An Inside Look at Mercedes, McLaren’s 'Secret' Glass

Aug. 7, 2019
Mercedes and McLaren are now utilizing new glass technology from Research Frontiers, in an effort to, in part, improve gas mileage. And other automakers appear poised to follow suit.

Aug. 7, 2019—Mercedes and McLaren are now utilizing new glass technology from Research Frontiers, in an effort to not only lower cabin temperature but also improve gas mileage. 

According to Research Frontiers, a company based in Long Island, N.Y., the new glass technology can lower a vehicle’s cabin temperature by as much as 18 degrees. 

Research Frontiers has invested more than $100 million for what’s called SPD-Smart Technology— meaning a suspended-particle device—which it has licensed out to over 40 companies around the world. 

“It’s a film that we’ve invented that allows you to use nano-particle technology to control the tint of the glass,” Joe Harary, Research Frontiers’ CEO, told FenderBender, a sister publication of Ratchet+Wrench. “The voltage is so low and the power consumption is also very low. And, the main way it increases gas mileage is you’re using your air conditioning less to cool the car, so that can increase driving range, or [decrease] fuel consumption by about 5.5 percent.” 

In short, the technology works like this: electronically tintable glass developed by Research Frontiers — with patented SPD-Smart light control technology— changes the tint of any window, sunroof, or skylight by electrically aligning small particles in a thin film within the glass. With the touch of a button, users can instantly change or tune the tint of their glass to keep out sunlight. You can view a video of the product by clicking here

Currently, a Mercedes sunroof utilizing SPD-Smart Technology costs about $2,500, Harary says. 

Harary says independent mechanical repair shops can expect to see a steady stream of vehicles with SPD-Smart Technology by about 2020. He says Research Frontiers is in “active discussions” with 23 different automakers about the possibility of utilizing the glass technology. 

Harary is clearly proud of the product. 

“It blocks a tremendous amount of heat,” Harary says of the technology.

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