PHOTO CAPTION: Mercedes-Benz Reporter concept vehicle

Mercedes-Benz 'Reporter' Mates CNG and Plug-In Hybrid Drive

DualX E-Drive offers 55 km electric-range, with additional 300 km using compressed natural gas.

Published: 01-Oct-2010

The MBtech Group attracted attention with a premiere at today's press conference at the 63rd IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hanover: The company presented the eagerly awaited "Reporter" concept study – As a 1:1-scale, see-through model of the futuristic pick-up which literally makes MBtech's comprehensive range of engineering and consulting competencies transparent.

"As a service provider, the MBtech Group is always searching for opportunities to tangibly present its range of services. Given that most of our customer projects are top secret, this is not usually possible," explained Werner Kropsbauer, President and Spokesman MBtech Group, at the beginning of the IAA press conference. "That is why we are especially delighted to officially present an exciting project for the first time in Hanover: The MBtech 'Reporter' – our own vehicle concept study which provides detailed, demonstrative coverage of MBtech's combined full-vehicle competence from the four segments: vehicle engineering, powertrain solutions, electronics solutions and consulting." The project team then revealed the futuristically designed, highly versatile pick-up study – an innovative and practical vehicle concept which is both visually and technically sophisticated.

Born of fresh ideas

MBtech's designers only began working on the "Reporter" project six months ago – The project literally began on an empty sheet of paper and the only requirement was to create a four-seater pick-up whose design language symbolizes MBtech's services and it basic values: Passion, innovation, discipline and trust. "We want to inspire the viewers, make them curious and invite them to discover the concept study. We also want to demonstrate our self-confidence. That is why we have decided on the bold and unmistakable design which makes the 'Reporter' an absolute eye-catcher at the IAA Commercial Vehicles", explained Werner Kropsbauer. However, design is more than just a matter of taste. It can also be evaluated in terms of objective quality criteria - these include the surface design, functionality and feasibility, for example. The "Reporter" sets the highest standards for these criteria. "In addition, we have also emphasized flexibility: The study can be expanded and produced in a vast range of different variants", stated Werner Kropsbauer. we keep you ahead vehicle engineering powertrain solutions electronics solutions consulting The Full-Vehicle Development and Calculation (Digital Prototype) department had the task of finding the ideal packaging – namely digitally combining the Reporter's diverse range of parts and components to create a complete, functioning vehicle. The next step consisted of virtual testing – For example with the help of flow simulations, multi-body and rigidity simulations. "A digital prototype and Cad have become essential parts of our work – They help our customers to save time and money", explained Werner Kropsbauer.

MBtech's Body-in-White team faced the major challenge of determining the right technology and material mix. "In the "Reporter" we demonstrate that we possess a comprehensive range of competencies for developing all of the important technologies", emphasized Werner Kropsbauer. The result is the design of a modular framework which demonstrates a broad spectrum of manufacturing processes – From aluminum die-casting, which replaces 37 individual parts on the Reporter's main chassis beam unit to aluminum shell construction and extruded aluminum profiles onward to carbon-fiber reinforces plastic (CFRP) for the B-column. All of these lightweight design elements also serve to reduce CO2 e emissions.

Current drive system with a future

Although the Reporter's design is the primary focus at the IAA, MBtech has already developed a customized drive concept: It bears the name "DualX E-Drive" and utilizes a plug-in full-hybrid solution combining a 70 kilowatt electric motor with a 1.2 liter natural gas combustion engine which delivers 75 kilowatts and serves as both a range and performance extender. This combination enables a calculated top speed of 130 km/h and a total operating range of more than 300 kilometers – Using the electric engine alone the vehicle has a range of 55 kilometers, calculated in accordance with the New European Driving Cycle (NEFZ). "As the "Reporter" is a concept study, we could have taken the easy road by developing a concept using an e-drive with a middle range of 150 kilometers and a maximum speed of approximately 110 km/h. However, that was not our goal: We wanted to create a low-emission vehicle drive for urban and regional transport which is realistically feasible today and not in 2025 – While providing an optimal cost benefit ratio", stated Werner Kropsbauer. "Being innovative in the drive systems technology sector ultimately means more than simply utilizing new technologies and components. The decisive factors also include the optimal combination and integration of the components along with intelligent energy management." This is where the "Reporter" concept demonstrates its advances in comparison to existing approaches: The e-drive unit is at least the equal of the combustion engine – Both serve to provide propulsion. The completely new feature is that the two engine act autonomously: The e-motor drives the rear axle and the four-cylinder combustion drives the front wheels – Either alternating or simultaneously. This means that an intelligent all-wheel drive system we keep you ahead vehicle engineering powertrain solutions electronics solutions consulting is available when required. The drivers can – depending on their individual driving behavior and the desired operating strategy – choose between three different modes: "eco" for emission-free electric operation in the inner-city, "4range" for low fuel consumption and long range and "4dynamic" in order to utilize the power of both engines for maximum acceleration and driving pleasure.

There are good reasons why the 1.2 liter, four-cylinder combustion engine with exhaust gas turbocharger which serves as the range and performance extender is designed for use with both compressed natural gas (CNG) and gasoline: "CNG costs less than gasoline, the exhaust-gas aftertreatment is simpler, the engine runs more quietly and, above all, the combustion process is cleaner. The commercial vehicle sector has not even begun to utilize the full potential of natural gas", explained Werner Kropsbauer.

Solar power as the icing on the cake

The Reporter's unique "Solar Top" is further proof of the project members' drive to think one step further - and set the standard for the greatest possible flexibility down to the smallest details. The cells are not attached to the fixed roof of the pick-up study but rather are attached to the cover over the cargo area. "Naturally we could not utilize conventional solar cells – these are too large and too heavy, not flexible enough and – because they contain glass – they re not safe enough for automotive applications", explained Werner Kropsbauer. With the specialist, CSP, MBtech ultimately found the ideal partner for realizing its idea of a mobile solar system. The Solar Top utilizes the innovative CSP-Flex3 panels: These are based on a vast number of tiny, spherical solar cells which are pressed between two plastic layers. This results in a flexible, unbreakable solar system which generates up to 266 Watts - Enough energy to easily power the air conditioning, interior lighting or the sound system. The system reduces the load on the vehicle electrical system and uses surplus solar energy to recharge the 12V battery. "This reduces the energy consumption and thus the fuel consumption, which in turn increases the vehicle's range", explained Werner Kropsbauer. Another advantage: The solar top is removed via s simply zipper fastening, can be stored compactly in a bag and set up anywhere – In order to recharge batteries when camping or provide a power source for lighting, cool boxes or laptops, for example. The mobile Solar Top unit is thus perfect for use with camper vans and when camping.

"We have great plans for the concept vehicle – The premiere at the IAA is only the conclusion of the first project phases. Two further project phases will follow soon", emphasized Werner Kropsbauer. Those who know MBtech can look forward to numerous, innovative approaches. we keep you ahead vehicle engineering powertrain solutions electronics solutions consulting

Additional information about MBtech's presence at the IAA is available on the Internet at:

About the MBtech Group

The MBtech Group is an internationally leading engineering and consulting company focusing on the automotive industry. The company has 2500 employees at locations in Europe, North America and Asia. In 2009 the MBtech Group generated a turnover of 250 million euros. MBtech is distinguished by the tightly meshed development and consulting services covering the entire value chain. The MBtech brand combines all of its products and services into four segments: MBtech vehicle engineering, MBtech powertrain solutions, MBtech electronics solutions and MBtech consulting.

Regardless of whether components, systems or modules, new development, integration or testing are required: MBtech supports automobile manufacturers and suppliers beginning with the detailed specifications, covering the design, calculation and testing onward to series maturity. MBtech combines these engineering competencies with customized consulting services along the value chain, from the product development to procurement, production and logistics onward to sales and after-sales. This enables customers to utilize their technologies, services and innovations in the best possible way - and thus achieve clear market advantages.

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