Design Concept of the Day: Mercedes-Benz Vision Van

September 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

Mercedes-Benz Vision Van - Exterior ; Mercedes-Benz Vision Van - Exterior;

Mercedes-Benz Vans has a Vision: this concept is integrated into a digitally-connected supply chain and logistics network, with fully-automated cargo space, drones for deliveries and operational efficiency improvements of up to 50%. Its 75kW electric-drive powertrain gives an emissions-free, silent range of up to 270km, good for inner-city use and overnight deliveries. Inside, it has drive-by-wire with a joystick, enabling greater interior capacity and a large display surface – full-width across the dash in a textile-covered arc. Full details here.

  • More Mercedes news: 1000 battery systems from defunct Smart Fortwo electric-drive cars have been fitted as static storage in Lünen, Westphalia, giving a claimed 13 MWh facility and the world’s largest second-life installation yet. It will store and release energy for network operators to balance the grid and integrate renewable generation.
  • Good news for British EV drivers? Shell is in “advanced preparations” for installing charging points on its forecourts, reports The Guardian, with an interest in wireless induction charging as well…
  • News from the Zap-Map team: its parent company Next Green Car has set up a new firm, Zap Digital Ltd, to develop “new smart tools for EV drivers and B2B products to help companies deliver electric mobility solutions.” Upcoming products will include Zap-Pay, a cross-network “payment and access interface”. It’s currently estimating that there are 80,000 EVs on the UK’s roads, and says there were over 40,000 users of the Zap-Map platform in August.
  • There’ll be a convergence of EVs and autonomous vehicles, according to a report from Lux Research, detailed here, identifying six reasons (I paraphrase): 1. tech-focused early-adopters want both innovations; 2. it’s easier to integrate autonomous features into an EV; 3. there’s a good synergy between wireless charging and autonomy; 4. more efficient self-driving optimises battery range; 5. both techs will mature around the same time (2030-ish); 6. both techs will be government-mandated. I’d agree with 3 of the 6 statements; am less sure about the last, would suggest that EVs have a much greater chance of reaching market maturity by 2030 than autonomy (given the right market conditions and support), and would point out that tech-focused early-adopter types only make up a v small proportion of vehicle buyers.
  • Study of 30 Californian cities for the ICCT found that EV sales correlated significantly with model availability (obv), public charging networks, local promotional activities, EV-sharing services, government/fleet programmes and median income – but not the Clean Vehicle Rebate scheme or prevalance of single-family homes (indicating home charging suitability).  Conclusion was that comprehensive policy support was important; promotional activities and incentives including parking and workplace charging encouraged uptake; and that the EV market grows with its charging infrastructure. More here.
  • But underlining how far we yet have to go, latest DfT stats on new vehicle registration [download here]: April-June saw a 2% rise on the same time last year, the highest level of registrations [805,000 new vehicles sold in the quarter] since summer 2003 – and an all-time high for the number of cars and vans on the UK’s roads [30.7million cars]. In this context, ULEV (ultra-low emissions vehicle, including EV) sales look pretty paltry: 9,657 in the quarter April-June, 49% up on this time last year but still representing a meagre 1.1%. And of that, the best-sellers were all PHEVs: Mitsubishi Outlander (1,854), Mercedes-Benz C350 (1,480) and BMW 330 (1,143). Traditional [ICE] car ownership ain’t exactly dead yet.
  • …and nor is driving, though there are some notable developments in the just-released 2015 National Travel Survey. Last year, Brits made an average 914 trips (the lowest recorded) and travelled over 6,600 miles, spending an average hour a day travelling. Car use – 64% of trips, 78% of distance – and walking (combined 86% of trips) decreased, largely due to lower walking rates; cycling still accounts for only 2% of trips; trips by rail and bus in London increased; trips for shopping, commuting and visiting friends continued to fall. Women made more trips, but men travelled 20% further; highest-income households travelled more than 2x as as lowest-income; rural-dwellers went 44% further than urban residents, and nearly 2x as far as Londoners. Car ownership has continued to increase long-term, is now flattening out but with different regional patterns: 25% of households don’t have a car (down from 38% in 2005) but households with more than one car have increased from 17% to 35% 2005-2015; carless households have fallen 2002/03-2014/15 from 37% to 29% in the NE, but remain unchanged at 41% in London. As for licence-holding, 74% of adults 17+ in England have a full licence (32million of them), with the highest increase in women driving (now 68% having licences, compared to 80% of men); fewer young adults have a licence since the 1990s, but more older people, especially women. “Overall, the Department’s work concludes there is little evidence to confirm that car ownership levels or distance travelled per person have reached saturation.”
  • Ford is buying out San Francisco’s Chariot Shuttle, a crowd-sourced ride-sharing service, partnering with bike-share scheme Motivate in SF and the Bay Area, and establishing a new team called City Solutions.  Chariot currently operates nearly 100 Ford Transit minibuses along 28 routes in SF, based on rider demand, and will develop dynamic real-time data to map efficient routes: Ford describes it as “filling the gap between taxi and bus services”, and aims to launch it in at least five new cities in the next 18 months. Research for Ford by KPMG reckoned that each shuttle bus could take 25 private cars off the road. Motivate, meanwhile, will work with Ford to launch Ford GoBike, giving 7000 shared bikes by the end of 2018 and access via the FordPass app; Ford is also to collect data from the bikes “to build an interconnected mobility network”. More here.
  • PSA Group, meanwhile, is partnering with Bollore on car-sharing in cities including Los Angeles, as part of a push into mobility services – probably as part of a test for a potential return of Peugeot sales to the USA, reports Automotive News.
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