AMG Mercedes-Benz – Tomorrow

Late spring I wrote an article for The Star Magazine titled, "AMG Mercedes-Benz, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." The Star is published by the Mercedes-Benz Club of America (MBCA). For those that don't get the magazine, here's a short excerpt concerning the "tomorrow" for AMG.

The following excerpt also includes information that I collected while researching that was not published. You can read the article in the July/August issue of the Star magazine (page 55).

More horsepower. Is it possible and do we even want more?
Its clear the engineers and designers of pre-merger AMG vehicles focused heavily on performance and increasing horsepower. This trend continues post-merger but the focus is slowly but surely changing.

I’ve encountered AMG enthusiasts claiming a "watering down" of the performance bias, while others view this shifting tide as a return to a more balanced automobile. However you view this mild debate it is apparent that we are approaching the horsepower limits for passenger cars. Due to the limitations associated with cooling an engine, the practical horsepower limit is widely believed to be in the range of 650 to 700 hp. Given we’re basically there, what’s next?

New decades create new customer demands and automobile manufacturers are paying attention.

“Sooner or later the market for high-performance vehicles will be saturated, as there’s only limited demand for 600 bhp cars,” explains Oliver Kurz, Head of Planning, Reporting and Order Management at Mercedes AMG. “These are the kind of trends we needed to consider in our planning processes.” (Quote from Cognos website).

Significantly more attention is being paid to creature comforts and cockpit controls. Instead of more horses under the hood expect to see more chips in the chassis. By the end of the decade, a third of a car's value will lie in its electronics and advanced technologies.

AMG competitor BMW is also heavily focused on technology and their advances have caught the eye of tech savvy PC Magazine, which awarded the BMW X5 the "Digital Drive Car of The Year." The criteria for PC Magazine's second annual Digital Drive Awards? They looked for cars with an expected baseline of technology – such as Bluetooth, navigation, parking sonar, stability control, and a full complement of safety features. Then they sought out the first implementations of technology that will be mainstream in two to five years.

Based on PC Magazine’s comments on the, ah, BMW, here’s a few things you can expect,

“Consider the tech package, for instance. The nav system employs a split-screen, transflective display that grows brighter in sunlight. The real-time traffic reports draw information from more than 600,000 other vehicles that automatically report their position and speed (rather than relying on copters, police sightings, and embedded sensors prone to failure). A back-up camera and front/rear sonar combine to provide a backing view – enhanced by Doppler-effect sound – that overlays warning bars (in green, yellow, and red) to indicate your proximity to hazards.”

They can rocket to the future, they can rocket to the moon…if they need anything they push a button and it's done. Sound familiar? Yes, the Jetsons will soon be comfortable in the cockpit of your car.

Last year I had the pleasure of attending an AMG talk given by former AMG Product Manager, Rob Allan. MBCA’s Greater Washington Section organized the event. It was a classic with Rob giving his presentation in the garage bay area at Euro Motorcars of Germantown – where else would a true car guy rather be?

During the presentation Rob touched on the improvements in transmission technology. If you haven’t done so already, kiss your stick shift goodbye. Like it or not machines now shift faster, smoother, and more intelligently than humans. Double down shifting? Not a problem. According to Rob Allan and other automotive aficionados, automatic transmissions are now “the world’s most intelligent transmissions.” The only thing the driver should reach for with his or her right hand is a coffee mug; assuming coffee isn’t dispensed out of the steering wheel in the future – maybe I should patent that idea? You can also expect to hear, “Mom, what’s a stick shift?”

Another resource pertaining to AMG’s future you should consider is the discussion groups published on the AMG Private Lounge. AMG owners have access to exclusive information such as the “Chat Sessions” held on the discussion boards. About once a month the AMG Product Manager from MBUSA, currently Mark Ramsey, hosts a discussion session where he answers questions from AMG Private Lounge members. The publishers prefer not to re-publish the question and answer sessions so you’ll need to visit the Lounge for details.

Performance still holds the prominent role in the AMG marketing campaigns. Consider, for example, the marketing copy for the SL 55 AMG, which reads, “An athlete among roadsters, the muscular, dynamic, tireless SL 55 AMG possesses strength and style.” The performance stats still come first, “With the 517 hp (380 kW) of the AMG 5.5-liter V8 Kompressor engine…” And the styling features still follow performance, “The AMG styling, retractable hardtop and attractive interior complete the look that complements its high performance.”

Will AMG reach the day when the high performance complements the styling? I doubt it but the trend appears to be heading in this direction.

No matter what direction our beloved AMG cars take in the future, one thing will always remain the same: AMG “high-styling” cars will be fun to drive and enthusiasts will drive them.


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