Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the Concept Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile, known in short as the Concept IAA, on the opening day of this year’s Frankfurt motor show.
Described as a “Digital Transformer”, the show car aims to demonstrate how far advanced the German carmaker is in the digitalisation of automotive design and production.
Measuring 5040 millimetres long, 1995 mm wide and 1305 mm high, the drop-shaped design study embodies two cars in one – a four-door coupe and a claimed aerodynamic world record breaker with a cd figure of 0.19.
Upwards of 50 mph, the study automatically switches from design mode to aerodynamic mode, whereby numerous aerodynamics measures alter the shape of the car.
At the rear end, eight segments deploy, extending it by up to 390 mm; front flaps in the front bumper extend outwards by 25 mm and rearwards by 200 mm, improving airflow around the front end and the front wheel arches; the active wheel rims change their cupping from 50 mm to zero; and the fin in the front bumper retracts by 60 mm to improve flow along the underbody.
Mercedes-Benz says the concept highlights the fundamental technological changes which are taking place in the automotive industry. The primary driving force behind this process of change is digitisation – commonly referred to in a business context as “Industry 4.0”.
The design and aerodynamic shaping of the Concept IAA would not have been possible without the systematic digital networking of different specialist departments. Developed with numerical flow simulation, Mercedes-Benz aerodynamics experts claim to have used around one million CPU hours to simulate the airflow, working through around 300 variants. The work involved is roughly equivalent to that required to develop a production model.
“Never before have we developed a vehicle concept as quickly as our Concept IAA,” said Daimler boss, Dr. Dieter Zetsche. “What previously took up to one and a half years, we managed in less than 10 months thanks to digitalisation.”
The study is also equipped with a large number of sensors and modules that enable autonomous driving and car-to-x communication. Further technical features like the operating concept with touch-based functionalities in the interior likewise point the way to the business saloon of the near future, according to the designers.
Underneath, the concept car is powered by a petrol/electric plug-in hybrid drive with a claimed total output of 275 bhp. This provides it with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
CO2 emissions and electric range depend on the mode in which the vehicle is tested: in aerodynamic mode the car is said to manage an all-electric range of 41 miles and emits 28 g CO2 per km. In design mode the range stands at 38 miles and CO2 emissions at 31 g per km.