Fu­ture Merc vans will use drones.

Drone de­liv­er­ies, au­to­mated shelv­ing part of the fu­ture plans

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

THE many clients of Gar­den City Com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg will be very in­ter­ested in the fu­tur­is­tic vans that Mercedes-Benz Vans un­veiled last week.

Gar­den City’s staff are the cur­rent hold­ers of a Daim­ler Group award for sell­ing and ser­vic­ing vans bet­ter than any other dealer of this size in the group. They say the fu­tur­is­tic van is part of the Mercedes-Benz trans­port vision to sys­tem­at­i­cally add cus­tomers’ chang­ing re­quire­ments to its ve­hi­cles.

In Europe, the driver of change is the growth of e-com­merce and de­liv­ery of parcels or­dered on­line.

To cater for this new de­mand, Mercedes-Benz is adding so­lu­tions that can make the trans­porta­tion of goods and pas­sen­gers even more ef­fi­cient and open up new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and eco­nomic ben­e­fits for cus­tomers.

Volker Morn­hin­weg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said at the Van In­no­va­tion Cam­pus in Stuttgart the next gen­er­a­tion of Mercedes-Benz vans will have to live up to the dra­matic changes in the trans­port sec­tor.

To do this, he said the de­sign­ers of the next Merc vans are fo­cus­ing their attention “be­yond the ve­hi­cle on the en­tire value chain and busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment of our cus­tomers”.

Morn­hin­weg said Merc will in­vest around half a bil­lion eu­ros (around R7 bil­lion) over the next five years to mod­ernise its vans to meet the re­quire­ments of web­based com­merce.

Ex­am­ples in­clude the bur­geon­ing busi­ness in food and ev­ery­day ne­ces­si­ties or­dered on­line. Here, de­mand for same-day de­liv­ery or de­liv­ery within an hour is in­creas­ing rapidly. At the same time, more and more peo­ple are liv­ing in cities — by 2030 ur­ban ar­eas will be home to more than two-thirds of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

To meet these trans­porta­tion re­quire­ments, Merc en­vi­sions an all-elec­tric “Vision Van” kit­ted out with its own par­cel-de­liv­ery drones on the roof.

Morn­hin­weg said in a state­ment this all-elec­tric van will com­bine var­i­ous in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions for last-mile de­liv­ery in ur­ban and sub­ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments. It is the first van world­wide to fully dig­i­tally con­nect all peo­ple and pro­cesses in­volved, from the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre to the con­signee.

It will also be the first van ever to fea­ture a fully au­to­mated cargo space and in­te­grated de­liv­ery drones. “For ex­am­ple, if a par­cel ser­vice provider stops his ve­hi­cle in a res­i­den­tial area, it will be pos­si­ble to de­liver mul­ti­ple pack­ages to nearby con­signees au­tonomously by air — even if they are not at home — in ad­di­tion to man­ual de­liv­ery.

The ve­hi­cle is equipped with a 75 kW elec­tric drive and — de­pend­ing on the in­tended ap­pli­ca­tion — has a range of 80 km to ap­prox­i­mately 270 km.

“Equipped with an elec­tric drive sys­tem, the Vision Van not only op­er­ates lo­cally emis­sion­free, 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. This gives our cus­tomers the pos­si­bil­ity of of­fer­ing new ser­vices to their cus­tomers.”

Mercedes-Benz Vans is also de­vel­op­ing an au­to­mated cargo area to make load­ing and un­load­ing much faster, thereby in­creas­ing process ef­fi­ciency.

These vans of the fu­ture will be built by a new unit called Fu­ture Trans­porta­tion Sys­tems based in Stuttgart, Ber­lin and Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Merc has created a new di­vi­sion to en­sure its vans meet all the de­mands of fu­ture last mile trans­porters.

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