Mercedes to drop innovations like "super brakes" to cut costs

Stuttgart. Pressured by increased costs and lower profit margins, Mercedes-Benz will remove certain innovations that were originally intended to help the brand take the lead in technology engineering.

The first system to be cut are the costly "super brakes," the Sensotronic Brake Control system (SBC) supplied by Bosch for the SL and E models.

According to the supplier, the system will not be used in the next-generation S-class as originally planned. The M-class successor model will also be fitted with conventional hydraulic brakes. These will be upgraded with additional features to make it functionality similar to that of the SBC system.

Mercedes-Benz gave the contract for upgrading both model series to Germany's Conti-Teves. Teves engineers say the use of the SBC system only makes sense in hybrid vehicles. They said that the system is too expensive to be used in conventional cars and its complicated pressure control is too complex. They also said it is easier now to reach safety standards with a hydraulic system.

A Bosch spokesman said of Mercedes' change of plan: "We pointed out the complexity of the SBC brakes to Mercedes at an early stage. In addition, the current number of vehicles produced doesn't make this a profitable project for us."

The new Bosch CEO, Franz Fehrenbach, also pointed out at the IAA in Frankfurt that it is not in the interest of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers to "develop products and systems that don't generate enough customer interest and of which only a small series will be produced." In future Bosch will focus "more on innovation with detectable customer benefit," he said.

Mercedes played down the renunciation of the SBC: "It is important that our customers get the maximum benefit - no matter at which cost."

Mercedes boss Juergen Hubbert acknowledges that there have been internal discussions that in the future cost- and quality aspects of new technologies should not be introduced so quickly and at any cost.

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