Lightweight design

All-aluminium.

Lightweight design

All-aluminium.

The body is produced in an aluminium alloy which makes the new Mercedes-Benz SL fuel-efficient and dynamic at the same time.

"As white as silver, as tough as iron, as fusible as copper and as light as glass."

Space travel pioneer Impey Barbicane in Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon"

With the bonnet open, the aluminium-alloy body-in-white of the Mercedes-Benz SL has the air of an altar to automotive engineering.

Aluminium, the miracle material.

Aluminium, the miracle material.

The French writer may have fantasised about many things, but he was to be proven right in his eulogy of aluminium. Aluminium is the most common metal in the earth's crust. It occurs solely bound in chemical compounds, however. Not until 1854 did it prove possible to extract the element by reasonably economical means.

Light as a feather yet exceptionally robust, tough, corrosion-resistant, easy to clean and soft enough to be formed into complex sculptures – no wonder aluminium quickly became recognised as a "miracle material". It was employed above all in jewellery. Medals and handicraft items were fashioned from aluminium and its price was higher than that of gold or platinum. Its use in the automotive industry was still a long way off.

A metal comes into fashion.

The MIG-welded rear-end floor of the Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster is robust and light in one, thanks to its honeycomb structure produced in an aluminium alloy.

A metal comes into fashion.

The metal duly began to be used in the field of art. The Bauhaus masters designed aluminium furniture for their modular home interiors. In the 1960s, fashion designer Paco Rabanne produced clothes from extremely thin aluminium sheeting. But ages had to pass before it became possible to use the material and process it in such an extravagant manner. Not until 1886 did the so-called Hall-Héroult process enable its industrial-scale extraction by means of electrolysis.

Worldwide production around 1900 stood at 5700 tonnes. Today, aluminium is the second most important industrial metal after iron. More than 50 million tonnes were produced worldwide in 2011. Much in the same way that glowing red steel stood for the industrial revolution, cool, silver aluminium is the symbol of modern times. It surrounds us in cars and aeroplanes. It is closely linked to the history of the mobile society.

By virtue of its almost sculptural appearance, the aluminium body of the Mercedes-Benz SL is not at all out of place among contemporary works of art.

Modern art.

Modern art.

The Silver Arrows marked the beginning of aluminium's success story in the automotive industry. The aluminium bodies of the new SL models see Mercedes-Benz remaining true to its traditions.

Lightweight design enhances performance and dynamics. The body is also superior to the predecessor's steel construction in terms of rigidity and safety.

40 percent lighter than steel.

The volume of the longitudinal members on the Mercedes-Benz SL's aluminium body serves as a resonance chamber for the bass speakers, providing first-class bass rendition with the Frontbass technology.

40 percent lighter than steel.

Today, the metal about which Jules Verne once enthused is the most effective lightweight material, as confirmed by a study conducted by the McKinsey consultancy. An aluminium wing is 40 percent lighter than its steel counterpart.

A corresponding part made of carbon fibre would be slightly lighter still, but almost 80 percent more expensive.

Far superior to steel.

Far superior to steel.

Despite its energy-intensive production process, aluminium offers vast potential for savings. A study by the US department of energy found that aluminium-intensive vehicles save up to twelve times as much energy during their life-cycles as is required to produce the material. The body-in-white of the new SL weighs some 110 kilograms less than its predecessor. Lower weight means enhanced dynamics and less fuel consumption. According to a rule of thumb, 100 kilograms less weight saves around 0.3 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

The aluminium body-in-white of the Mercedes-Benz SL weighs around 110 kilograms less than that of its predecessor.

The body-in-white of the new SL is

110 kg

lighter than that of its predecessor.

100 kg less weight saves

0.3 l

of fuel per 100 kilometres.

Over the vehicle's lifetime, this has a thoroughly positive effect on the frequency of visits to a filling station and saves money. Seen in this light, it is fair to chime in with Jules Verne's exclamation of "Hooray for aluminium"

Product changes may have been made since these photos and films were made.