The F 500 Mind marked an important step in Mercedes-Benz future direction concerning hybrid drive technology.
Featuring a powerful, yet economical diesel hybrid system, the F 500 Mind consumed up to 20 percent less fuel (in the New European Driving Cycle) than with a comparable CDI engine. The V8 diesel engine was combined with a powerful electric motor, switched on and off by an electronic controller in response to traffic conditions and driving style – used when moving off, for example, or in stop-and-go traffic where the inherent operating principle of the diesel engine prevents it from running at optimum efficiency. The 300 V lithium-ion battery, located under the passenger compartment, recharged during braking. However, analysis of the results of the testing carried out by the F 500 Mind revealed that longer distance running actually return poorer fuel economy than with a conventional diesel engine. This would lead to the development of the “Dual-mode” hybrid.
The design brief of the F 500 Mind had two principal objectives, provide a significant improvement in interior space and integrate the central pillar as a key structural and safety element instead of full-size B-pillars. The interior, with its contrasting seating zones reflects the fact that this was a research vehicle, the right-hand section serving as the work area for a member of the research team.
The doors opened in two different ways: either conventionally (the doors open forwards) or from the centre (the "butterfly principle"). In the latter mode, the shortened B-pillar moved backwards with the rear door to provide a wide opening for occupant entry and exit.