Dec 11 2014
Fulda team Germany enlisted a special partner to heighten the success of its newest high-performance summer tire. Working with the luxury automaker Maybach, the team helped to develop a dramatically styled concept car — the “Fulda Maybach Exelero” as a showcase.
For the testing of high-performance tires, the company needed a car that was capable of exceeding the 350 km/h (217 mph) mark. A Maybach model had been built to serve as a test car for Fulda in the late 1930s (the original Maybach SW 38 Stromlinie captured the automotive world’s imagination in 1938 with its aggressive style and blinding speed) – and this connection was revived a couple of years ago.
The project team started working on the Maybach Exelero in 2003. It consisted of Mercedes-Benz engineers, who assumed responsibility for the engineering, of designers headed by Prof. Harald Leschke as well as two professors and four students from the Transportation Design department of Pforzheim Technical College. Nine months later, the draft of one of the students was selected for realization from a line-up of promising design proposals. This student had succeeded in creating the most elegant symbiosis of the related form languages of past and present car generations. After the model-building stage, the car was set up by the renowned producer of vehicle studies, Stola, based in Turin/Italy.
It was then that it was given its final name: Maybach Exelero. The denomination is an invented word formed from the Latin-Italian terms ex-cello/eccelso = sublime/illustrious/outstanding, and accelero = accelerated. The interior is dominated by materials such as natural leather, neoprene, coated perforated aluminum sheeting and high-sheen carbon-fiber surfaces in black and red. The car was completed in the spring of 2005 – a period of just 25 months had passed between idea and finish.
The Maybach Exelero combines the elegance and first-class quality of a high-end limousine with the silky-smooth power of a sports coupé. With an approximate weight of 2.66 tons and the dimensions of a small van a special tire was designed that not only coped with the above-mentioned weight, dimensions, and speed, but also gave the car safety, stability, and comfort.
The Exelero was based on the Maybach 57. However, the twelve-cylinder engine used in the Maybach sedan was not powerful enough for the envisaged top speed, despite its two turbochargers. Therefore, displacement was enlarged from 5.6 to 5.9 liters, and turbocharging was optimized. As a result, a power output of just under 515 kW (700 hp) and torque of around 1,000 newton meters were measured on the test rig – enough power for the car to reach the targeted 350 km/h mark. The powerful engine delivers his power to 23-inch rims that weigh just 23 kilograms (50 lbs), each crafted from a solid block of metal weighing 257 kilograms (566 lbs).
The final result was more than convincing: on May 1, 2005, racing driver Klaus Ludwig drove the Maybach Exelero fitted with Fulda tires with a maximum speed of 351 km/h (217.9 mph)(setting a new world speed record for limousines on series-production tires) on southern Italy’s Motodrom Nardo, a 12.5-kilometer (7.7-mile) circuit.
The test driver, Klaus Ludwig, a three-time German racing champion, said, “It was unbelievable how easily the vehicle could be handled at this record speed. Particularly, the tires conveyed an absolutely safe feeling. Everything was simply ‘just right’ — technology, chassis and tires.”
Fulda is marketing the Carat Exelero tire to sporty drivers who want to experience shorter stopping distances on wet roads, safer handling and lower noise. It’s available in 33 sizes and 39 versions, ranging from 15 to 23 inches.
The tire also has the benefit of being “certified” by Germany’s leading independent test institute, TÜV, for “performance and manufacturing” after detailed tyre tests and extensive production monitoring. The award is the first time the Munich-based organization has honored a tire manufacturer for an outstanding product.