The evolution of comfort.
' Not only a technical revolutionary, but also a social revolutionizer. '
Whether you prefer to sit by the steering wheel or in the back-right seat, it is no longer of any social significance.
Grand Mercedes 770 (W07), 1938
Creating social distance
Orders given at the push of a button...
In the automotive democracy of the 1950s, the family man followed in the footsteps of the emperor and statesmen: as a customer he was king and as a driver he was the patriarch. The underprivileged status of the chauffeur morphed into the high esteem of the helmsman, representing the social elevation of the common man to democratic sovereign. This political context spurred on the new passion for driving, which had not been possible before the emergence of engines capable of sporty driving, easy-to-operate instruments and a protected and comfortable interior. The image of the vehicle interior was no longer shaped by social hierarchies, but family hierarchies. Slowly but surely women advanced in their battle to get in the driver’s seat.
The concept of being driven survived in the niche market of top-end vehicles, but only expressed in the form of enhanced size, comfort and fittings, while leaving the structure of the solidly forward-facing family car untouched. From the 1980s onward, the back seat of luxury sedans underwent a cultural recoding: it was no longer seen as a monstrance of the idle rich. Far from it – for the new top managers the luxury sedan became a symbol of hard work, capability and success. The rear compartment became an office, the back seat now had to act as a permanent display of those work ethics, which – for the first time – legitimized these expensive cars in the eyes of the general public.
... thanks to the mechanical signal system
Via the circuitous route of the office on wheels, the reversible front passenger seat made a return in 2007: in the F 700 concept car, the secretary could sit facing the boss with their back turned to the direction of travel. After hierarchies of class, family and capability, we now have the workplace hierarchy.
The interior of the F 015 differs from its long line of ancestors in that it does not specify what it should be used for. It can be used at the passengers’ convenience as an office, a meeting room, a games room or a family lounge. The egalitarian interior offers no basis for any kind of social hierarchy. Advanced technologies have broken the link between seat position and social standing. Whether you prefer to sit by the steering wheel or in the back-right seat, it is no longer of any social significance. With its status leveling interior, the F 015 demonstrates that it is not only a forerunner in technology, but also a mobile platform for co-existence on an equal footing.
Mercedes-Benz research vehicle F700, 2007