Mercedes-Benz will introduce new steering wheel technology that solves a problem unique to the wave of semiautonomous vehicles.
Most modern driver-assistance systems require drivers to periodically register they are paying attention to the road with a tug of the steering wheel. Mercedes' new capacitive steering wheel, arriving on the 2021 E-Class sedan, takes that wrestling out of the equation.
The new generation of steering wheels has capacitive hands-off detection.
A two-zone sensor mat is located in the rim of the steering wheel. The sensors on the front and back of the rim register whether the steering wheel is being held and signal assistance systems that the vehicle is under control. The touch control buttons integrated into the steering wheel spokes also function capacitively.
The E-Class is the most popular model in the traditional midsize luxury sedan segment and one of the brand's biggest profit centers.
The refreshed 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, expected to arrive stateside this fall, will be offered with two new engines — a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and a beltless six-cylinder engine. Both engines are paired with an integrated starter generator, known as EQ Boost, that can add up to 20 horsepower for short periods.
Mercedes has equipped the E-Class with a suite of driver-assistance tech, including a safety system that monitors blind spots even when a vehicle is at a standstill. The system can warn the driver of approaching vehicles, motorcycles or bicycles when opening the door.