1888 rang the great German autopionier with her long-distance journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim the transition from the horse-drawn carriage to the automobile. Today, 125 years later, a new system change is pending: this time away from the "old", polluting combustion vehicle to the environmentally friendly and sustainable automobile of the future. Bertha Benz would have liked that very much.
Because recently, the most important German car manufacturers are increasingly devoted to alternative drives. For example, the Volkswagen Group presented the electric eUp and the eGolf at the IAA, BMW the i3 and the i8, and next year 16 is already showing various alternative-powered models from German production. And the good news for those interested in sustainability: the prices for electric vehicles are already falling across the board.
Since Bertha Benz 1888 did not drive classic cars, but rather the most innovative vehicle of its time, years later 125 launched the Bertha Benz Challenge in honor of the IAA for the first time with the most modern vehicles of our time. The invitation was announced by Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). Ulrich Eichhorn, Managing Director of the VDA, Matthias Braun, Secretary General of the AvD, and Michael Johannes of the main sponsor Automechanika (Messe Frankfurt).
A television team from the Chinese State Television from Beijing even came to this spectacular starting shot. The organizer of the Bertha Benz Challenge, Edgar Meyer from Bertha Benz Memorial Route eV, pointed out to the Chinese team in an interview that there will not only be a Bertha Benz Challenge in Frankfurt in 2014, but at the invitation of Automechanika Shanghai (Messe Frankfurt) also the first Bertha Benz Challenge Shanghai. The Chinese reporters were absolutely delighted with this announcement.
The special interest of the Chinese television crew was the extraordinary prototypes that participated in the Bertha Benz Challenge IAA: the five futuristic electric "biiista" motorcycles from Austria, the completely redesigned and highly successful Twike TW4XP (by the way, just like Bertha Benz 'motorcar 3 wheels), the RIMAC Concept One with legendary 1.088 electric PS, and the MAHLE Range Extender demonstrator. Dr. Bernd Mahr of MAHLE Powertrain was very happy that so many interested people were relocating his serial hybrid. But also Mr. Piffaretti from Protoscar was in the center of attention with his Swiss Lampo 3 sports car, equipped with AKASOL batteries from Darmstadt (Lampo = Italian for lightning).
The State of Hesse enthusiastically showed the flag for electromobility and took part in the Bertha Benz Challenge with ten vehicles as a team “Hessen - Electricity moves”. The patrons not only stood for the importance of this event, but also showed that the mobility of the future will be approved across all parties: Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, Prime Minister Volker Bouffier, and Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann.
After the start of the IAA in Frankfurt drove the 40 participating vehicles to Mannheim. Here was Dr. Carl Benz 1885 invented the automobile, and from Mannheim Bertha Benz 1888 set off on her pioneering journey. From there we went on to Heidelberg, with entry into the famous garden of Heidelberg Castle, via Bruchsal to Pforzheim, the birthplace of Bertha Benz, and stage destination also their pioneer trip. On the return journey from Pforzheim to Mannheim, the alternative vehicles then made two quick but completely silent laps over the Motodrom of the Hockenheimring.
The great German car pioneer had to buy 1888 on the first automobile long-distance of history in the city pharmacy Wiesloch Waschbenzin, because gas stations did not exist yet. History is repeating itself, because the electric refueling stations required today for the 40 participants of the Bertha Benz Challenge are also not available. Therefore, the drivers of the electric cars were very happy that the Schletter company offered a perfect service with their mobile P-Charge charging stations.
Before 125, Bertha Benz brought humankind individual mobility, without which our modern world is hard to imagine. Their pioneering journey was so successful that today there are almost a billion motorists. The associated environmental impact has become so great that a new megatrend is required: individual mobility must become sustainable and environmentally friendly! And so the participants in the Bertha Benz-named Challenge not only see themselves as part of this megatrend, but as those who have made it their mission to push this megatrend worldwide.