The five most exciting test sites. | Mercedes-Benz Vans
A aerial shot of the Mercedes-Benz Immendingen test track

Extreme tests for more safety: the five most exciting Mercedes-Benz test tracks.

The Mercedes-Benz test tracks are surrounded by a certain mysticism. Precisely what happens behind the gates of these facilities fires the imagination of even dyed-in-the-wool three-pointed star enthusiasts. Time to lift the curtain.

1. Untertürkheim test track.

As so often in the history of Mercedes-Benz, everything begins in Untertürkheim. Back in 1957 our oldest-serving, infamous test track, went into operation. The test facility is directly adjacent to the Development department at Headquarters. Exclusive prototypes are put through their paces here before their market launch. Their diverse equipment rendered additional test tracks superfluous for a long time. The legendary steep turn challenges the laws of physics: an incline of up to 90 degrees is even possible at full speed here. But it is not just about the speed in Untertürkheim. There is also a sprinkler system for extensive wet testing. Extreme torsion areas, ramps and skid plates bring both passenger cars and vans to their limits in a targeted manner. In addition, in the wind section, 16 powerful turbines simulate up to 100 km/h side wind simultaneously.

The world's roads at home in Untertürkheim.

Skid plate on the test track at the Untertürkheim plant with concentric rings of different road surfaces which simulate actual stretches of road.

The test protagonists.

Since the 1970s Mercedes-Benz has increasingly been testing different drive concepts – the fleet of the test vehicles is correspondingly large.

Crosswind track.

16 large turbines simulate side winds with a speed of up to 100 km/h on the test site.

2. Development and Test Centre (EVZ) in Wörth am Rhein.

After the turn of the century Mercedes-Benz began looking for test sites off the road. The aim was for the new site to establish commercial vehicle testing in Europe. Wörth am Rhein was chosen in 2008. In the three-year construction phase, natural scenarios were reconstructed over a space of 550,000 square metres: numerous man-made mounds and more than 17,000 bushes and trees planted set the scene of the terrain. There are numerous rough road tracks and a test track of one to two kilometres full of obstacles. Here the focus is placed firmly on simulations which resemble real conditions as closely as possible. 

Extensive terrain in Wörth.

The control station from which all tests are monitored is located directly at the test tracks.

3. Immendingen Test and Technology Centre.

Networking, fully automated driving, electromobility: the requirements concerning the car of the future make it necessary to completely reconfigure test tracks. Since 2015 there has been such a Test and Technology Centre in Immendingen. On a disused barracks site, surrounded by dense forest and with an overall area of 520 hectares. After a construction time of just three years there are now more than 30 different test and monitoring tracks here. The Immendingen test track impresses above all with its extreme size and the versatility that brings. It enables diverse traffic scenarios to be simulated: for example a drive on Alpine pass roads, wide, multi-lane roads in the North American style and also the dense stop-start traffic of a major European city.

4. Vaitoudden Test Centre.

Whilst the Vaitoudden Test Centre is not an in-house site, Mercedes-Benz does like to travel to unusual testing grounds all over the world. The small community of Arjeplog near the Arctic Circle is a frequent destination. For example, on the world's largest winter test track in Vaitoudden, the Mercedes-Benz eVito was subjected to an acid test in extremely cold conditions. In a landscape of frozen lakes the battery-electric drive van was able to prove the suitability of its battery performance, charging process and road adhesion on an icy road surface at temperatures down to -30 degrees. Even in this deserted wilderness, inquisitive paparazzi pop up out of nowhere, trying to catch a glimpse of the coveted prototypes before market launch.

5. Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety in Sindelfingen (TFS).

There is something very special in Sindelfingen: the only one of our test centres not located in the open air. And there is a good reason for this. To serve accident safety, the Mercedes-Benz test engineers have been really letting things go with a bang here since 2016. In the hall measuring 55,000 square metres, vehicles are brought to an impact frontally and vertically on tracks measuring as much as 200 metres in length. There is a long tradition of crashing at this site. Long before the TFS was built, Mercedes-Benz carried out the world's first crash test in 1959 in Sindelfingen. Construction of the surreal-looking driving safety centre took around three years. One reason for the long construction period was that all the tracks had to be completely even in order to retain precisely reproducible data in the end. Thanks to some masterstrokes of structural engineering, the tolerance of the floors is merely an incredible five millimetres per 100 metres.

Driving Safety Technology Centre.

The building is located at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in Sindelfingen.

Secret insights.

Preparations must be made under precise guidance before a crash.

Shortly before the crash simulation.

An employee of the TFS prepares a dummy.

Component testing.

At the four sled facilities, processes such as the development and fine-tuning of restraint systems such as seat belts takes place.

Run-up track.

A total of four crash tracks are housed in the new Driving Safety Technology Centre. They can be operated independently of one another


Juliane Schmid, Daimler Global Media