March 1, 1907
Hirtenberg, Lower Austria, Austria, Austro-Hungarian Empire
|Died||May 30, 1997
|Education||Privatfachschule für Maschinenbau und Elektrotechnik, Vienna, Austria|
|Relatives||Friedrich Barényi (aviation pioneer) (brother), Seraphin Keller (industrialist) (great-grandfather), Fridolin Keller (industrialist) (grandfather)|
Béla Barényi (1 March 1907 in Hirtenberg, Austria – 30 May 1997 in Böblingen, Germany) was an Austro-Hungarian engineer, of Hungarian heritage and Austrian heritage (from his father's and mother's side, respectively). He is regarded as the father of passive safety in automobiles. He was born in Hirtenberg, Austria near Vienna, Austria during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father Jenő Barényi (1866–1917) was a Hungarian officer, a teacher at the military academy at Pressburg, a former Hungarian capital (known in Hungarian as Pozsony, now more commonly as Bratislava since the creation of Czechoslovakia following World War I and the Treaty of Trianon).
Barényi was known as a prolific inventor. There have been claims that, when he retired on 31 December 1972, he had more than 2000 patents, twice as many as Thomas Edison; and claims that Barényi had over 2500 patents by 2009. However, the claims include patents filed in multiple countries for the same invention, which are not separate inventions. Barényi's patent count documented at the European Patent Office is 1,244 worldwide with 595 of those filed in Germany, the primary filing country of his primary employer.
After mechanical and electrical engineering studies at the Vienna college, he was employed by various Austrian automobile companies: Austro-Fiat, Steyr and Adler automobile companies before joining Daimler-Benz in 1939. Dr Wilhelm Haspel, a member of the board of management was won over by Barényi’s conviction during his job interview. Barényi, explained in detail how conventional steering, steering column, steering wheel, suspension and body should, in his opinion, be changed in order to enhance safety for the car's occupants. Haspel hired Barényi, justifying his decision by saying, “A company like Daimler-Benz can’t afford to live hand to mouth. Mr Barényi, you are thinking 15 to 20 years ahead. In Sindelfingen you’ll be working in a world apart. Whatever you invent will go directly to the patent department.”  Heading the pre-development department of Daimler-Benz from 1939 to 1972, he developed the concept of the crumple zone that he first came up with in 1937, the non-deformable passenger cell, collapsible steering column, safer detachable hardtops etc. and other features of Mercedes-Benz automobiles.
He is also credited with having conceived the basic design for the Volkswagen Beetle in 1925, five years before Ferdinand Porsche claimed to have done his version. Barényi was nominated for the award of Car Engineer of the Century in 1999 and inducted into the Detroit Automotive Hall of Fame in 1994.
Barényi died in Böblingen, Germany. A Mercedes advertisement featuring Barényi’s image stated: “No one in the world has given more thought to car safety than this man.” Béla Barényi left a broad record of his inventions to Technisches Museum Wien in Vienna in his native country Austria.
- "Barényi Béla, "autóbiztonsági szakértő"". Sulinet (governmental educational site in Hungary) (in Hungarian). Archived from the original on 2008-01-15. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
- Boros, Jenő (2003-07-02). "Barényi, a halhatatlan". Népszabadság (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2008-06-24.
- "100 éve született Barényi Béla, a passzív biztonság úttörője". Magyar Televízió. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "65 évvel ezelőtt vette kezdetét a Mercedes-Benznél a személygépkocsik biztonsági fejlesztése". Autó-Motor (automotive magazine) (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Prof. h.c. Béla Barényi". German Patent and Trade Mark Office. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
- "Inductees: Béla Barényi". Automotive Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2009-11-01. Retrieved 2006-05-20.
- ATZ online: 100th Birthday of Béla Barényi: "when he retired on 31. December 1972, he already had more than 2000 patents, twice as many as Edison". "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
- Inventor's gallery: Béla Barényi's inventions resulted in more than 2,500 patents... http://www.dpma.de/ponline/erfindergalerie/e_bio_barenyi.html
- Worldwide Patents of Béla Barényi
- German Patents of Béla Barényi
- Eckermann, Erik; Peter L. Albrecht (2001). World History of the Automobile. p. 181. ISBN 0-7680-0800-X. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
- Robinson, Aaron; Morgan J. Segal (August 2006). "1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL - Feature". Car and Driver. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
- His thesis anticipated the key design principles of the VW in 1925/1926. ("Mit seiner Abschlussarbeit zu den Grundlagen des späteren Volkswagenkonzepts (Zentralrohrrahmen mit Boxermotor im Heck und Stromlinienkarosserie in Pontonbauweise) nahm er bereits (1925/26) entscheidende Konstruktionsmerkmale des VW vorweg.") – From: Niemann: Barenyi, Bela.
- "MERCEDES ENGINEER ENTERS AUTOMOTIVE HALL OF FAME; BELA BARENYI ACKNOWLEDGED AS FATHER OF AUTOMOTIVE SAFETY". The Free Library. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- "Béla Barényi". Hall of Fame Inductees. Automotive Hall of Fame. 1994. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- Bernhard Flieher: Technisches Museum: Wie ein Motor verschwindet[permanent dead link]. In: salzburg.com, Salzburger Nachrichten, February 16, 2010, accessed September 16, 2011.
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