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Mercedes-Benz Unveils Radical F300 'Life Jet' at Frankfurt Show; Unusual F300 Concept Vehicle Reveals New Breakthroughs in Vehicle Dynamics

10 September 1997

Mercedes-Benz Unveils Radical F300 'Life Jet' at Frankfurt Show; Unusual F300 Concept Vehicle Reveals New Breakthroughs in Vehicle Dynamics

    FRANKFURT, Germany, Sept. 9 -- Mercedes-Benz is showcasing
some radical new concepts in the science of vehicle dynamics with its three-
wheeled F300 Life Jet research vehicle now on display at the 57th Frankfurt
International Motor Show.  With two wheels in front and one in the rear, the
high-technology three-wheeler combines the cornering dynamics and unique feel
of a motorcycle with the safety and comfort of a car, all in a fun, bold
future concept for the young and the young in spirit.

    Active Tilt Control System Provides 0.9 g Cornering
    The body and front wheels of the two-seat F300 automatically lean into
turns when cornering, thanks to an unusual active tilt control system which
responds at lightening speed.  This means the F300 provides the cornering
speed and agility of a motorcycle with active safety akin to a car.  The F300
can deal easily with cornering forces of 0.9 g -- usually attainable only by
seasoned drivers.  The automatic tilt control also increases ride comfort,
since occupants hardly need to brace themselves against centrifugal force when
    The tilt control is actually a sophisticated electronic system which uses
vehicle speed, steering angle and yaw to calculate the ideal tilt angle for
every situation.  A parallelogram front axle is controlled by a hydraulic
cylinder and pump which rely on electronic signals from the tilt control
computer to provide the desired tilt angle.  Like an expertly piloted
motorcycle, the F300 tilt control system only permits a gentle, slight tilt
angle at high speeds for stable tracking, while for ideal agility at slower
speeds, it reacts more quickly to provide a tilt angle of up to 30 degrees.
    The electronic tilt system also incorporates adaptive software, which can
recognize sporty driving as well as a smoother, more conservative style and
respond accordingly to control the front axle and vehicle tilt.  The
articulated front suspension features exposed dual-wishbone control arms made
of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic.  This same material is combined with steel
guide tubes on each side of the parallelogram suspension.
    At the rear, a single wheel is located by a motorcycle-type suspension
unit with a mono-shock and a die-cast aluminum control arm.

    Powertrain From the A-Class
    The Mercedes three-wheeler's engine and transmission are tucked neatly
between the passenger compartment and the rear wheel, which is driven by a
toothed belt.  A 100-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine borrowed from
the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class (not sold in the U.S.) accelerates the F300 from
zero to 60 miles per hour in just 7.5 seconds.  With a top speed of just over
130 mph, the innovative three-wheeler matches the performance of more powerful
roadsters and sports cars.  The F300 research car is about 156 inches in
length -- nearly the same as a Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster.
    In the event of a serious rear collision, the sharply angled layout of the
engine-transmission unit ensures that the engine can slide down the oblique
rear surface of the chassis and not penetrate the F300 passenger compartment.
In this way, the innovative crash design of the front-wheel-drive A-Class is
also applied to the rear-drive F300 three-wheeler.

    Intelligent Lightweight Design With An Aluminum Frame
    The F300 two-seater has a sturdy space frame of extruded aluminum which
weighs less than 200 pounds.  With a crashworthy double floor which also
provides high torsional rigidity (especially good during fast cornering), the
complete research vehicle weighs in at 1,760 pounds.  Researchers are planning
to reduce the curb weight to about 1,300 pounds if the vehicle goes into
volume production.
    An eight-gallon fuel tank is housed between the double floor, along with
coolant and hydraulic lines as well as the computer hardware.

    Aircraft-Style Design Inside and Out
    The imaginative designers of the Mercedes-Benz F300 research vehicle were
given free rein, and the result is an avant-garde shape reminiscent of a jet
plane with a single, central headlight.  While the unusual tilt technology and
the kinematices of the front axle limited the stylists' scope, the body shape
nonetheless features flowing, dynamic exterior lines which incorporate a
strong integrated roll bar.
    The driver sits squarely in the center of the F300 cockpit, as in a glider
or jet.  Because of the three-wheeler's innovative tilt cornering, the
passenger sits behind the driver, each in a comfortable sport seat.  At the
touch of a switch, the driver's door opens forward with a 60-degree "scissor"
action (similar to the Mercedes-Benz F200 research car or a Lamborghini
Diablo), while the passenger has a more, conventional door, albeit hinged at
the rear.
    Unlike a motorcycle, the F300 is designed for comfortable and fun year-
round travel in any climate.  In good weather, two clear plastic roof panels
can be removed and stowed, and with the power side windows down, only the
sturdy windshield frame and the integrated roll bar remain above the sill, as
basic parts of the research car's safety concept.

    "F" Is For Fun
    The letter "F" stands for the German word "Forschung" which means
"research" -- and a short step away to "future."  In 1991, the Mercedes-Benz
F100 future technology car pointed the way.  Then last year came the F200
concept car, equipped with such futuristic systems as a joystick for steering,
acceleration and braking.
    Looking at the F300 research vehicle, the letter "F" could just as well
stand for "fun."  And it lives up to this promise on the road, thanks to its
unique vehicle concept and an innovative tilt angle system.

SOURCE  Mercedes-Benz

 Mercedes Benz F3000 Concept Car ]
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