Today, DaimlerChrysler Group opens its biggest-ever brand experience centre site, adjacent to the world’s oldest purpose built racing circuit in Weybridge, Surrey. Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands is yet another significant ‘first’ from the inventor of the automobile, and it becomes the largest automotive development of its kind in the UK.
DaimlerChrysler has already opened five similar brand experience centres across the world as part of its global strategy to bring its brand closer to consumers, but Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands is by far its largest to date and is unique in two ways: its intrinsic historical links with the site on which it stands (Mercedes won on the opening race day at Brooklands in 1907), and the ‘hands-on’ driving experiences that will be available on the 2.5km handling circuit and the 10 acre off road terrain course. To date, this is the most ‘complete’ experience centre for the Mercedes-Benz brand and is the first of its type amongst automotive manufacturers in the UK.
Centrepiece to the Mercedes-Benz World development is an impressive three-storey 16,650m2 building which houses an experiential and interactive world which immerses visitors in the passion, heritage, values and innovation of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Sitting alongside over 100 Mercedes-Benz models are brands such as smart, Maybach and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
Ahead of the official opening of Mercedes-Benz World, Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management DaimlerChrysler and Head of Mercedes Car Group said: “The automotive world is a highly competitive one and the success of all brands is constantly under attack. As manufacturing and design standards have risen in all cars, brand differentiation becomes more and more difficult. The opening today of our new brand centre in the UK marks another important milestone in our history, and enables our customers to appreciate just what it is that makes our brands and product very special.”
There are several brand attractions to entertain visitors: ‘Build’ – a 3D simulator ride which takes you along the production line of a Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class; ‘Solve’ – an interactive problem-solving laboratory; a Brand Gallery showcasing a number of iconic cars including the legendary 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé as well as a gourmet restaurant, café, boutiques a dedicated KidsZone aptly named ‘Play’ and a range of conference facilities for up to 300 delegates.
Mercedes-Benz World expects to attract 300,000 visitors a year. Wilfried Steffen, President and CEO of DaimlerChrysler UK added: “Mercedes-Benz World is not just for petrolheads, it has been designed with the whole family in mind. We want to engage people with the innovations and stories that have shaped automotive history and ignite young people’s passion for the future. At Mercedes-Benz World it’s not just the grown-ups who can take to the tracks but youngsters too will be given their very first taste of driving.”
Within a construction time of just two and a half years, DaimlerChrysler has transformed the dilapidated 155 acre site, which includes stretches of the original Brooklands track (now a listed Ancient Monument) into a facility which can be enjoyed by the whole local community.
Integral to the development have been the construction of a flood compensation scheme which will offer flood protection from the River Wey to local homes and businesses, and the regeneration of a 60 acre community park – the latter will be handed back to Elmbridge Borough Council following the opening of Mercedes-Benz World. Sections of the original Brooklands circuit have also been rescued from further decay and the famous Railway Straight has been re-opened after 50 years.
Wilfried Steffen continued: “I like to think that the opening of Mercedes-Benz World will benefit the whole local community and has enhanced this historic site. We hope that local people will once again enjoy the community park and appreciate the facilities that Mercedes-Benz World has to offer.”
Mercedes-Benz World will open to the public on 29 October. It will be open from 10am to 7pm, seven days a week (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and admission is free. There will be additional charges for Driving Experience packages.