100 Things You Should Know About Mercedes-Benz | #12

Daimler and Benz did not just invent the automobile, but the truck and bus as well.

"So who invented it? The Swiss!" The question and its answer stem from an advertising campaign for a particular brand of herb candy, but could apply just as well to things like the zipper, garlic press and coffee capsules. The cradle of invention for the automobile, however, lies a few kilometers further north, in the Baden and Württemberg regions of Germany: for Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, the founding fathers of what is today Mercedes-Benz AG, not only invented the auto, but also the truck and the bus.

3 min reading time

by Tim Holzapfel,
published on September 10, 2020

Virtually every child in southern Germany knows that Carl Benz, one of the founding fathers of today's Mercedes-Benz AG, is considered the inventor of the automobile for his development of the Benz Patent Motor Car in 1886. With an output of 0.75 hp, however, Carl Benz's three-wheeler had little in common with today's cars, since it resembled nothing so much as a horseless carriage. In the same year Gottlieb Daimler presented a very similar invention to the general public – this was already a four-wheeler automobile, which he described accordingly as a Motor Carriage.

However, Benz's Patent Motor Car and Daimler's Motor Carriage did not only lay the foundation for the triumphant march of progress of the automobile, but also for other, related inventions: indeed, the trucks and buses that ventured onto the roads just a few years later can also trace their origins back to our two automotive pioneers.

Not bad: The number of passengers that could be accommodated in and on the Benz Omnibus of 1895 was eight.
Not bad: The number of passengers that could be accommodated in and on the Benz Omnibus of 1895 was eight.

Nine years after the automobile first saw the light of day, Carl Benz created the first bus, on the basis of his four-wheeled Benz Patent Motor Car, the Victoria. The Benz Omnibus had space for eight people, whereby six passengers sat in two rows of three facing each other, while the driver and his front-seat passenger kept track of the - admittedly at that time relatively modest - traffic on the road from their seats in front of the closed body. In 1895, this first motorized omnibus covered the route between the town of Siegen in southern Westphalia and the villages of Netphen and Deuz, some 15 kilometers away. It took just under an hour and a half to cover that distance, probably largely also due to the fact that the passengers had little option but to climb out and push on hilly stretches to give the single-cylinder gasoline engine with its five horsepower a little extra impetus.

While the bus came about because of the requirement to carry several people at the same time from A to B, the motorized transport of goods was not being neglected either. In October 1896, Gottlieb Daimler and his company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) introduced the first truck to the market in the form of the "motorized goods vehicle", developed in collaboration with his fellow design engineer, Wilhelm Maybach. This vehicle, with an impressive payload of 1.5 tons and an engine output of 4 hp, was sold to a customer in London but ultimately served as the prototype for a whole range of different truck models produced under the DMG name. Among the main customers for those early trucks were breweries, which perhaps suggests that the "motorized goods vehicle" was not only satisfying a thirst for innovation in those days.

The first Daimler motorized goods vehicle of 1896 was equipped with a 4 hp engine and had a payload of 1.5 tons.
The first Daimler motorized goods vehicle of 1896 was equipped with a 4 hp engine and had a payload of 1.5 tons.

At the very latest by the time the DMG merged with Benz & Cie. in 1926, the very promising product portfolios of Daimler and Benz were together under one roof. It was not until 2019, a year before the 125th anniversary of the first omnibus , that Mercedes-Benz supplied its bus number 55.555. Each year, Daimler Trucks produces around half a million vehicles. The demand for commercial vehicles has grown so exponentially since the end of the 19th century that, these days, we can no longer imagine a world without the inventions of Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler.

Which brings us back to the Swiss and the slogan from the herb candy advertising that was mentioned at the start. A lot of people in southern Germany could no doubt also easily identify with this, if it were to be adapted slightly: "So who invented it? Daimler or Benz!"

In this column we present interesting, odd, or generally unknown facts from the world of Mercedes-Benz. We publish a new story in the series of “100 things you should know about Mercedes-Benz” regularly here on Mercedes-Benz Magazine.

Tim Holzapfel

sadly doesn't have the technical aptitude to come up with trailblazing inventions. His creative input is therefore for the most part immortalized in writing – preferably on our corporate website daimler.com.

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