High-tech partner since 1901


The Mercedes brand first caught the world's attention at the car race Nice-Salon-Nice. The winning car in the year 1901 ran on pneumatic tires from Continental. The starting shot for a successful partnership.

It involves a lot of effort, but sometimes you have to leave your ivory tower. It is certainly more convenient to have the supplier come to MP Headquarters for the quarterly meeting. But somehow that is like swimming without water. Or skiing without snow. In order to gain a proper impression of a supplier you have to visit them. In this case by traveling 200 kilometers in a northerly direction to Babenhausen, near Frankfurt. One of the sites of the major supplier Continental. Nearly 17,000 inhabitants, 2,900 jobs at Conti. They have been manufacturing for Daimler here since the beginning of the 60s. In 2016 with a total of around 2.2 million components. An MP delegation headed by Klaus Zehender was in Babenhausen for a supplier visit.

More than just tires

Even if Continental is the market leader in tire production in Germany, the bigger share of the turnover is made with car electronics. At the Babenhausen production that means: instrument clusters and central displays, head-up displays and touchpads. The latter brought the 2014 Daimler Supplier Award. C-Class drivers also affectionately refer to the highly innovative touchpad in the center console as “Cobra”, because of the similarity to the spreaded neck of a cobra snake. Anyone wanting to take a look at high tech “Made in Germany” in the production area has to don a white coat. Alongside the touchpad something else was of special interest for the MP delegation: the display production for the new E-Class. This is actually two displays with diagonals of 12.3 inches each. One display for the instrument clusters directly above the steering wheel and the other one as a central display over the center console. Through a glass cover, in the E-Class they blend to form a Widescreen Cockpit. Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Procurement & Supplier Quality, summarizes his impressions of the visit with Continental: ” Here one sees completely clearly: Germany is a high-tech location. Here are innovation and top quality at home.”

The partnership between Daimler and its supplier exists for over 100 years. In 1901 a Mercedes won a car race for the first time. Nice-Salon-Nice. Running on readless pneumatic tires from Continental. With 35 hp and nearly 90 km/h. In the 1920s Conti delivered the first display instruments. Motor racing duplex brakes for the legendary 1954 Silver Arrow and the first hydraulic brake boosters. A further high-tech milestone: The world’s first high-voltage lithium-ion battery for the S 400 HYBRID in 2009. And the collaboration continues: Components from Babenhausen will also be on board the next-gen compact cars and checks are currently being made on how Continental can support the electric initiative. So it’s looking good for the next 115 years of this innovative partnership.