class, the CLA, the CLS, the GLA, the GLK, the E-Class, M-Class, S-Class, the SL, and the SLK.

    The environmental assessment involves the examination of more than 40,000 individual processes, which are analyzed, calculated, and evaluated to yield a comprehensive ecological profile. The inspectors evaluate all environmentally relevant processes, from development and production to use and recycling.

    The environmental certificates of the Mercedes-Benz models

Comprehensive life cycle assessment. Evaluating the environmental compatibility of a vehicle requires an analysis of the emissions and use of resources throughout the entire life cycle. The standardized tool for this is the ecological assessment, which examines all environmental effects, from the extraction of raw materials and vehicle production to product use and recycling. At Mercedes-Benz Development, we use life-cycle assessments to evaluate and compare different vehicles, components and technologies.

Holistic balance

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Less weight, more recyclates, more natural materials. Our goal is to make our vehicles lighter while continuing to reduce the environmental effects of materials used in their production. For this, we are using new lightweight materials and components, on the one hand. On the other hand, we are increasingly using renewable materials and recycling materials.

Intelligent lightweight construction can further reduce vehicle weight without sacrificing safety and comfort. In this context, the selection of materials, as well as the component design and manufacturing technology also play an important role: Not every material is suitable for every component. At 35 percent, the vehicle body accounts for the biggest share of total vehicle weight, followed by the chassis at 25 percent, the comfort and safety equipment at 20 percent, and the engine and transmission at 20 percent. Thus, the most effective approach is to focus on the vehicle body.

Lightweight-construction champion C-Class. The innovative aluminum hybrid body of the new C-Class is about 70 kilograms lighter than a traditional body shell made of steel. Overall, it was possible to reduce the weight of the vehicle by as much as 100 kilograms compared with the predecessor model. This pays off: The lightweight construction of the new C-Class contributes to a reduction in fuel consumption by up to 20 percent. The aluminum content of the body shell has been increased from less than 10 percent in the successful predecessor to nearly 50 percent in the present model.

Materials in the new C-Class. Steel and ferrous materials account for almost half the vehicle weight (46.9 percent) of the new C-Class. Alloys make up the second largest group with 22 percent, followed by polymers at 20.2 percent. The percentage of other materials — primarily glass — and non-ferrous metals is around 6 percent. However, the main differences are observed in the steel and alloys of the new C-Class, which is at around 10 percent lower than the predecessor model for steels and about 9 percent higher for alloys and 1 percent higher for polymers. This is attributable primarily to the lightweight design improvements in the body and axles.

Materials content in the body of the new C-Class and predecessor model
Materials content in the body of the new C-Class and predescessor model
Materials content of the new C-Class
Materials content of the new C Class

Increased use of recycled materials. The European End of Life Vehicle Directive 2000/53/EG specifies utilization quotas for passenger cars and vans with a gross vehicle weight of up to 3.5 tons. In addition, it also requires manufacturers to use more recycled materials during vehicle production in order to strengthen the markets for recycled materials. That is why the performance specifications for the new Mercedes-Benz models prescribe continuous increases in the amounts of recycled materials to be used in car models — as also specified in the targets program.

Currently, 52 components with a total weight of 49.3 kilograms are approved for manufacture with recycled plastics for the new C-Class. This corresponds to 3.7 percent of the total vehicle weight or a good 29 percent of all thermoplastic materials used in the vehicle. In the predecessor model this figure was only 2.8 percent.

More renewable raw materials. Renewable materials offer many advantages:

  • In contrast to fiberglass, the use of natural fibers generally leads to a reduction in a component’s weight due to their lower density.
  • They can be processed with conventional technologies.
  • The resulting products are generally easily recyclable.
  • In energy recovery their CO2 effect is almost neutral because only as much CO2 is released as was absorbed by the plant during its growth.
  • They contribute to the reduced consumption of fossil resources.

Natural materials in the new C-Class. Renewable materials used in the production of 76 components of the new C-Class have a combined weight of 26.3 kilograms. Thus, the total weight of the components manufactured with the natural materials has increased by 55 percent compared to the predecessor model.

Top scores in aerodynamics. With a Cd value of 0.24, the new C220 BlueTEC Blue Efficiency Edition sets a new standard in the medium-size category. On the road this yields measurable ecological and economic benefits, because good aerodynamics make a decisive contribution to lowering fuel consumption and CO2 levels with savings of 1 gram of CO2 per kilometer in the NEDC driving cycle for each reduction of the Cd value by 0.01 points. Measured in terms of average real consumption, the reduction amounts to as much as 2 grams of CO2 less per kilometer. Sophisticated aerodynamics pay off even more impressively in highway driving, where a 0.01 point improvement in the Cd value yields a reduction of more than 4 grams in the CO2 emissions per kilometer — which gives Daimler good reasons for attaching great value to excellent aerodynamics.

The environmental profile of the new C-Class
The environmental profile of the new C Class
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