How the Mercedes-Benz F 400 Carving turned a driver into a skierSeptember 29, 2020
Almost 20 years ago, the Germans built a car with very unusual wheels to test new electronic assistants.
Name: Mercedes-Benz F 400 Carving; Debuted: 2001 Tokyo Auto Show
Specification: 218-horsepower gasoline “six” 3.2, rear-wheel drive, five-speed mechanics with electrohydraulic control, active camber adjustment, electronic steering and braking system “by wire” (no physical connection). Carbon ceramic brakes, active hydropneumatic suspension, as well as an aluminum frame, CFRP body and 42-volt onboard electronics.
Why we remembered him today:
Prototypes for testing advanced developments have been built in Stuttgart for a long time. Take the F 300 Life Jet, which was launched in 1997, to explore the possibilities of active camber adjustment. The hero of our today’s article on “forgotten concepts” – Mercedes-Benz F 400 Carving – was a continuation of this study four years later.
Due to the suspension, unusual for that time, the concept took turns at a much higher speed than cars with a traditional chassis design. At the same time, in a bend, the camber of the wheels could change by an angle of up to 20 °, increasing the stability of the car and reducing the risk of skidding. The process was controlled by electronic assistants who constantly measured parameters such as speed, acceleration and steering position. Based on the data obtained, corresponding signals were sent to the hydraulic cylinders in the suspension to change the angle of inclination of the outer wheels. At the same time, those inside the turn remained in the same vertical position.
The lateral acceleration that the Mercedes-Benz F 400 Carving handled in corners was 28% higher than that of conventional sports cars. And when the prototype appeared to have oversteer or understeer, the on-board electronics could temporarily change the angle of inclination of one of the wheels, thereby stabilizing the car and refueling it into a bend along the trajectory set by the driver.
In the event of emergency braking, the car turned into a fierce “stenser”, instantly putting all four wheels in a “house”. With this slope, the tires come into contact with the road surface with the inner part, which better adheres to the asphalt. In this case, the braking distance of the F 400 Carving is reduced from 100 km / h by as much as 5 m. By the way, both tires and wheels of the concept were also very unusual. Their inner diameter was 17 inches and the outer diameter was 19! Thus, when driving in a straight line, the car rolled on a different part of the tread than in corners, where the maximum contact patch was used.
Testing Drive-by-Wire technology was another goal for this concept car. The F 400 Carving did not have a physical connection between the steering wheel and the rack, the pedal and the brake mechanisms. Instead, hundreds of meters of cables passed through the bowels of the body. Through them, commands from the driver were transmitted to the machine’s units.
The concept’s brake discs are made from carbon fiber-reinforced ceramic that can withstand extreme temperatures up to 1600 degrees. In addition to the main on-board electrical system, the F 400 Carving also had a pair of 42-volt auxiliary power supplies, which were primarily responsible for “by wire” control.
The materials used in the construction of the car were also experimental. For example, a body made of CFRP weighed just over 100 kg. In addition to steel, the Germans used a lot of aluminum and carbon in the chassis. Well, and one of the brightest touches of the eccentric roadster was the doors rising up.
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