Faithful to its tradition, the noble marque with the three pointed star not only received us for their annual press conference into their stylish premises of the Mercedes House at the Brussels Sablon, but presented also the interesting insights of an eminent speaker. This year they invited for us Holger Hutzenlaub, who is Head of Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Germany and smart Design. (See Photo above).
He is responsible for new and innovative design concepts, and he informed us about his styling ideas of the future (urban) car, and the new role cars will have to play in the urban environment of the future decades.
We will present here some of his interesting ideas, and in a following report, we tell you about how well Mercedes-Benz Belgium Luxembourg fared in 2013 and what it will show on the next Brussels Salon…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
“Cars will be giving back to the city, and will be ever more useful for the urban space and mobility”…
Mr. Hutzenlaub presented us four scenarios, notably “Giving Back to the City”, “Double Purpose”, “Mobile Revolution” and “Carchitecture”, and gave us his look at different strategies for shaping the world of tomorrow. (See photo above, use "ctrl+" to enlarge it)
These scenarios were originally the results of a Daimler future workshop held earlier in the year. The pictorial worlds developed at the workshop show possible scenarios for future mobility and ways of making cars even more useful.
Giving back to the city: the car as a helper for pedestrian health in an emergency, health check or just as "street furniture" to rest...
The idea of 'Giving Back to the City' came about because of the way people perceive cars which are often seen as the 'bad guys' – for example when it comes to parking.
Thus, the task was: how can we create a more positive perception of cars? What additional functions must cars have in order to offer people benefits above and beyond transportation? There is no doubt that cars are becoming more and more intelligent – they are fitted with a vast amount of sensory systems and technology. 'Giving Back to the City' is a philanthropic approach that aims to use these technologies to create benefits for the wider community.
Cars can light up passengers when they get out of their cars...
Cars increasingly become data hubs that assimilate and process large amounts of data from the surrounding area, as well as contributing information themselves.
A parked car can do just so much more for you…
They are developing into robots with their own intelligence and the capacity to act. A parked vehicle, for example, could signal to children that a road is safe to cross or, if they are lost, even point them in the right direction. When crossing a traffic lane, a car could send signals to the traffic infrastructure allowing other vehicles to slow down. ‘Virtual crosswalk’ could make it possible to safely cross a road at any point.
The modern ‘living in transit’ requires more flexible shopping opportunities. Large screens on the sides of cars could display products that a passer-by could order, as if in a virtual shopping zone. At the same time, these screens could serve as advertising pillars, providing information on the current location or saying something about the vehicle's owner. Access to the digital world and unlimited communication would be possible without a smart phone 24 hours a day no matter where you are.
Second scenario: Double Purpose: your own car can become public transport…
Cars are either private or public today. The car - a protective space where we can listen to music as loudly as we like, where we can laugh, cry and swear without any inhibitions.
The car - an oversized bag with all the important and not-so-important things that we carry around with us. Compare that with the anonymity of the rental car – cleaned after every journey and devoid of any personal touches.
Behind ‘Double Purpose’ stands the vision of an all-in-one solution. Conceptual approach is to combine the various uses of vehicles without making compromises: once you have driven your own car to work, you make it available as an autonomously driven taxi or car-sharing vehicle, generating extra income.
Of course it must be possible to modify the interior of the car easily so that the car can be used as a public vehicle without compromising its function as a private one. After its use as a public vehicle, the car is simply converted back to a standard car by its owner.
Third Scenario: Mobile Revolution: the city is changing into a utopian place…
The cities of the future will no longer be divided into functional areas such as living, working, shopping, and leisure. This functional arrangement is inflexible and forces city residents to travel long distances. The necessary infrastructure also makes it difficult to find spaces where a ‘life of proximity’ can be enjoyed.
The ‘Mobile Revolution’ approach is based on a city that is not organized by functions but by mobility requirements.
This city is divided into rings with different speeds. The inner rings are slower and have shops that can be reached on foot.
The outer larger rings are faster and link the small centers so that big city facilities are still accessible. Innovative transport systems will allow the transportation of goods to be routed underground and away from the streets, and people will mainly travel above ground where there is light and fresh air.
Different loops require different types of cars…
The city is changing and transport is changing with it: for long distances on the large city loops, the car offers space – a ‘Mobility Lounge’ that can be used as an office, a comfortable seating area or a sales room.
On the inner loops, highly compact single-seaters offer the occupant protection and privacy and help if walking is difficult or shopping too heavy.
The ‘Mobile Revolution’ is therefore leading to a system of different mobility devices that combine efficiency with an individualized urban lifestyle.
Fourth scenario: Carchitecture, or combining cars and architecture…
Buildings and vehicles have much in common: from construction to use to recycling, they depend on energy and resources.
In a building, the energy is for air conditioning, lighting and technical infrastructure such as lifts and escalators. Resources are not only used for the main structure itself but also for technical installations such as heating, cooling, and ventilation.
At the present time, these functions are duplicated: both your home and car have heating systems. At the same time electric cars have energy storage which is missing in the building. The vehicle, however, has little space for energy generation.
This is where ‘Carchitecture’ comes in. Developing car design so that they can incorporate mobile and immobile elements could prove a worthwhile strategy in future.
The link between a house and a car is energy: the energy flow is made possible through electric power in cars and the intelligence of energy houses in the future.
The connection between the house and car is symbiotic in nature: the car is an energy accumulator on wheels, the house is a supplier and receiver of energy. So, in future, an electric vehicle could replace or enhance/supplement the installed heating system for a building.
A continuing interdisciplinary dialog is necessary…
Of course we asked the speaker about the necessity sharing Daimler’s ideas of future mobility with other disciplines, municipalities, government bodies, etc.
Mr. Mr. Hutzenlaub agreed fully, and Daimler explores the complete spectrum from idealistic ideas on future mobility and the associated challenges, to possible solutions and mobility concepts.
The company is indeed sharing its visions with innovative thinkers from various disciplines, continuing to demonstrate its commitment to shaping the future of mobility.
The (future) styling language of Mercedes-Benz
Of course, Mr. Hutzenlaub also reflected on the styling activity of the marque with the three pointed star. One discerns Advanced design, Interior design, Exterior design, Creative management, and last but not least Commercial Vehicle Design and smart Design. In advanced design and styling, one also looks at the very structures nature uses to give shape, strength and solidity to objects and bodies.
The present headlamp design of S and E class started as a sculpture...
Besides the research into the use of revolutionary new materials, these “natural” constructions are also investigated, as the accompanying picture shows, and used as inspirational material. "We also investigate and emphasize sculptural aspects of design, i.e. see the car or elements of it as a sculpture. Just look at the grille of the new A Class: the studded gleaming points or stars find their way in series production…" Mr; Hutzenlaub concluded.
As said, more about the results in 2013 of Mercedes-Benz Belgium Luxembourg and its presence on the Brussels Salon 2014 in our following report…
Hans Knol ten Bensel