Mercedes-Benz Vans has evolved from being a pure manufacturer of vehicles to becoming a supplier of holistic transport and mobility solutions. Driving this process is the strategic future initiative adVANce, which focuses on customer-oriented solutions for the transport and logistics sector.
Digital@Vans bundles all the activities to make the van an active part of the IoT and connect drivers, fleet managers and operators intelligently via apps and services. Solutions@Vans develops innovative hardware solutions, pursuing the goals of continuously improving load capacity and logistics and adapting to changing expectations in the transport sector. Rental@Vans offers anything from the rental of individual vehicles right through to sector-specific solutions to meet companies’ order peaks. Sharing@Vans is set to introduce services including demand-driven mobility systems across Europe through the joint venture ViaVan. With eDrive@Vans, the focus is on electric drive systems and Autonomous@Vans looks at the future development of autonomous vans.
Mercedes-Benz Vans also offers customers locally emission-free electric drive systems and is consistently pursuing the electrification of its product portfolio. The first of these was the eVito, which is available already. This year (2019) saw the introduction of the eSprinter, the flagship of the van model series. At this year’s IAA in Frankfurt am Main, Mercedes-Benz Vans presented the EQV – the world’s first purely battery-electric MPV in the premium segment. The vehicle offers a range of up to 400 km without compromising the usability of its interior space. The electric models aren’t just good for the environment, they also offer the customer tangible added value due to their suitability for everyday use and versatility.
As a provider of integrated mobility solutions, Mercedes-Benz Vans believes electromobility extends beyond the vehicle itself. The customer is offered an integrated ecosystem of specific solutions and services to support the transition to using electric vehicles in the fleet. This already starts before the purchase decision is made, with comprehensive advice given on the vehicle and infrastructure, and continues through a variety of services including intelligent load management, for example.
An insight into the possible future of autonomous vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Vans is presented in the Vision URBANETIC concept, launched in the summer of 2018. As part of an integrated system solution, Vision URBANETIC tackles the challenges of the future of urban driving and offers up some innovative solutions. The visionary concept is based on a self-driving, electrically powered chassis that can take various interchangeable bodies for transporting passengers or freight. As a ride-sharing vehicle, Vision URBANETIC can carry up to twelve passengers, while the cargo module can transport up to ten Euro pallets. In addition, the concept features an integrated IT infrastructure with real-time analysis of supply and demand in a specified transport area. The result is a self-driving vehicle fleet, with routes planned flexibly and efficiently on the basis of current transportation needs. All this makes Vision URBANETIC a ground-breaking concept for urban mobility in the future.
A wide range of digital services have been grouped together by Mercedes-Benz Vans under the brand name Mercedes PRO. Mercedes PRO started with the professional connectivity and fleet solutions from Mercedes PRO connect, the intelligent networking of fleet managers with their vehicles. Whether the need is for vehicle data, a digital vehicle log or maintenance planning, Mercedes PRO connect makes the van transparent and allows it to be used even more efficiently. For example, the hardware for connection to the internet has been integrated as a fixed component deep in the vehicle’s infrastructure for the first time. All fleet customers from the smallest firm to major fleet owners will be able to benefit from Mercedes PRO connect in the future. The web-based service gives fleet managers an overview of their vehicles – for example, they can manage orders in real time, see which vehicle is where, when it needs to refuel or go into the workshop for maintenance.
In addition to a broad range of equipment options, customised sector-appropriate hardware solutions for the load compartment will make daily work easier for business owners and employees. For example, the courier, express, and parcel delivery sector will be assisted by a largely automated goods registration and loading system, and with vehicles that are integrated as effectively as possible into the logistics chain. Among other things, they feature a low loading height, electric parking brake, and appropriate load compartment concepts. The latter is particularly relevant because more and more people are ordering food online. This food must be delivered just as cool and fresh as if the customer had bought it in person from the supermarket shelf or weekly market.
In the future, the skilled trades could also benefit from the In-Van Delivery & Return connectivity solution, which is currently undergoing testing. In this solution, a logistics service provider collects parts that are no longer required from the vehicle and delivers those that are required for the next day directly to the vehicle overnight.
A variety of requirements have to be met in the passenger transportation sector. Companies expect a reliable vehicle, the driver’s priority is a pleasant work environment, and passengers want to be transported from A to B quickly and in comfort. These diverse requirements are squarely met by the new Sprinter, whose cab and rear boast high-quality appointments that are without parallel in this segment. Vehicle occupants have access to USB charging facilities and Wi-Fi, for example. Another highlight: Daimler intends to put smart mobility solutions on the road by offering the ViaVan on-demand ride-sharing service – in the Sprinter too, of course.