Mercedes-Benz Vans’ strategic future initiative adVANce focuses on six areas of innovation: Networking and Internet of Things applications (IoT) which enable optimal integration of a wide variety of digital technologies in vans from Mercedes-Benz Vans (digital@vans). "Innovative hardware solutions" are aimed at continuously improving the loading space (solutions@vans), and Mercedes-Benz Van Rental marks the first time a brand concentrates exclusively on van rental (rental@vans). Innovative sharing services have also been developed (sharing@vans), and the importance of autonomous driving for transporting people and goods in the future has been recognised (autonomous@vans). Another field of innovation is electrification (eDrive@vans).
The objective of the activities in these areas of innovation is to identify innovative solutions for current and future requirements by involving customers and users, to quickly develop them to market maturity and to create previously unachieved added value for customers in terms of efficiency, speed and sustainability.
In the digital@vans field, the focus is on networking the latest technologies with vans. Among other things, Mercedes-Benz Vans is working on intelligent parts management systems for technicians', craftspeople's and builders' vehicles that include automated reordering processes and deliveries directly to the van.
The rental@vans field concentrates on the rental of vans, in particular also on the development of innovative rental models, for example based on the pay-per-use approach.
A first example in the area of sharing@vans for the development of innovative sharing services is the joint venture with the US start-up Via, which was successfully launched in Amsterdam in April 2018. Since then, ViaVan has also been launched in London and as of the beginning of September 2018 – together with BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) – in Berlin; further cities will follow successively.
The solutions@vans area is concerned with innovative hardware solutions that pursue the goal of continuously improving the loading space with its logistics and adapting it to the changing demands of the transport industry.
The innovation field eDrive@vans is developing a comprehensive approach to electromobility. This not only involves the powertrain, but also developing charging infrastructure solutions and advising customers.
With the URBANETIC vision, Mercedes-Benz Vans is expanding its adVANce strategy to include the autonomous@vans innovation field. This underlines the great importance the company places on autonomous driving for the transport of people and goods in the future – and thus also the role as a game changer for existing business models. The addition of autonomous@vans is another important and consistent step for Mercedes-Benz Vans towards becoming an integrated mobility provider.
The universe of our customers is changing dramatically and rapidly. We are getting ready for this early and comprehensively. We are expanding our business division strategy to go beyond the product, we are adapting our organisation and cooperation models, and we invest in our innovative power.
Opening up through adVANce – New ways of working with start-ups
The adVANce strategy also includes opening up and, for example, working together with young and up-and-coming start-ups. The aim of cooperation with young companies is to enter into long-term cooperation and develop ideas in the six adVANce fields of innovation.
"We walk embark on this road of change with full conviction. With adVANce, we clearly demonstrate that we are not satisfied with what we currently have," explains Volker Mornhinweg. "Pioneering spirit and determination have always driven us forward and will continue to do so. We are able to combine our strengths and the know-how we have built acquired over the course of decades with new perspectives, working methods and ideas. We have found a holistic approach that keeps pace with changing requirements – and will even be a step ahead of them."