Research and development

Research and development as key success factors. Research and development have always played a key role at Daimler. Our researcher engineers anticipate trends, customer wishes and the requirements of the mobility of the future, and our developer 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 2013, Daimler employed 21,300 men and women at its research and development units (2012: 21,100). A total of 13,600 employees (2012: 13,400) worked at Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, 5,600 (2012: 5,600) at Daimler Trucks, 1,000 (2012: 1,000) at Mercedes-Benz Vans, and 1,100 (2012: 1,100) at Daimler Buses.

Our international research and development network. During the year under review, we expanded our research and development network in a targeted manner, expanding it to 22 locations in ten countries. Our biggest facilities are in Sindelfingen and Stuttgart-Untertürkheim in Germany. In Sunnyvale, California, the new headquarters of our research facilities in North America, approximately 100 people are employed at present and this number is scheduled to be doubled. In Asia, we have an important center in Bangalore, India, and the Global Hybrid Center in Kawasaki, Japan, as well as a research and development center in Beijing, which began operations in 2012. We opened a new research center in Bangalore in January 2013. With its approximately 1,300 employees, the new facility is Daimler’s largest research and development center outside Germany. In March 2013, our van joint venture in China, Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation, opened Mercedes-Benz Vans’ first product development center outside Germany, in Fuzhou. We also work together with numerous renowned research institutions worldwide and participate in international exchange programs for young scientists.

Targeted involvement of the supplier industry. In order to reach our ambitious goals, we are also cooperating very closely with research and development units from the supplier industry. Daimler must be closely interconnected 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. As part of our joint research and development work, we ensure that our company 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. 128 years after the automobile was invented, our researchers and developers continue to regularly apply for patents to protect their new ideas. At the end of 2013, the patent portfolio of Daimler AG and its subsidiaries comprised more than 21,800 patents and patent applications (2012: 21,800). The new S-Class alone involves more than 800 of these intellectual property rights. They not only secure our scope to apply innovative technologies, they also ensure the exclusivity of innovations such as the high-comfort chassis system MAGIC BODY CONTROL. In addition to owning the intellectual property rights to our technology, we have more than 6,100 protected product designs. Our portfolio of intellectual property rights is completed with around 32,500 legally protected trademarks worldwide. They include the Mercedes-Benz brand, which, according to the internationally well-known brand consultant Interbrand, is the most valuable premium automotive brand in the world. Our portfolio of intellectual property rights is also becoming increasingly important with regard to future alliances and partnerships. The intellectual property rights supplement our researchers and development engineers’ expertise and make Daimler a sought-after partner for technology and product partnerships.

€5.4 billion for research and development. We want to continue shaping technological transformation in the automotive sector through our pioneering innovations. As we had already announced in the Annual Report 2012, we once again invested a very large amount of money in research and development work in 2013. Of the total investment of €5.4 billion (2012: €5.6 billion), €1.3 billion (2012: €1.5 billion) was capitalized as development costs, which amounts to a capitalization rate of 24% (2012: 26%). The amortization of capitalized research and development expenditure totaled €1.1 billion during the year under review (2012: 1.0 billion). With a rate of 4.6% (2012: 4.9%), the research and development expenditure also stayed at a high level in comparison with revenue. The focus was 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 further increased our vehicles’ efficiency — ranging from energy management and aerodynamics to lightweight engineering.

The most important projects at Mercedes-Benz Cars were the successors of the C-, E- and S-Class, the new compact cars and the new smart models. In addition, we are constantly working to develop new engine generations, alternative drive systems and innovative safety technologies. Mercedes-Benz Cars spent a total of €3.8 billion on research and development in 2013 (2012: €3.9 billion). Daimler Trucks invested €1.1 billion in research and development projects (2012: €1.2 billion). That division’s main projects were the continuous further development of engines with a focus on optimizing fuel consumption and complying with new emission standards, working on alternative drive systems and the successor generations of existing products. R&D expenditure at Mercedes-Benz Vans concentrated on the successor models of the Vito and the Viano. The Daimler Buses division primarily focused its development activities on new products, compliance with new emissions standards, and alternative drive systems. (See graphic C.38 and table C.39)

C.38 Research and development expenditure


Research and development expenditure by division
  2013 2012 13/12
In millions of euros     % change
Daimler Group 5,385 5,644 -5
thereof capitalized 1,284 1,465 -12
Mercedes-Benz Cars 3,751 3,863 -3
thereof capitalized 1,063 1,125 -6
Daimler Trucks 1,140 1,197 -5
thereof capitalized 79 180 -56
Mercedes-Benz Vans 321 371 -13
thereof capitalized 139 137 +1
Daimler Buses 181 222 -18
thereof capitalized 3 23 -87