Unveiled as part of the manufacturer’s new ‘adVANce’ initiative to identify changing customer requirements and develop new solutions, the ‘Vision Van’ all-electric study offers a range of up to 270km (168mph), fully automated cargo space and integrated drones.
Announcing the new initiative at the Van Innovation Campus in Stuttgart, Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: “We are focusing our attention beyond the vehicle on the entire value chain and business environment of our customers. We provide transport solutions for the digital age and evolve the van into an intelligent, interconnected data centre on wheels. In order to do this, we are investing around half a billion euros over the next five years, and we created a separate organisational unit. So far, this approach is unique within the van sector.”
Under the initiative, Mercedes-Benz will focus on three areas. The first involves incorporating the van into the Internet of Things. Examples include developing a telematics unit for vans which collects and processes data concerning the status of the delivery tour, the present location and the load, and sends this information to the distribution manager.
In addition, the project looks at the efficient part and tool management for service vehicles, for example tradespersons' mobile workshops. This will enable parts to be ordered in a fully automated way by means of an intelligent inventory management within the vehicle, as well as for the relevant parts to be placed overnight directly into the van.
This also takes in hardware-based solutions for the transportation industry, with work being undertaken on automated cargo space systems for delivery vehicles for parcel services, for example.
Finally, Mercedes-Benz say it’s working in conjunction with various cooperation partners is new mobility concepts for the on-demand transportation of goods and people, and also looking at new leasing, rental and sharing models.