120-year anniversary of a name — Mercedes, the girl and the brand

(April 3, 2020) 120 years ago, the name of an 11-year-old girl became the epitome of cars and the first luxury car brand in the world. On April 2, 1900, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft decided to call its automobiles Mercédès, after the daughter of Emil Jellinek. The Austrian businessman, who lived in Nice, traded in Daimler vehicles and registered them for racing events.

The first vehicle with this melodious Spanish name — the Mercedes 35 PS — caused a sensation at the Nice race week as early as March 1901. This was not only because of its highly advanced technology — allowing it to win several races there — but also because of its exceptionally elegant design. The Mercedes 35 hp is regarded as the prototype of the modern automobile and, with its progressive vehicle architecture, has become a model for the entire automobile industry. Paul Meyan, then Secretary General of the Automobile Club of France, said after the race week: “We have entered the Mercedes era.”

Mercedes Jellinek, aged 11

From then on, the curved “Mercédès” lettering adorned the radiators of Daimler passenger cars. The name was registered as a trademark on June 23, 1902, and legally protected on Sept. 26, 1902. Since then, the brand name — which was changed to Mercedes-Benz after the merger of the Daimler and Benz companies in June 1926 — has been both an expression of and a commitment to luxury and innovation.

Like no other automotive company, Mercedes-Benz knows how to combine beauty and elegance with performance and technology. Moreover, the secret to the success of the current Mercedes-Benz design is the combination of intelligence and emotion.

Mercedes Jellinek behind the wheel of a 1906 race car

Gorden Wagener, chief design officer Daimler Group: “Our quest for the perfect realization of luxury and the driving of innovation is part of our brand DNA. It forms the basis of the sustained success of our brand. Our design will turn cool-looking technology and emotional staging into a desirable experience, as is currently the case with the new compact GLA or the progressive EQC, for example.”

To this day, Mercedes-Benz is the only automotive brand that bears a female name. "Women like Mercédès Jellinek or Bertha Benz shaped the success story of Mercedes-Benz from the start," says Bettina Fetzer, head of Marketing Mercedes-Benz AG. “With our She’s Mercedes initiative, founded in 2015, we are building on this tradition for our numerous female customers around the world. The future of Mercedes-Benz will combine sustainability and luxury in a fascinating way."