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Mercedes-Benz is restarting the "first modern car" as a heady EV concept

The latest concept car from Mercedes-Benz recalls that the company pioneered the concept of cars.

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The Vision Mercedes Simplex, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2019 at the end of last week, is essentially a modern reboot of the original Mercedes, the "35 PS" from 1901. Together with its successor, the original Simplex, the 35 PS helped start the era of the car, where the industry is thrown away from rickety, heavy wooden carriages that are subsequently equipped with engines.

Instead of stuffing many typical concept ideas into the new Vision Mercedes Simplex (as the company did with the Vision EQS concept announced last week, or the retro EQ Silver Arrow from last year), the automaker has remained fairly loyal to the original. Yes, a number of elements (such as the radiator) are rimmed in rose gold, and yes, the grid has been replaced by a display with "animations that provide information about the vehicle status," the company said. But the cockpit is the dream of a minimalist driver, with only a few small displays that the company says are focused on information that is essential for driving.

Exchanging an electric drive of any kind in the Simplex car style, which is more compact than modern cars, would give a ton of extra pep. And because it was already built to have a lower center of gravity than the other proto cars of its time, a new Simplex based on this concept would probably be a dream to drive.

There is something fascinating about the way Mercedes-Benz has chosen this specific Frankfurt motor show to introduce the Vision Mercedes Simplex concept. The show, which, like many other car shows, is in decline. It was also achieved with thousands of demonstrators who debated the need for cars in the face of a global climate crisis.

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In view of this reality, the Vision Mercedes Simplex might be a frivolous company. But if the future really consists of an overall reduction in the presence and influence of cars, and those who are becoming increasingly automated in their operation, I can see why car manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz may be trying to maintain a niche for people who still drive hell on the drive. And what better way to try than to breathe new life into the car that started everything?