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The audio companion for every journey: the car radio.

A smiling man sits behind the wheel of a van

From 15 kg devices to intelligently networked infotainment systems: The development of the car radio is both exciting and entertaining - A retrospective.

Road trip and radio – an unbreakable love.

The van is packed, the house closed up and locked. After a last look back, it is time to head out into the world and set off on an adventure. Get in, start the engine and – switch on the radio. What would a sunset on endless roads be without singing along with your favorite song? Although the radio has become commonplace today, it was once a luxury. It provides us with information, warns us of traffic jams and keeps us in a good mood with classic music and hits. In the 1960s, radio was regarded as the single most important source of information and music. So it is no surprise that people wanted radios in their vehicles.

Two people camping in front of a van at a lake

The most popular medium of the 60s: the car radio. No one wanted to go without entertainment and music while on the road.

A retrospective.

The history of the car radio goes back as far as the early 1930s: 400 units of the first model produced in Europe, the “Autosuper 5”, were built. The unit weighed an impressive 15 kg and required an absurd amount of energy. Due to a lack of power, the windscreen wipers could not be used at night when driving with the headlights and the radio switched on – to the annoyance of drivers when it rained. In addition, the car radio was a true luxury: With a price of around 465 German marks, it cost one third of the vehicle itself! The tone quality of the radios also left a lot to be desired. Because the medium wave AM and long wave LW frequencies often suffered from extreme interference. The breakthrough came in 1949: Blaupunkt developed the first device that could be inserted into the dash panel in the cockpit. Until then, radios were controlled via a Bowden cable near the steering column.

VHF provides improved sound quality.

When ultra-short wave radio (VHF/FM) was discovered in 1951, the car radio experienced a true boom. New musical styles such as rock ‘n’ roll became increasingly popular and people also wanted to hear this music while on the road. The “Automignon” developed by Phillips added further momentum to this expansion. This record player made it possible to play singles in the car. This technology formed the foundation for the cassette player released in 1968. In 1985, the CD player was launched, providing mobile entertainment on every journey. However, the expensive car radios appealed to more than just car owners. Thieves also developed an eye for them and countless devices were stolen out of cars. “Quick out” was the solution to the problem: A special clip enabled owners to simply remove the radio from the slot and take it with them.

View onto the dash panel trough the window

Anything but simple: the first car radios were not fitted in the dash panel but had to be operated using Bowden cables.

Connectivity via the board unit.

Today, car radios are by no means limited to simply playing music. Infotainment systems have now become predominant and offer numerous functions: Playing back CDs and all other common music formats from USB sticks or iPods, connectivity with navigation systems, driver assistance systems or hands-free systems almost become standard features – as in the new Sprinter. The third generation of the popular van will be released in 2018 and has a clear focus on intelligent networking. Service-oriented connectivity services paired with state-of-the-art telematics offer an unprecedented range of options: Special hardware for Internet connectivity enables users to access vehicle information such as the maintenance intervals almost in real time.

An infotainment system in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle

Infotainment systems have replaced simple radios: With numerous functions, they can do far more than simply play music.

A man gets bread rolls out of his van

Whether work or leisure: music played a key role in the 1960s and people wanted to listen to music at all times.

The top five podcasts for the road.

Mercedes-Benz adVANce, the strategy for integrated complete systems in new vans, offers numerous other benefits for commercial usage along with a number of useful functions for personal use. In need of a little inspiration? Here are the top 5 podcasts for exciting journeys in the new Sprinter:

This American Life

This American Life A weekly show that combines new topics with true stories. The show offers amusing anecdotes, deep emotions and unexpected confessions.

The Daily

Well-informed: 20 minutes full of everything you need to know today – daily from Monday to Friday.

Bald Move

Series fans watch out: A.Ron Hubbard and Jim Jones, two friends since childhood, talk about their favorite TV series and do not mince their words. Witty, honest and with a guaranteed spoiler alert.

Every Little Thing

Flora Lichtman’s thoughts are abstruse – just like her show. Featuring diverse stories such as why flamingos are capable of drinking boiling water and why no one ever comes across a live armadillo, she draws her listeners to her bizarre world of wild anecdotes.

The Bill Simmons Podcast

Bill Simmons had a clear idea: The people need a voice of their own. That is why he invites guests to his show who are less present in the media – and grills them in extra-long interviews.

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Photos: Kai Knörzer, divers, tsp, Daimler


Regardless of what job you have to tackle – the Sprinter will make your day-to-day tasks easier. And even if those tasks are weighty ones, together, you’ll move mountains. Thanks to a host of different variants and over 600 optional features, the Sprinter can meet a wide variety of requirements.

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