2012 Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy Kicks Off in Europe
Mercedes-Benz courses are offered at 14 locations around Germany and are for young, beginners, advanced and expert drivers
by Jim Davis | 24 May 2012
Mercedes-Benz is starting the 2012/2013 season with a new wide-ranging program of driving safety training events designed to appeal to all types of drivers. Courses for young people, beginners, advanced and even expert drivers are being offered at 14 locations throughout Germany using vehicles generally provided by Mercedes-Benz – including saloons, coupés, roadsters or off-road vehicles.
The AMG Driving Academy is not only active in Europe though. Training events have also been held in America since 2009, and in China since 2010 – at the Laguna Seca Raceway (California) or the Shanghai International Circuit, for example. A totally new development is the AMG Driving Academy’s involvement in India: a kick-off event took place at the Buddh International Circuit against the backdrop of the Auto Expo in New Delhi in January 2012. Three further BASIC training courses will follow this year. Four BASIC training events and four ADVANCED training events will also be taking place in Italy for the first time this year. Events are also in the pipeline for AMG customers in Japan and Russia.
The goal of the events is to help drivers to handle their vehicles in a safer and more confident manner, even in emergency situations – and of course to ensure that they enjoy the experience of driving.
One fact confirmed by the accident statistics is that Mercedes drivers are involved in fewer accidents than drivers of cars made by other manufacturers. And this is an area in which the diverse range of driving safety training events offered by Mercedes-Benz can make a contribution. It is all part of the comprehensive safety philosophy of the brand with the star – which in addition comprises accident research and the development of trend-setting assistance and safety systems based on this research and which other automotive brands have also adopted.
Taking place at 14 on and off-road locations throughout Germany, the driving safety training events enable participants to learn how to be more aware of typical danger situations and to practise appropriate responses. By providing courses almost nationwide and at reasonable prices – the half-day basic compact training event for 18 to 25-year olds, for example, costs just 95 euros – Mercedes-Benz is aiming at as many car drivers as possible. Ultimately all road users are able to benefit from the confident car control practised during the training, not just Mercedes drivers. Any accident is one accident too many.
The target group for the various courses is correspondingly diverse, ranging from learner drivers to experienced professionals, and from sales training to events for professional drivers and chauffeurs. The sole requirement is that the driver must hold a class 3/class B driver’s licence.
According to Wolfgang Müller, Chief Instructor for Mercedes-Benz Driving Events: “We offer training events to meet a variety of different interests, so for example not only classic driving safety training sessions which can be aimed specifically at young drivers who are still a bit inexperienced, but also pure sports driving training events for highly motivated drivers.” The sports driving training sessions are not just geared towards fun but also towards driving safety. Anyone who is able to control a vehicle at its limits is more composed and considered in situations of danger. Another highlight is that the participants take part in the training using vehicles provided by Mercedes-Benz. This enables exercises to be incorporated which are considerably more dynamic. In addition, the instructors also have the opportunity to demonstrate how effective modern assistance systems can be – as a safety pioneer, Mercedes-Benz provides technologies in this area which are simply not available, or not yet available, in other vehicles. Almost the entire Mercedes-Benz model range is available for the training events.
In addition to extensive driving skills and experience, all of the instructors have the distinct ability to convey the various interconnected driving physics principles in such an easy-to-understand manner that the participants are able to apply them in practice in their everyday driving.
There are on and off-road events designed to take place both in the summer and the winter. The most important events include:
- Basic compact training: on this half-day course, participants find out how an accident can be prevented effectively. Exercises include full brake application combined with an evasive manoeuvre, and a slalom course. Compact training is also available as a reasonably-priced special training event for 18 to 25-year-olds.
- Basic training: as part of this one-day event, the participants learn how dangerous situations can be dealt with safely and confidently with support from active control systems. The demanding program of lessons includes taking evasive action without braking from 80 km/h, emergency braking and correcting skidding vehicles.
- Advanced training: this extension course provides additional solutions for dealing with hazardous situations at higher speeds – such as emergency braking at 100 km/h or controlling a rear-end skid on a wet bend.
- Enhanced training: here exercises are conducted at high speeds. For example, participants learn how to keep their vehicle under control during an emergency lane change manoeuvre at motorway speeds of 130 km/h. In addition, challenging drift exercises on famous race tracks are also on the agenda.
- Sports training: with this new training event, racing enthusiasts enjoy the unique opportunity to experience driving from the perspective of a racing driver. For example, they learn how to find the ideal line and optimum braking point.
- Eco training: during this half-day event, attendees take part in simple practical and theoretical exercises to learn how to reduce fuel consumption by handling their car more efficiently. On average, those who complete the eco training course subsequently use 15 percent less fuel.
- Professional basic training: this event enables professional drivers to enhance their driving skills. For example, the program includes performing an evasive manoeuvre at 100 km/h in a predefined direction through a set of traffic lights, emergency braking scenarios and correcting a tail-skidding vehicle at motorway speed, for example. Driving practice is complemented by theoretical exercises tailored to the specific profession with trainers who also instruct police taskforces.
- Mercedes-Benz Fascination Tour: this is a new addition to the range of Mercedes-Benz driving events. This one-day driving experience in vehicles provided by Mercedes-Benz features highlights focusing on the history and present status of the brand in Stuttgart and the surrounding area.
- Mercedes-Benz Fascination Experience: this event immerses participants in the world of Mercedes-Benz for two full days. A visit to the wind tunnel and test track at the plant in Untertürkheim is followed by a voyage of discovery around the Mercedes-Benz Museum and an evening meal together. On the second day, it is on to the training circuit with the opportunity to put the current model range through its paces in slaloming, braking and evasive manoeuvres.
- Off-road events: at a variety of off-road driving training events participants are able to discover what an off-road vehicle is capable of and how to keep such a vehicle under control both on and off the road. In addition to basic training, additional stages are available such as advanced training, enhanced training and extreme training. New additions include a range of winter off-road training events. In the spacious stone quarry outside Kitzbühel, participants are able to get to grips with difficult terrain at half or full-day training events using G, GL, GLK and M-Class vehicles.
- Travel Experience: discovering the world with Mercedes – this is what the participants in the Travel Experience event can expect to enjoy. There are trips to Abu Dhabi, for example, with its endless dune-covered landscape and perfect sandy beaches offering relaxation. Other trips of a lifetime include experiencing Spain from a different perspective or enjoying an off-road adventure in the wintry Arctic Circle. A particular highlight is the “Journey to the Roof of the World”: lasting some 47 days, it takes participants from Lodz in Poland all the way to India, travelling via Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.
- Enhanced Experience Sweden: a winter adventure without compromise comprising four days in Sweden, 22 hours on a frozen lake located 150 km south of the Arctic Circle, individual coaching sessions, a rally competition and much more.
The RoadSense road safety awareness program: a chance for 13-year-olds to get behind the wheel
The aim of the RoadSense road safety awareness initiative is to minimise the risks to which young road users are prone. As part of the RoadSense road safety awareness initiative developed by the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy, Year 8 pupils are allowed to get behind the wheel of a car under professional supervision and on handling circuits away from traffic. The 13 to 15-year-old students are not taught how to drive – it is about experiencing what it is like behind the wheel. The main emphasis is on typical conflict situations that may be encountered as a passenger and learning how to deal with these responsibly.
All types of schools can register with the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for their Year 8 classes to take part in the RoadSense road safety awareness program. Further information is available from Mercedes-Benz by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org , or online from www.mbdrivingacademy.com.
AMG Driving Academy: from the first experience of driving at the limit to intensive race circuit training
The AMG Driving Academy also provides a wide-ranging program of events which not only meet the most diverse requirements but also represent the very embodiment of pure excitement. Events on offer include enjoyment-oriented EMOTION tours, special winter driving training sessions in Swedish Lapland and exciting events on legendary racing circuits such as the North Loop of the Nürburgring, the Hockenheimring or Zandvoort. A particular highlight is the MASTERS program, at which participants are able to drive the SLS AMG GT3, the racing version of the gullwing model. A typical element of all AMG Driving Academy events is the unique, passionate performance experience which the participants are able to enjoy first hand in line with the AMG brand claim of “driving performance”.
As a world first and a unique offering not available from other providers, the AMG Driving Academy, which was established in 2007, is also able to offer climate-neutral dynamic driving events – thus proving that driving pleasure and concern for the environment can be combined perfectly.
The new program from the AMG Driving Academy comprises professionally designed training measures which will enable ambitious sports car enthusiasts to improve their individual control of their vehicles and enhance their active driving safety. All events staged by the AMG Driving Academy feature advanced training methods which guarantee a swift grounding in the basics of driving dynamics. Acquainting drivers with both their own limitations and their vehicles’ limits in a totally safe manner is also on the agenda. Another key focus is on thrilling driving experiences with exciting high-performance vehicles such as the SLS AMG, C 63 AMG Coupé Black Series or SLK 55 AMG.
Erstwhile Formula 1 driver Karl Wendlinger becomes new instructor
Karl Wendlinger (Austria) is a new addition to the team of professional instructors. From 1990 to 1991 the 43-year-old racing driver was a member of the Mercedes junior team competing in the World Sportscar Championship along with Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. In 1991 he switched to Formula 1. The AMG Driving Academy’s core team also includes DTM driver Susie Wolff, DTM championship record holder Bernd Schneider, and also Bernd Mayländer, the driver of the Official F1™ Safety Car. Racing driver Reinhold Renger remains in the post of chief instructor. In all, the AMG Driving Academy has 30 instructors on its roster.