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Mercedes' latest high-tech concept car is a throwback to 1901

A digital grille and projected displays would replace vintage parts.
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Many of Mercedes' concept cars are focused squarely on the future, but its newest example goes back in time even as it aims to go forward. The automaker has unveiled a Vision Mercedes Simplex concept car that hearkens back to the 1901 Mercedes 35 PS, billed as the "first modern car," while relying heavily on modern technology. The absence of a gas engine (the powerplant is described only as an "alternative drive") is really the least surprising thing here -- it's the cabin and nose that are the real standouts.

The grille has been replaced by a "3D display" that both displays the vintage Mercedes logo an, more importantly, displays the car's status at a glance. The cockpit, meanwhile, sticks to the minimalist look of very early cars through projections that display context-sensitive info like speed and navigation. You could focus your attention on driving your retro ride instead of processing a sea of information. Porsche, take note.

You're unlikely to see a production version of the Simplex. It doesn't even have a windshield or a rated power output, let alone the equipment needed to pass modern safety standards. This is more an illustration of how Mercedes could recall its roots without giving up present-day creature comforts. Don't be surprised if you see the projections and other elements find their way into road-going cars, even if it's in a limited form.

Vision Mercedes Simplex concept car interior

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