Daimler creates new commercial vehicle arm, van concept


New division hopes to transfer Mercedes-Benz Vans from a vehicle manufacturer into a “provider of system solutions”

Daimler creates new commercial vehicle arm, van concept
The Mercedes-Benz Vision Van.

 

Mercedes-Benz has created a new business arm with the announcement of its adVANce strategic future initiative, a strategy to develop the commercial vehicles of the future.

As part of the plan, Mercedes-Benz Vans says it will invest 500 million euros ($733 million) over the next five years for "digitalisation, automation and robotics in vans as well as innovative mobility solutions."

To be based in Stuttgart and Berlin in Germany and in Silicon Valley in the US, the new Daimler division – called Future Transportation Systems – will be focusing on the changing needs of the light commercial market and take into account changing economic and social trends towards urbanisation, e-commerce, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Benz says the 200-employee strong division will help the company develop "from a mere vehicle manufacturer into a provider of system solutions and will offer integrated and intelligent systems in addition to its basic vehicles in the future."

The move is a shift away from the van department’s 'Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global' strategy, which focused on growing the Mercedes-Benz brand.

Instead, Mercedes-Benz Vans head Volker Mornhinweg says the brand is "focusing our attention beyond the vehicle" to "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," he says.

"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."

According to Benz, the division’s three key fields of innovation will be incorporating the van into the Internet of Things, developing hardware-based solutions for the transportation industry, and creating new mobility concepts for the on-demand transportation of goods and people.

As part of these goals, the company says it will examine leasing, rental and sharing models, ridesharing concepts, package delivery methods, interconnected cargo space systems, automated cargo space systems, one-shot loading, telematics units, fleet management solutions, inventory systems, and more.

 

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The new approach will also include a focus on the use of drones, an area that Daimler has already made an investment.

The company has a stake in US-based autonomous drone logistics company Matternet, a company that it has already utilised to develop the Vision Van show car.

"Together with Matternet, Mercedes-Benz Vans worked on the Vision Van show car, the first integrated delivery system that automates last-mile delivery," Benz says.

"The new system, which combines van and drone logistics, is a more efficient, faster and a more economical way for people to receive goods on-demand."

The all-electric van has a range up to 270km, a fully-automated cargo space and integrated drones.

Tailored for urban environments, the solution can stop in a neighbourhood and deliver multiple packages to different houses at the same time through the use of drones.

"With the Vision Van from Mercedes-Benz Vans we provide an idea of future generations of vans: the intelligent automation technology connects the entire process, from loading and transportation by road through to delivery to the consignee," Mornhinweg says.

"This makes it easier for the deliverer to do business and rapidly reduces the delivery time for end customers."

 

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Powered by a 75kW engine, he says "the Vision Van not only operates locally emission-free, it also moves almost silently."

"This means that it can be operated in cities even during times when there are traffic restrictions or for late-night deliveries in residential areas," he says.

"This gives our customers the possibility of offering new services to their customers."

 

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