In 100 years, will the Model S be looked at the same way as the Model T?
Apple has the whole tech launch thing down to a science. Get on stage, talk about the marginal improvements they made to an existing piece of tech, and gooey-eyed consumers line up in front of stores overnight. Things aren't so simple when it comes to cars. The fact is that technology moves at breakneck speeds and it's tough to find ways to integrate new tech into cars without making it distracting, overbearing, or redundant. Instead, manufacturers spend billions of dollars and countless hours on research.
This way they can successfully be the first to release the next revolutionary piece of tech that no one else thought about. Mercedes has a good record of success when it comes to this. The top of the food chain S-Class is known for being loaded with as many miles of wire as the miles of land it took to raise cows for its leather interior. Mercedes' mantra with the S-Class is to think about what the consumer wants before they know they want it. Subsequently, the German marque tends to debut technology on the S-Class that ends up as standard on everyday cars of the future. The S-Class is basically a crystal ball that one can peer into and glimpse the future of cars.
The present army of normal cars have adaptive cruise control, voice recognition, ambient lighting, front collision mitigation, park assist, keyless entry, and more. All of these features were available on the now ancient 2002 S-Class. The current S-Class has had a harder time topping these features, but it does have new toys to brag about. Screens have replaced gauges on the dash, the suspension has a feature allowing the car to lean into corners, passengers can enjoy Wi-Fi connectivity, and the driver can see the road in the dark using night vision cameras. While none of these features are revolutionary, they do give us a glimpse into what technology will reside in the cars of 2025.
For all of the S-Class' innovation, hesitation let another revolutionary company get ahead of Mercedes' tech dominance with groundbreaking autonomous driving abilities. Due to legal concerns, an uneasy public, and the need for the technology to improve, Mercedes don't want to take a gamble just yet. Enter Tesla, one of the few automakers that has proved they aren't afraid to take risks. After all, intelligent risk-taking is what has made the company so successful. This, along with the fact that Tesla has the most sophisticated self-driving system, is why the brand has been the first automaker to integrate autonomous driving into their highly advanced cars.
The combination of autopilot with their seemingly seamless integration of all dash functions onto a large center screen mean that the Model S may have taken Mercedes' spot as fortuneteller. Other established automakers like Porsche have divided their time between copying Tesla's recipe and developing better autonomous driving systems. It hopes to take back the sales that Elon Musk has stolen from them. This willingness to take a risk on a breakthrough technology and reinvent a market segment makes the Tesla Model S one of the most impactful cars of the last decade.