Rethinking urban mobility
More and more people around the world are moving to cities. This development is affecting traffic volumes and the quality of life in urban areas. A clever mobility mix and the further expansion of electric mobility solutions are therefore more important than ever. Daimler is helping to shape this transformation with its products and services.
Rapid growth requires smart mobility
Nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas in the year 2050, according to the United Nations. What does that mean for urban life? How can we make urban spaces more sustainable while at the same time ensuring that we can meet the needs of the increasing number of people who will be living in cities? Questions like these must be answered jointly by different actors. We at Daimler understand our responsibility because mobility plays an important role in urban life.
At the moment, increasing traffic volumes still mean higher emissions. That is why we are working on making urban mobility more efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly – and on enabling CO2-neutral mobility in the medium term. Products and services from Daimler are already helping to improve the traffic situation in cities. We want to do even more in the future, however – for example by helping to make streets safer, by intelligently linking various mobility solutions, and by making it easier for drivers to park their cars.
How we are helping to shape urban mobility
We seek to improve personal mobility and the transport of goods in cities. We have identified three fields of action that will help us achieve this goal:
- We offer private and business customers in metropolitan areas safe, low-emission products combined with accompanying services.
- We are supporting mobility that goes beyond privately owned cars by investing in new mobility services and platforms.
- We are helping to create smart cities by understanding cities’ needs, combining existing solutions from Daimler, and developing new services.
Daimler Financial Services AG was renamed Daimler Mobility AG in mid-2019. The company focuses on three core areas: leasing, financing, and insurance solutions; fleet management services; and digital mobility solutions. Daimler Mobility is also a strategic investor in mobility services such as FREE NOW, SHARE NOW, StarRides, and Blacklane. These equity interests are managed by the Digital & Mobility Solutions executive division at Daimler Mobility AG.
In April 2019, the Urban Mobility unit was also launched. Its aim is to make mobility in cities safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. Although the Urban Mobility team is part of the Mercedes-Benz Cars organization, its activities and decisions apply throughout the Group. The unit is working closely with Daimler’s business units and representatives from cities to develop new solutions, products, and business models that help improve the quality of urban life. Associated projects are currently being implemented in Stuttgart and other cities around the world.
The team focuses on the following areas:
- Understanding cities: Continual exchange of information and ideas with cities in order to be able to better understand their requirements with regard to urban mobility, adapt the Daimler AG portfolio accordingly, and prepare the Group for future developments.
- Development of data products: Use of vehicle data to develop new products that can help improve safety in urban traffic or optimize traffic flows and make them more efficient.
- Urban space development: Implementation of sustainable mobility concepts, such as mobility hubs and concepts for managing mobility during specific events and in specific neighborhoods.
The goal of the associated partnerships is to jointly develop solutions that benefit all parties – i.e. Daimler, cities, residents, urban planners, universities, and other institutions – and eventually lead to viable business models. Possible approaches here include the further development and consolidation of existing Daimler products and the development and testing of new solutions based on the needs of the participating cities. The Urban Mobility team views itself as a mediator between cities and the Daimler Group. The team therefore also focuses on the early identification of new urban mobility requirements and trends that are then incorporated into the development of vehicles and services. In this manner, the team supports the development of sustainable mobility concepts in various areas and units throughout the Group.
In 2018 our mobility management activities for the Group were consolidated within the f.l.o.w. initiative. f.l.o.w. is a German acronym for “Fortbewegung, Lebensweise, Ökologie und Wirtschaft” (mobility, lifestyle, ecology, and economy). Through various traffic-reducing measures and offers under the umbrella of f.l.o.w., employees can contribute to reducing CO2 emissions by reducing the number of road kilometers traveled and to making traffic in cities more fluid.
Measures for establishing an efficient and environmentally friendly mobility mix
Urban residents can already make use of numerous mobility services that make it easier for them to travel around in cities. We intend to make this mobility mix even more efficient in the future and also improve the connections between the various services. This also includes expanding the use of electric mobility.
On the move with environmentally friendly public transport
We continue to work hard on the electrification of our vehicles, focusing particularly on vehicles that operate in urban areas. Daimler Buses has been offering a locally emission-free city bus, the all-electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro, since 2018, thereby contributing to environmentally friendly local public transport in cities and metropolitan areas. Manufacturing of the battery-powered eCitaro is running at series-production level at our plant in Mannheim. Orders received for the eCitaro in 2019 numbered in the hundreds, which demonstrates the high level of customer acceptance for this electric bus. eCitaro buses are already in regular service in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg (both Germany), Oslo (Norway), and Ystad (Sweden), as well as in cities in Switzerland. Products such as the eCitaro make an important contribution to climate protection, air quality, and the reduction of noise emissions in cities.
We also develop additional technologies with the aim of putting them to use in regular bus service operations.
- Beginning in 2020, we will be offering the eCitaro as an articulated bus, and at the end of this year it will also be available with solid-state batteries (lithium polymer batteries).
- The launch of the eCitaro with the next generation of batteries is scheduled for 2021.
- From 2022 onwards, we would like to introduce the battery-electric bus with a fuel-cell range extender to the market.
The eCitaro is part of Daimler Buses’ overall eMobility system. In order to support our customers who are making the transition to electric bus fleets, we offer advice on different use scenarios. For example, we analyze individual bus lines and routes and collect data on everything from route lengths to passenger numbers and average bus speeds. A simulation program developed in-house then determines the various energy requirements. Experts use this information to make precise calculations and recommendations. They take into account various aspects such as the charging infrastructure, energy consumption, the connected load of the power supply at the bus depot, and the use profile of the eCitaro buses in service.
The use of electric buses also leads to significant changes in maintenance, repair, and service operations. That is because high-voltage technology requires transport companies to utilize different types of operational processes. For this reason, Daimler Buses’ OMNIplus service brand has developed an eMobility service concept that allows transport companies to select specific modules that meet their needs. These range from systems for supporting customer repair centers to the provision of maintenance and repair services at our competence centers and the comprehensive servicing of electric vehicles at customer repair centers. OMNIplus has also introduced customized service contracts for the eCitaro that offer maintenance and repair services designed especially for electric mobility. In addition, OMNIplus offers an Eco Training program for bus customers and their drivers that promotes an environmentally friendly driving style.
Smooth and efficient bus traffic flows
The bus transport system known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) enables fast, convenient, and cost-effective mobility in cities. BRT systems use dedicated bus lanes that enable congestion-free operation and short intervals between buses. Exhaust gas and noise emissions can be reduced. The separation from normal road traffic enabled by the dedicated lanes also makes service more reliable and allows the buses to travel at higher speeds. If a BRT system is to work effectively, the buses must be given priority at traffic lights. Modern barrier-free bus stops, pre-ticketing systems, and connections to other public transport services and park & ride and bike & ride locations are also important.
With the introduction of a BRT system in the Australian city of Adelaide about 30 years ago, Daimler was one of the pioneers of urban mobility. Approximately 171 BRT systems are currently operating on all continents, and we continue to support efforts to expand BRT systems around the world. For example, we supply suitable articulated buses and provide advice to transport companies on the introduction and further development of BRT systems.
Use of electric buses
Integrating electric buses into public transport systems operations poses several challenges. Battery charging processes and the length of the routes to be traveled on one charge need to be optimally planned, for example. At the beginning of 2019, Daimler Buses acquired a 5.25 percent interest in IVU Traffic Technologies AG, which offers integrated solutions for electric bus resource planning and fleet management. We are working together with IVU Traffic Technologies AG to promote the use of electric buses in public transport systems.
Digital solutions for bus companies
Digitalization and connectivity offer opportunities to align bus mobility solutions more efficiently with specific application scenarios. The OMNIplus ON portal integrates and consolidates all of the associated digital services in a clearly structured manner. For example, bus companies can use the portal to personally access all the services they have ordered. OMNIplus ON is based on four pillars:
- ON advance makes it possible for bus companies to utilize an anticipatory fleet management system. The OMNIplus Uptime service allows customers to remotely monitor the technical condition of each of their vehicles and thus identify any need for repairs at an early stage.
- ON monitor combines telematics services that provide bus companies with fleet information such as vehicle fuel consumption and operating data.
- ON drive supports drivers in their daily work. For example, the Remote Bus app allows vehicle information (e.g. on tire pressure or fuel tank levels) to be accessed via smartphone.
- ON commerce allows bus companies to quickly and directly procure items, such as spare parts from the OMNIplus eShop.
Well connected: Making goods transport safer and more efficient
Cities are not only hotspots for personal mobility; a large volume of goods also needs to be transported within them safely and in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. Our goal is to reduce both the emissions and the noise caused by urban distribution haulage operations. Our all-electric eActros “Innovation Fleet” is currently being extensively tested by customers in Germany and Switzerland. The first vehicles from the fleet were handed over to customers in 2018.
Our digital solutions also help to make urban transport more sustainable.
Mercedes PRO connect
Digital services from Mercedes PRO connect provide our fleet customers with relevant data that can help them optimize the driving style of their drivers in order to reduce fuel and energy consumption and vehicle wear and tear. The system enables fleet operators ranging from small businesses to major clients to motivate their drivers to adopt an anticipatory driving style and to then offer drivers training courses as needed. This in turn helps reduce vehicle downtime and repair costs, and in certain cases can also lead to lower insurance rates. Mercedes PRO connect is currently available in 19 European countries and in the United States.
HABBL is another system that helps business customers conserve resources. Courier, express, and postal service companies, transport and logistics companies of all sizes, and other supply chain partners can use HABBL to make their processes more efficient and improve traffic flow. The system can be used in vehicles of all makes and types. HABBL especially generates added value by
- efficiently communicating the routes to be traveled, which helps prevent unnecessary trips,
- decreasing downtimes and waiting times, thus reducing the amount of space occupied by vehicles, and
- preventing damage by ensuring better handling of cargo.
The f.l.o.w. initiative for sustainable employee mobility
We also actively support our own employees in their efforts to utilize sustainable mobility solutions. Our f.l.o.w. initiative, for example, develops and combines various concepts and measures that enable our employees to avoid using a car for their commute or business trip. During the reporting year, we once again offered employees a free public transport ticket for commutes and business trips in the Stuttgart region on those days when the city of Stuttgart issued particulate alerts. In the alert period in 2018/2019, a total of 2.7 million kilometers of driving and more than 600 tons of CO2 emissions were thus avoided. Our “Wake Up & Ride” campaign in 2019 offered discounts on purchases of bicycles and electric bikes throughout Germany, and we also offered an on-site bike repair service at nine Daimler locations. The “flinc“ ridesharing app was launched at our Sindelfingen site. Our employees can use the app to establish their own personal ridesharing commuter network with Daimler colleagues. As of December 2019, the app already had 12,000 users who had arranged approximately 120,000 shared rides. This translates into savings of 3.3 million traveled kilometers and 745 tons of CO2 emissions. We are testing new f.l.o.w. measures at selected Daimler locations, and if they are successful we will roll them out at other Daimler sites.
The f.l.o.w. initiative will not be limited to Daimler or the Stuttgart region. Other companies are invited to take part in it as well. The initiative’s measures can be scaled to accommodate other companies, various commercial zones, and even entire cities, which means that Daimler can use f.l.o.w. to further expand its pioneering role in the field of sustainable mobility. f.l.o.w. was initiated by Daimler’s “Lab1886” innovation laboratory and developed with the help of the Factory Planning and External Affairs units, the Works Council, and the HR department.
Innovative parking solutions
Finding a parking space in inner cities can be extremely difficult. The challenge does not just involve finding a space, as maneuvering in and out of one can often be difficult as well. Mercedes-Benz offers car drivers support for both challenges with state-of-the-art assistance systems, the intelligent networking of vehicles and infrastructure, and smart services for parking. This benefits drivers, the environment, and cities. That is because the faster a parking space can be found, the less traffic is created. The Mercedes-Benz systems also make it possible to use existing parking spaces more efficiently.
Our innovative solutions for parking ease the burden on drivers in every phase of the parking process – from the search for a space and actual parking to the retrieval of the car. On-Street Prediction, Real-Time Information, and Off-Street Information – these three Mercedes me connect services make it easier for drivers to find a parking space and can be used with the Mercedes me app in conjunction with the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system.
The Mercedes me Car Sharing app allows drivers of A-Class vehicles to share their car with a specified group of users, so that it can be used during the time it would normally be parked. The app, which went into operation in September 2018, thus enables friends, family members, or colleagues to easily book and borrow the A-Class for a specific period.
The chark app makes it easy and convenient to take delivery of packages and parcels in your vehicle without any need for a driver to be present. The service thus expands the range of benefits offered by digital vehicle access systems. The chark corporate startup has been testing the app in the Stuttgart region since 2018. The app requires a Mercedes-Benz vehicle that is enabled for Mercedes me connect.
Vision URBANETIC: The vision of autonomous driving in cities
With our Vision URBANETIC study, we have developed a forward-looking mobility concept for the use of self-driving vans in a holistic ecosystem. Our objective with this concept vehicle is to be able to transport more people and goods with fewer vehicles on an almost unchanged road infrastructure in order to ease the traffic burden in inner cities, while at the same time meeting the increasing requirements associated with mobility. The solution is a vehicle that can transport both people and goods. Depending on the body structure used, the Vision URBANETIC can serve as a ridesharing vehicle for up to twelve passengers or as a cargo transport van that can hold as many as ten Euro pallets. The Vision URBANETIC is based on an autonomous electrically powered chassis integrated into a sophisticated IT infrastructure – the vehicle control center – that analyzes supply and demand within a defined area in real time. This IT system can also take into account local information about nearby events. The vehicle control center can identify a group of people in a specific area, for example, after which it automatically orders vehicles to meet the increased ride-sharing demand quickly and efficiently.
Full connectivity and a smart control system enable the Vision URBANETIC to not only analyze information but also learn from it. As a result, the system can predict and respond to future needs and thus optimize its processes accordingly in order to shorten waiting and delivery times and avoid congestion. In the long term, the concept vehicle is expected to relieve the burden on city centers and contribute to an improved quality of urban life.
Strategic investments in the future of mobility
Daimler acts as a strategic investor in the growing market for urban mobility services via its Daimler Mobility AG (DMO) subsidiary. The focus here is on participation in the YOUR NOW joint ventures, in which Daimler Mobility and the BMW Group have an equal interest. These joint ventures combine ride hailing, carsharing, and parking services with multimodal platforms and the charging of electric vehicles. The launch of a new holding company on January 1, 2020 supports the efficient controlling of the three pillars that YOUR NOW focuses on: FREE NOW & REACH NOW, SHARE NOW, and PARK NOW & CHARGE NOW.
Daimler Mobility is simultaneously expanding its activities in the area of premium ride hailing: As part of a joint venture with the Geely Technology Group, an app-based limousine chauffeur service was launched in China at the end of 2019. Daimler has also had an interest in the Berlin-based chauffeur and concierge services provider Blacklane since 2013. In addition, Daimler Mobility AG has invested in other mobility services such as Bolt and Turo.
Mobility services like the YOUR NOW joint venture group contribute to making urban mobility more sustainable. The carsharing provider SHARE NOW operates around 3,500 fully electric vehicles in Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris, and Stuttgart.. Users of the FREE NOW ride-hailing service can order a hybrid or all-electric “eco-vehicle” on the service’s online booking site. FREE NOW has stated that it intends to further increase the share of such vehicles in the overall fleet, as the demand for them already significantly exceeds the current supply. FREE NOW customers at selected locations can also use the app to share rides with other passengers or rent an electric scooter or electric bike for short trips.
hive is an electric scooter service offered by FREE NOW. hive was first introduced in Lisbon in 2018 and is now available in ten European cities and six countries (France, Italy, Greece, Austria, Poland, and Portugal). Customers can use the hive app to easily locate and activate an electric scooter or electric bike for a trip and then lock it again at their destination. Electric scooters are ideal for short trips – and are often a faster means of transport than a car for distances of one or two kilometers. hive was integrated into the FREE NOW app in 2019. The batteries in hive electric scooters are recharged with electricity from renewable sources.
How we assess the effectiveness of our management approach
As an integral part of our sustainable business strategy, our activities within the theme “Livable Cities” make an important contribution to improving urban quality of life by making leading mobility and transport solutions available. For this reason, the initiative has also been integrated into the Daimler AG management system.
Our goal is to position the Urban Mobility team as a pioneer in the provision of mobility services for cities and thus take on a leading role among car manufacturers. As a cross-divisional unit, Urban Mobility brings together various activities and services and creates synergies within Daimler AG.
We are already receiving sound feedback and developing important strategic concepts as a result of our extensive interaction with officials from city governments and leading experts in the field of urban mobility.