Research and development

Research and development as key success factors. Research and development have always played a key role at Daimler. Our researchers anticipate trends, customer wishes and the requirements of the mobility of the future, and our development engineers systematically implement these ideas in products that are ready for series production. Our goal is to offer our customers fascinating products and customized solutions for need-oriented, safe and sustainable mobility. Our technology portfolio and our key areas of expertise are oriented toward this objective.

The expertise, creativity and drive of our employees in research and development are key factors behind our vehicles’ market success. At the end of 2014, Daimler employed 21,700 men and women at its research and development units (2013: 21,300) A total of 14,000 employees (2013: 13,600) worked at Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, 5,500 (2013: 5,600) at Daimler Trucks, 1,000 (2013: 1,000) at Mercedes-Benz Vans and 1,100 (2013: 1,100) at Daimler Buses. Around 4,600 researchers and development engineers (2013: 4,400) worked outside Germany.

Our international research and development network. Our global research and development network comprises 21 locations in ten countries. Our biggest facilities are in Sindelfingen and Stuttgart-Untertürkheim in Germany. Approximately 120 people are currently employed in Sunnyvale, California, the headquarters of our research facilities in North America. Other important research locations in North America are Long Beach, California; Portland, Oregon; and Redford, Michigan. Our most important locations in Asia are our facility in Bangalore, India; the Global Hybrid Center in Kawasaki, Japan; and our research and development center in Beijing. With its approximately 2,000 employees, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI) is Daimler’s largest research and development center outside Germany. In November 2014, Daimler Greater China Ltd. opened a new research and development center in China, thereby expanding the existing R&D network in Beijing. The Advanced Design Studio is the most important component of the new center and it also serves as the Group’s new design hub in Asia. Its primary task is to provide Chinese customers with an even more intense Mercedes-Benz brand experience. Some 500 highly qualified engineers and designers will work at the new Mercedes-Benz research and development center in China in the future. In 2013, our van joint venture in China, Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation, opened a new product development center in Fuzhou. This facility, which is the first Mercedes-Benz Vans product development center outside Germany, has a design and calculation department, proving grounds, test labs and component and complete-vehicle test rigs.

Along with our internal activities, we also maintain close contacts with external research institutions. For example, we work together with various renowned research institutes and participate in international exchange programs for up-and-coming scientists.

Targeted involvement of the supplier industry. In order to reach our ambitious goals, we also cooperate very closely with research and development units from the supplier industry. Daimler must be closely meshed with supplier companies in order to deal with the rapid pace of technological change in the automotive industry and the need to quickly bring new technologies to market. Strong partners from the supplier industry are also indispensable for our efforts to develop and offer new concepts for future mobility. As part of our joint research and development work, we ensure that the Group retains the key technological expertise it needs in order to keep our brands distinct and to safeguard the future of the automobile in general.

Intellectual property rights secure our leadership in technology and innovation. Carl Benz invented and patented the automobile in 1886. Since then, we have refined automobiles with more than 100,000 patents. In the year 2014, a total of 2,049 new ideas were registered for patents (2013: 2,078). These patent applications secure not only scope for the application of innovative technologies, but also the exclusivity of our innovations. Inventions are identified and protected at all of our sites in the global research and development network – especially in Germany, China, Japan, the United States and India. In addition to industrial property rights, unique visual aspects of our products are protected with over 6,400 designs registered in 2014 (2013: 6,100). Furthermore, with a portfolio of more than 32,900 trademarks (2013: 32,500), we protect the renowned and valuable Mercedes-Benz brand, the three-pointed star and all other product brands in each relevant market.

€5.7 billion for research and development. We want to continue shaping mobility through our pioneering innovations in the coming years. As we had already announced in Annual Report 2013, we once again invested the very large amount of €5.7 billion in research and development work in 2014 (2013: €5.5 billion). Of that amount, €1.1 billion (2013: €1.3 billion) was capitalized as development costs, which amounts to a capitalization rate of 20% (2013: 23%). The amortization of capitalized research and development expenditure totaled €1.2 billion during the year under review (2013: €1.1 billion). With a rate of 4.4% (2013: 4.7%), research and development expenditure also remained at a high level in comparison with revenue. Research in the reporting year focused on new vehicle models, extremely fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly drive systems and new safety technologies. We made improvements in all of the main areas that help further increase our vehicles’ efficiency — ranging from innovative drive-system concepts to energy management, aerodynamics and lightweight engineering.

The most important development projects at Mercedes-Benz Cars were the successor models of the E-Class and M-Class, as well as our new generation of compact cars. In addition, we continually invest in new low-emission engines, alternative drive systems and innovative safety technologies. Mercedes-Benz Cars spent a total of €4.0 billion on research and development in 2014, surpassing the high level of expenditure in 2013 (€3.8 billion). Daimler Trucks invested €1.2 billion in research and development projects (2013: €1.2 billion). The focus there was on new medium-duty and heavy-duty engines as well as on the successor generations of existing products. R&D expenditure at Mercedes-Benz Vans mainly for ongoing product enhancement measures, as well as efforts to further reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency. Daimler Buses primarily focused its development activities on new products, the fulfillment of new emissions standards and the creation of alternative drive systems. Around half of our research and development expenditure is applied for the development of green technologies. (See graphic B.38 and table B.39)

Daimler AR2014 B.38 Research and development expenditure

B.39

Research and development expenditure by division
  2014 2013 14/13
In millions of euros     % change
       
Daimler Group 5,680 5,489  +3
thereof capitalized 1,148 1,284 -11
Mercedes-Benz Cars 4,025 3,808  +6
thereof capitalized 1,035 1,063 -3
Daimler Trucks 1,188 1,171  +1
thereof capitalized 34 79 -57
Mercedes-Benz Vans 293 329 -11
thereof capitalized 68 139 -51
Daimler Buses 182 187 -3
thereof capitalized 11 3  +267

 

Your position