At a sneak preview of the new Sprinter in Stuttgart Germany, Mercedes-Benz showcased how the best-selling van is set to lead the large van segment into a new era.
Its internet connectivity, unique scalability, silent electric drives and individual hardware solutions for the load compartment, as well as the way it is combined with sharing and rental services, make the Sprinter the first integrated system solution.
Integration of these innovations is geared exclusively to the individual customer benefit to be achieved in each sector, and will be a boon to fleet managers and drivers in their daily work.
Since its market launch in 1995, the Sprinter has been defining the large van segment in the most diverse fields and satisfying customers in more than 130 countries, with sales to date in excess of 3,3 million units.
The advance future initiative stands for Mercedes-Benz Vans’ transformation from a vehicle manufacturer into a provider of fully integrated transport and mobility solutions. The development of products and services is shaped by five areas of innovation. digital@vans is concerned primarily with connectivity and the digital networking of vehicles. solutions@vans focuses on the development of hardware solutions that can make customers more efficient in their daily business. The area of rental@vans centres on innovative rental models, while sharing@vans pools new concepts in the field of public passenger transport. eDrive@vans embodies a holistic approach to electric mobility.
For the first time the third generation Sprinter serves as an innovation flagship for an entire vehicle class, above all by virtue of completely new networking services. Internet connection hardware is deeply integrated as an integral part of the vehicle’s infrastructure.
The mega-trends of digitalisation and urbanisation meant that companies and fleet operators are confronted with extreme challenges. The market for courier, express and parcel services is characterised by tight delivery deadlines, flexible delivery windows and high cost pressures. Overnight delivery is standard in online retail, for example, while the delivery of goods on the day of ordering in the food sector is becoming more and more important.
In order to survive in this highly competitive environment, vehicle fleets need to be integrated to an even greater degree than ever into corporate processes. Cutting-edge commercial vehicles are transforming from pure means of transportation into platforms for logistics concepts.
Innovative developments here cover maximum flexibility and integration of the vehicle into the corporate IT infrastructure and inventory control systems, and the Sprinter fits the bill here as an integrated system solution.
Maximum networking, the ultimate in adaptability and electric drives: in these three fields of innovation, the Sprinter embodies a totally new concept and a new positioning. The vehicle becomes part of the Internet of Things, opens up countless potential applications by way of maximum scalability from body variants to telematics system, and also demonstrates the strategy which Mercedes-Benz Vans is pursuing in electrifying commercial fleets.
A digital communication module is to be premiered on board the Sprinter. The central services include vehicle status, vehicle logistics, fleet communications, maintenance management, accident recovery and a digital vehicle log, for example. Mercedes PRO connect, the web-based service for fleet customers, from small trade enterprises to key accounts, links up the fleet manager with all vehicles and drivers in their fleet via the vehicle management tool. This enables jobs to be managed online and vehicle information such as location, fuel level and maintenance intervals to be retrieved in real time.
One of the most important topics relating to the future is networking of the load compartment. This enables the driver and fleet manager to keep an eye on the items on board in real-time on courier trips, for example. Mercedes PRO connect shares the data collected in the vehicle with fleet managers via a cloud infrastructure.
The versatility and adaptability of vehicles represent key criteria in meeting customer requirements in diverse industries. The Sprinter spans an unprecedentedly wide range of variants going well beyond different bodies, wheelbases or load heights.
The range extends from the basic version for price-sensitive customers who value the Sprinter’s proven virtues to the high-end variant with high-quality interior appointments. The stowage compartment concept exemplifies the adaptability of the interior. A choice of open, closed or lockable compartments within the roof liner and in the cockpit enables the configuration to be tailored precisely to the given requirements for the workplace behind the wheel.
The central area of the instrument panel is dominated by intelligent infotainment systems with the latest generation telematics offering the ultimate in networking at the top end of the product range.
Mercedes-Benz Vans’ integrated strategy also covers the area of electric drives. All commercial models series are to be electrified in the coming years, starting with the eVito which will be followed by the eSprinter in 2019. The use of networking solutions, along with e-vehicle specific financing and mobility concepts, form part of the overall solution of an all-encompassing ecosystem. This substantially lowers the operating costs over the vehicle’s entire life-cycle and renders the eSprinter and eVito competitive in the given commercial or industrial context.
Electrification of the model range is accompanied by a paradigm change in development, with the focus shifting towards the customer co-creation model. Strategic partners are directly integrated into the ongoing development process. A pilot phase will be launched at the beginning of 2018 with 1 500 electric vans for parcel delivery operations. The knowledge and insights gained from this pilot project will be applicable in part to other industries, enabling a transfer of knowledge and technology that will ultimately benefit all customers.