vation for helping it achieve continued business success, sharing its ideas with more than 200 journalists, analysts and investors from 24 countries.

According to head of Research Prof. Klaus-Dieter Vöhringer, the company is focusing on "differentiation through innovation." This technological strong point is often transformed into other qualities, such as safety. "Any expert understands that the market leader in safety issues must also be the technology leader, but the customer doesn't necessarily hear about that," said Vöhringer.

Vöhringer feels that the investment in innovation is justified, even if technical superiority demands long-term ground work and would ensure a competitive advantage of only one to three years. Research and technological potential may not add to the company's value on the balance sheet but are, in his opinion, of significant value to the company nonetheless.

Hans-Joachim Schöpf, head of Development for Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars and Smart, supported Vöhringer's view: in the past ten years, development productivity has doubled while the average development time for a new production series has been cut in half, despite the increasing complexity of the process. In just a few years, development time will be reduced by another 25 percent, according to Schöpf.

More than 80 percent of today's innovations are influenced by electronics. Schöpf expects that the development of passenger cars will adapt to the innovation cycles in the information technology sector: "In a few years, customers will be able to obtain new vehicle features or engine controls via software updates during the entire physical life span of their vehicle."

The company introduced two new fuel cell vehicles (NECAR 5, based on the A-Class, and Jeep Commander 2) yesterday in Berlin, thereby demonstrating the technology exchange that is taking place between Stuttgart and Auburn Hills. It has now presented the next stage of this technology-the first fuel cell (in this case installed in a go-cart) that creates electricity directly from the hydrogen carrier liquid methanol. This direct methanol fuel cell could one day replace the complex reformer, which the fuel cell vehicles presented yesterday use to create gaseous hydrogen from liquid methanol.

DaimlerChrysler is also focusing on hybrid vehicles. The company is rapidly developing hybrid vehicles for mass production, as the U.S. government appears determined to offset the high cost of purchasing a hybrid by providing incentives.

The company also remains on the e-business offensive. Just four weeks ago, it announced its "DCX NET Initiative," which is designed to transform DaimlerChrysler into a "networked company." Internet portals for vehicle brands have also been openly discussed at the Innovation Symposium. The company hopes to use these portals to strengthen customer contacts and increase customer loyalty by, among other things, offering them exclusive information.

DCX NET Holding has been provided with 550 million euro in capital stock. DaimlerChrysler also intends to increase the use of its Venture Capital Fonds, which received an additional injection of
US $100 million this year.