Future Merc vans will use drones.
Drone deliveries, automated shelving part of the future plans
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.