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engine size. Focusing on the premium market, and taking the S- Class as a strong example of a status symbol, how will this market evolve? What will the next- generation of Mercedes- Benz customers want? How do they want to be represented? What will their values be, their real lifestyle? Seeing Time magazine' s cover from December 2005, with a picture of perhaps the richest man in the world ( Bill Gates) alongside a Rock Star ( Bono) combining their efforts in the name of charity was a clear indication of who the New Elite will be. Confirmation of individuals in the group came in a later edition, showing the chilled- out " Google Guys" at work in T- shirts, and more recent pictures showing President Obama in baseball cap and trainers on a Sunday. The parameters of cool and status are changing. The stiff look of the old Elite has become slowly unfashionable. The New Elite, rather than expressing themselves through an ostentatious display of economic power and wealth, will prefer to be respected for their forward thinking, which includes their environmental consciousness. The marketing and design potential behind this change in the attitude and mindset of this New Elite is enormous: the stereotypes need to be restructured, making fewer generalizations about age, taste, profession and class. A car for future generations Despite their new environmental consciousness, people spend more of their time in cars and this fact opens up a series of considerations regarding comfort and new in- car activities ( dining, connecting with people, relaxing and work). The F700 is dedicated principally to the comfort and " Parameters of cool and status are changing"

wellbeing of its passenger ( in many cases the owner, considering many buyers will probably have a driver), who wishes to relax in an ultra-comfortable and personalized living space. These values become one of the main expressions of luxury. The passenger seat ( called REVERSE- SEAT for its ability to provide two seating positions) is an important feature of the F700, abolishing the convention of front and rear. The design language of the F700 interior is subtle, referring to a sober luxury that invites relaxation and provides extreme versatility and functionality; an expression of absolute comfort. The cork ( used in the top of the tunnel and on parts of doors and roof) and the wavy carpet give a warm, natural feeling. The central tunnel with sushi bar and tea- cups introduces in- car dining in an appropriate way. The dimensions of the F700 ( the concept is the size of a limousine) suggest an interurban use, as does the engine ( the DIESOTTO drive system uses conventional fuel to give good performance but with very low consumption). In this context the goal was to have the most efficient overall process, in terms of low energy use and reduced CO2 output. The challenge for a Mercedes- Benz Research Car is to highlight the company' s evolving brand values. Mercedes- Benz is traditionally recognized for quality as well as excellence. In the past that meant mechanical excellence. But now, in a New Age, with a New Elite whose focus is on sustainability and who demand " green luxury", the shift for Mercedes- Benz should now be to achieve " ecological excellence". THE VEHICLE REVIEW more information? click here!