We have often complained about the lack of truly far-reaching concept cars on today’s show circuit. Instead of creating visions of a distant future, too often automakers show concepts that closely resemble upcoming production cars; the idea is to condition the public. We may have to shelve that lament for a little while because, with the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion concept unveiled at CES, Daimler has just shown a dream car in the fully original sense.
Powered by two rear-mounted electric motors with a total peak output of 272 horsepower (and a sustained output of 163 hp), the rear-wheel-drive F 015 is said to sprint to 62 mph in 6.7 seconds, while top speed is limited to 125 mph. The electricity is generated by means of a hydrogen fuel cell; a high-voltage battery can provide short bursts of additional power.
The F 015’s body and structure use aluminum, high-strength steel, and composite materials—including carbon fiber. Its “monolithic” shape features a blurred division between the body and the windows, possibly inspired by Bertone’s classic Lancia Sibilo concept.
At 205.5 inches long (versus 206.5 for the Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan), 79.4 inches wide (more than 4 inches wider than an S-class), and 60.0 inches tall (1.3 inches taller), the F 015 is positively huge and should offer far more interior space than any current luxury car. Resting on a 142.1-inch wheelbase (just three inches shy of a Ford F-150 SuperCrew), the futuristic Mercedes rolls on 26-inch wheels, which help to balance the proportions of this luxury concept.
Access to the interior is afforded by doors that open 90 degrees, as well as a B-pillarless aperture. Here, Daimler has made good use of space. The cabin features four lounge chairs, which can swivel around; the surroundings are an exercise of futurism and sensual beauty, clad in leather and lined with wood, metal, and glass trim. The occupants will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy their environment, as the F 015 is designed to showcase Daimler’s vision of autonomous driving. With a plethora of stereo cameras and radar sensors, the car constantly monitors its surroundings, and it is fully capable of driving without any human input. If desired, however, the driver can take command at any point.
The list of forward-looking technologies is virtually endless. The F 015 provides a 360-degree view outside; it can make travel even more interesting by projecting scenery onto the interior walls. Further, it is always online, and it can communicate with the outside world.
In fact, Daimler dreams of a future in which inner cities may have areas that allow only autonomous vehicles. This would eliminate the need for traffic signs, the company says, and it could lower any danger to pedestrians to virtually zero. And there is more: After the F 015 has delivered its occupants to their destination, it could simply take off and find its own parking spot—potentially well out of the city, in order to keep high-population zones free of excessive traffic.
Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche says the F 015 could usher in an entirely new relationship between humans and cars. The car then becomes a comfortable pod, perhaps even a refuge—and it allows for working or conversing when the commute is dull or can provide mobility to disabled people.
We are not sure we share every aspect of Daimler’s vision. But we applaud the fact that the automaker has these bold visions at all, given that most other companies seem to be playing a bit too safe.
Originally published at Car and Driver.