2003

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  • 6 January 2003
  • Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) commences operations as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC). It is planned for DaimlerChrysler to take a 43 % share and Mitsubishi subsidiaries 15 %.
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  • 11 - 21 January 2003
  • Mercedes-Benz starts 2003 with three world and two US premieres at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan/USA: for the first time, the Stuttgart-based car brand presents the new estate model in the E-Class 211-series, the SL 600 twelve-cylinder sports car, and the F-Cell fuel cell vehicle based on the A-Class. The show also sees the North American launch of the new 4MATIC models for the C-Class and S-Class.
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  • 31 January 2003
  • DaimlerChrysler is awarded the Trust/OAS Award for Corporate Citizenship in the Americas from the Organization of American States (OAS) for its POEMA project. The prize is intended to reward in particular the ecologically compatible creation of jobs in the tropical rainforests of Brazil. Launched in 1992 with the help of Daimler-Benz AG, as the company was then known, the POEMA (Poverty and Environment in Amazonia) project in Belém, Brazil, is an example of successful, long-term cooperation between the University of Pará, local farmers, and the carmaker. Natural fibres are made from coconuts planted in the region, and these are processed locally into car seats, backrests, head restraints and sun visors.
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  • 6 - 16 March 2003
  • With the 209-series convertibles, the second all-new generation of the CLK Convertible celebrates its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. Top-of-the-range is the CLK 55 AMG with 270 kW / 367 hp. Other new products are the E 400 CDI with the eight-cylinder OM 628 diesel engine and an output of 191 kW / 260 hp and the CL 65 AMG with a 450 kW / 612 hp twelve-cylinder biturbo unit from the M 275 engine series.
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  • 23 March 2003
  • Kimi Räikkönen, successor to Mika Häkkinen on the McLaren-Mercedes team since 2002, wins the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang in an MP 4-17D to take his first Formula One victory.
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  • 24 March 2003
  • With the start of production of the new Actros, the DaimlerChrysler Commercial Vehicle Division continues its strategic product initiative. The flagship model among the heavy-duty trucks sets new standards for economic efficiency and customer focus. The new Actros generation replaces what has become the best-selling heavy-duty truck in Europe and was first introduced in 1996.
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  • 5 May 2003
  • The first Mercedes-Benz Citaro urban bus using fuel cell technology is handed over by DaimlerChrysler to the mayor of Madrid as part of the year's UITP Congress in Madrid. It is the first of three buses featuring the locally emission-free technology, which will be used by the Madrid public transport system for its demanding regular daily services.
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  • 5 May 2003
  • DaimlerChrysler Bank AG officially opens its new headquarters at Stuttgart's Pragsattel in the presence of Baden-Württemberg's Minister President Erwin Teufel and DaimlerChrysler Board of Management Chairman Jürgen E. Schrempp and presents its business figures and first fund product to the press.
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  • 9 May 2003
  • Mercedes-Benz presents to the press an entirely new family of vans as successor to the 638-series V-Class and Vito models. The vans that replace the V-Class are dubbed Viano, while the Vito vans continue to be offered under that name. Like their predecessors the new 639-series models will be built at the plant in Vitoria, Spain.
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  • May 2003
  • Binz GmbH & Co. KG in Lorch, Württemberg, commences series production of the lengthened chassis of the E-Class from the 211 series. As with the predecessor generation, Binz produces the lengthened chassis with partial bodies by converting bodyshells from the E-Class Estate, supplied without roof panelling, rear doors and tailgate by the Sindelfingen plant.
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  • 4 June 2003
  • The Mercedes-AMG M 113 ML supercharged 5.5-litre V8 engine wins the title in the new category "Best Performance Engine" at the "International Engine of the Year Awards". An international jury made up of 50 recognised motor journalists selects the best car engine designs in twelve categories each year for the presentation of the prestigious awards of the British trade journal Engine Technology International Magazine. The 350 kW / 476 hp to 368 kW / 500 hp eight-cylinder engine debuted in 2001 in the SL 55 AMG and since autumn 2002 is also available in the E-Class, the S-Class and the CL-Class.
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  • 30 June 2003
  • At its environmental press conference in Stuttgart, DaimlerChrysler AG presents the world's first synthetic diesel fuel which has no impact on the CO2 balance in the atmosphere during driving. Derived from the complete use of organic substances, the fuel releases the same amount of carbon dioxide upon combustion in the engine as is taken from the air during plant growth.
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  • 15 July 2003
  • MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH and RWE Fuel Cells GmbH, Essen, sign a joint venture agreement to advance their fuel cell activities jointly in future. The company is named MTU CFC Solutions GmbH. Its purpose is to effect the broad-based market introduction of carbonate fuel cell systems and to give the company a leading market position in the area of high-temperature fuel cells. RWE Fuel Cells takes a 25.1 % stake in MTU CFC Solutions GmbH, a legally independent company, previously a wholly-owned subsidiary of MTU Friedrichshafen.
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  • 21 July 2003
  • Mercedes-Benz is the first car brand in the world to offer for its bestselling diesel passenger cars the combination of EU 4 emission standard compliance and diesel particulate filter, initially for the C-Class and E-Class with four-cylinder CDI engines. In February 2004 the CDI six-cylinder of the E-Class and S-Class follows suit with EU 4 and diesel particulate filter. The diesel particulate filter developed by Mercedes-Benz requires no additives and remains effective over a very long operational life.
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  • 3 September 2003
  • Mercedes Benz presents the world's first series-produced seven-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars, with which the eight-cylinder models of the E-Class, S-Class, CL-Class and SL-Class are fitted as standard. The 7G-TRONIC combines lower fuel consumption and higher acceleration with further enhanced shifting convenience. It is an in-house development of Mercedes Benz, based on more than 40 years of experience with automatic transmissions.
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  • 7 September 2003
  • On the initiative of DaimlerChrysler AG and under the auspices of the European Union, a convoy of ten Mercedes-Benz Actros combinations carrying more than 200 tonnes of goods for reconstruction projects sets out for Afghanistan from Stuttgart. On the one hand, the purpose is to bring goods urgently needed for reconstruction efforts to Afghanistan; but the idea is also to show cost-efficient possibilities for transporting goods on the so-called TRACECA route (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) to Central Asia and at the same time subject the state-of-the-art truck technology to severe testing under demanding real-life conditions. After three-and-a-half weeks and 6000 km through the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia the convoy reaches its destination on 30 September.
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  • 9 September 2003
  • With the approval for sale of the Maybach 62 Guard, the high-end saloon is now also available as a special protection vehicle with integrated high protection. Delivery begins in mid-2004.
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  • 11 - 21 September 2003
  • At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main, Mercedes-Benz presents the near-series Vision CLS study and the SLR McLaren high-performance sports car (199 series) developed jointly with McLaren. Its new 460 kW / 626 hp 5.5-litre supercharged V8 engine from the M 155 series is built at Mercedes-AMG. Other premieres at the show include the 4MATIC variants of the E-Class saloons and estates (211 series), the E 55 AMG Estate and E 200 NGT. Based on the E 200 KOMPRESSOR with bivalent gas/petrol drive, this model is the most powerful production saloon to feature environment-friendly natural gas drive. Mercedes-Benz additionally presents a hybrid drive concept combining a V6 petrol engine with two electric motors and a nickel metal-hydride battery. Smart presents the four-seater model series forfour, the market launch of which takes place in April 2004.
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  • 5 October 2003
  • With his sixth place in the last race of the DTM season at the Hockenheimring, Bernd Schneider secures the championship title at the wheel of the AMG-Mercedes CLK-DTM. It is his fourth crown following wins in 1995, 2000, and 2001. Christijan Albers, also driving a Mercedes-AMG, takes second place in the championship. With a total of 237 points, Mercedes-Benz comfortably wins the constructors' championship, held for the first time, ahead of Abt-Audi with 93 points. The team award also goes to the Vodafone/ExpressService AMG-Mercedes team.
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  • 6 October 2003
  • DaimlerChrysler and ThyssenKrupp Automotive agree to cooperate in future in the field of steering gears and complete steering systems for motor vehicles. ThyssenKrupp Automotive is to acquire 60 % of Mercedes-Benz Lenkungen GmbH, Düsseldorf, in a first step. The second step, the acquisition of a further 40 %, is scheduled to take place in two years at the earliest.
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  • 9 October 2003
  • At the Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf plant, a representative of the world's biggest parcel service, UPS, takes delivery of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with fuel cell drive as test vehicle. On 19 May 2003, DaimlerChrysler AG, UPS and EPA, the US Environmental Protection Agency, agreed to cooperate in the practical testing of fuel cell powered vehicles in commercial delivery service.
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  • 12 October 2003
  • Kimi Räikkönen comes second at the wheel of the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-17D in the Japanese Grand Prix, the last race of the Formula One season in Suzuka, to finish runner-up in the drivers' championship – two points behind Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.
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  • 16 October 2003
  • The new Mercedes-Benz Actrosreceives the "Truck of the Year 2004" award at the BedrijfsautoRAI international commercial vehicle show in Amsterdam. With this award trade journalists from 19 European countries acknowledge the technical features that enable highest levels of driver concentration, the realisation of innovative safety concepts, new electronics concept and the reliability and economy of the new vehicle generation.
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  • 17 - 22 October 2003
  • The Mercedes-Benz Tourino midi touring coach is presented to the general public for the first time at the Busworld bus and coach show in Kortrijk, Belgium. The all-new Setra ComfortClass 400 touring coach series with models S 415 GT-HD and S 416 GT-HD, and the S 416 HDH three-axle touring coach, which complements the TopClass 400 range, receive their world premiere.
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  • 25 October - 5 November 2003
  • Mercedes-Benz presents the F 500 Mind research vehicle with diesel hybrid drive at the Tokyo Motor Show. A V8 diesel with 184 kW / 250 hp and 560 Nm is combined with an electric motor arranged between the internal combustion engine and modified automatic transmission. When starting off, parking, in stop-and-go traffic and at slow speeds the electric drive, which delivers 50 kW and 300 Nm, takes over and enables locally emission-free driving. The diesel engine engages only when more power is needed. The efficient division of labour reduces fuel consumption by around 20 %.
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  • October 2003
  • The coaches of the Mercedes-Benz Travego and Setra TopClass 400 model series are equipped as standard with the Electronic Stability Program ESP with immediate effect. The Setra ComfortClass 400 gets the safety system in spring 2004.
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  • October 2003
  • Three Mercedes-Benz Citaro fuel cell buses begin two years of trial operation in daily regular service in Iceland's capital Reykjavik under the EU-sponsored project "Ecological City Transport System" (ECTOS).
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  • October 2003
  • Together with UNESCO DaimlerChrysler initiates the "Mondialogo – Intercultural Dialogue and Exchange" project, whose purpose is to promote dialogue among young people of different cultural backgrounds and work for more understanding, respect and tolerance. The overall initiative comprises a worldwide school competition "Mondialogo School Contest", an international sponsorship award for young engineers, the "Mondialogo Engineering Award", and an internet portal with intercultural magazine in four languages.
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  • 4 November 2003
  • Three Mercedes-Benz Citaro urban buses with fuel cell drive are handed over by DaimlerChrysler to Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG. A day later these locally emission-free fuel cell buses go into demanding regular daily service on line 44. This allows approximately 4500 passengers who travel on the route each day between Schlossplatz and Westbahnhof to experience the innovative drive technology in everyday use.
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  • 14 November 2003
  • The one-millionth Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van rolls off the assembly line in the Düsseldorf plant. The arctic-white Sprinter 311 CDI crewbus with nine seats, high roof and auxiliary heater is donated by DaimlerChrysler AG to the World Childhood Foundation, founded by Queen Silvia of Sweden. The vehicle will be used at the Lithuanian Aids Centre in Vilnius to help with the social integration of young women and children.
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  • 17 - 19 November 2003
  • DaimlerChrysler announces a new public-private cooperation project on the occasion of the third Environmental Forum in Magdeburg, attended by more than 300 delegates from 20 countries. Aim of the project, planned in India, is to test the production of biodiesel from jatropha plants grown on eroded soil and to prepare for its subsequent use in internal combustion engines. Other positive effects are the creation of jobs and the reduction of CO2 emissions.
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  • 19 November 2003
  • The Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG consents to the sale of engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines GmbH, Munich, to the US financial investor Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR). The closing of the transaction, which is still subject to the approval of the DaimlerChrysler Supervisory Board and the antitrust authorities, takes place in December 2003. MTU Aero Engines will continue its programmes and joint ventures unchanged, especially the close strategic alliance with US engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.
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  • 4 December 2003
  • The first production engine to come off the assembly line at the Kölleda plant of MDC Power GmbH is a 1.3-litre petrol unit of the M 135 series. The compact injection engines will be installed in smart and Mitsubishi models.
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  • 17 December 2003
  • Mercedes-Benz presents an all-new 200 kW / 272 hp 3.5-litre petrol engine. As the first representative of the M 272 series, an innovative family of V6 engines featuring four-valve technology, it first sees use in the new SLK from early 2004.
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  • 18 December 2003
  • As part of a charity auction benefiting the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, the first unit of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is handed over at Christie's in New York to the car enthusiast with the successful bid. The highest bid in the "silent auction" that ended on 30 November was € 1.5 million.
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  • December 2003
  • After four years in development, a new clear coat which is much more scratch-resistant than conventional paint owing to advanced nanotechnology finds use at Mercedes-Benz. The E-Class, S-Class, CL-Class, SL-Class, and SLK-Class models are the first cars in the world to benefit from this innovative paint, while other Mercedes-Benz model series will also feature the more scratch-resistant nanocoating from the spring of 2004.
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