Bertha’s experience 130 years or so ago carries some intriguing parallels with today’s era of huge change. Just as we hover on the dawn of a new electric era, she helped lead the way to motoring as we have come to know it.
Bertha? Yes, Bertha Benz, wife of Carl, who is widely regarded as the ‘father’ of the automobile.
She decided to draw public attention to her husband’s invention by undertaking the first long-distance drive – to prove you could travel without ‘range anxiety’ (ring a bell with current electric car concerns?)
As Mercedes-Benz say today, the public then was still sceptical about the new horseless carriage moved by mysterious forces.
Bertha embarked on the difficult 100km journey to Pforzheim with her two sons, Eugen and Richard.
And now her story is being recounted in a four-minute film: ‘Bertha Benz: the journey that changed everything’. (Also playing a part is the legendary first filling station in the world.)
To mark her 170th (!) birthday on May 3, the movie tells of her historic journey, which it is hoped will serve as an inspiration to all – well beyond the celebrations of International Women’s Day.
“She was more daring than I,” Carl Benz said about his wife. As the inventor of the automobile, he revolutionised mobility of the 19th century.
Renata Jungo Brüngger, of Daimler AG’s Management for Integrity and Legal Affairs board, sees Bertha as a ‘trailblazer’ for the mobility (electric?) of the future.
“She knew that things have to be tackled with a positive attitude, even though success is not guaranteed from the start.”
Adi Ofek, CEO of Mercedes R&D Tel Aviv Ltd, says: “Life is about learning. About personal development. One usually learns from past errors”, she adds.