From ridesharing services to public transport and electric and automated vehicles – people who wish to move around in a city can already take advantage of a variety of options. Nevertheless, there remains a huge potential still to be tapped. What’s needed are services that are simultaneously comfortable, fast, environmentally friendly, and safe. Our vision at Daimler is to offer sustainable mobility and transport solutions that help to make cities desirable places to live.
More and more people around the world are moving to cities. There are many reasons for this, one being that there are more jobs to be found in cities. The growth of major metropolitan areas also has negative consequences, however, including higher traffic volumes, which lead to increased emissions and noise. In an effort to counter this development, Daimler is intensively engaging with urban mobility. Reducing emissions in cities, increasing safety, and making a broader range of mobility solutions available – these are our objectives for making livable cities.
We are focusing on three specific areas of action here.
Electric city buses
As we move ahead with the electrification of our vehicle fleet, we are focusing particularly on vehicles that operate in cities. With the all-electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro, we are offering a locally emission-free city bus, thereby contributing to environmentally friendly local public transport in cities and metropolitan areas.
The Mercedes-Benz eCitaro received two awards at the Busworld Europe international bus show in Brussels in 2019: the “Sustainable Bus Award 2020” in the “Urban” category and the “Comfort Label 2019” award. The panel that voted on the awards determined that the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro currently offers the best combination of sustainability, comfort, and safety.
The number of orders received for the eCitaro has reached three digits, which demonstrates the high level of customer acceptance of this electric bus. Because of this high level of acceptance, Daimler Buses was able to obtain a large number of major orders for the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro in 2019, including orders for 56 units for Wiesbaden, 48 for Hanover, 27 for Aachen, and 25 for Hamburg. The first orders from European cities outside Germany for the battery-electric eCitaro were also received last year. Today eCitaro buses are already in regular service in cities including not only Berlin and Hamburg but also Oslo (Norway), Ystad (Sweden), and St. Gallen (Switzerland).
We see the greatest requirements by far arising from the trend toward electric mobility. In Europe alone, the fleet of battery-electric buses is set to increase to over 2,500 units this year. For the future this means that various European cities will only buy low-emission or emission-free buses. We assume that in 2030 over 70 percent of all newly registered city buses will have an emission-free drive system.
Thomas Tonger Product planner and manager at Daimler BusesRead the full interview
Holistic electric mobility from Mercedes-Benz Vans
Mercedes-Benz Vans is systematically forging ahead with the electrification of its product portfolio with locally emission-free electric drive systems and thus helping to ensure more sustainable mobility for people and goods in cities. The first step in this direction was made with the eVito panel van, which was followed by the eVito Tourer. The eSprinter was then launched in 2019. In the same year, Mercedes-Benz Vans presented the world’s first purely battery-electric premium full-size multi-purpose vehicle: the EQV (power consumption combined: 26.4-26.3 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km)1. The vehicle offers a range of 417 km2 without compromising the usability of its interior space.
The eDrive@VANs strategy involves not only the electrification of the vehicle fleet but also the design of an overall system solution for each individual application scenario. This includes advice on vehicle selection, assistance with tools such as the eVAN Ready app, and a holistic approach to the total cost of ownership. Decisive for potential electric van users is the analysis of the organizational and technical circumstances at commercial customer sites. Finally, the integration of an intelligent charging infrastructure concept lays the foundation for conserving resources with a commercial fleet while remaining economically competitive.
Well connected: Making transport safer and more efficient
Along with personal mobility, the transport of goods also plays a key role in urban traffic. Mercedes-Benz Vans offers digital solutions in this area with Mercedes PRO connect, which provides fleet customers with data they can use to analyze the driving style of their drivers and its effect on fuel consumption or vehicle wear and tear, for example. Drivers can then receive training in line with the results of these analyses. Such training courses can help reduce fuel consumption and the risk of accidents. Mercedes PRO connect is currently available in 19 European countries and in the United States. The web-based service benefits fleet operators ranging from small businesses to major clients.
The vision of autonomous driving
How can more people and goods be transported with fewer vehicles on a virtually unchanged road infrastructure? For us, the answer is Vision URBANETIC – 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 12 passengers or as a cargo transport van that can hold as many as ten Euro pallets. It is based on an autonomously driving electrically powered chassis combined with a complex IT infrastructure that analyzes supply and demand in a defined area in real time while also evaluating local information about nearby events, for example.
Full networking capability and intelligent control 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. Thus processes can be optimized, for example in order to shorten waiting or delivery times and to avoid congestion. The idea here is that the concept vehicle should ease the traffic burden in inner cities over the long term and help improve the quality of life in the city.
Strong partner for cities
We have been expanding our Urban Mobility unit since April 2019. The unit is working closely with representatives from cities and Daimler’s business divisions to develop new solutions, products, and business models that help improve the quality of life in cities. We believe it is our responsibility to support cities in their efforts to make mobility safe, sustainable, and accessible through the use of innovative products. Our partnerships with cities therefore focus on, among other things, examining ways that the knowledge gained from the processing of vehicle data can help cities improve traffic planning and traffic management. In this way, we want to improve traffic flows and increase safety on city streets, for example. Other projects that we are involved in focus on concepts such as mobility hubs and mobility services for special target groups, for example people attending specific events. All of these concepts are designed to enable end users to access the best mobility option for their needs in a given situation. In some cases this might involve using a car, while in others the better option would be to use a ridesharing shuttle, public transport, or a rental bike.
With regard to local public transport, the eCitaro will be launched with next-generation batteries in 2021. Before then, solid-state batteries (lithium polymer batteries) are set to be introduced in the second half of 2020. We also plan to begin offering the battery-electric bus with a range extender (a hydrogen-based fuel cell that supplies the high-voltage battery with electricity) in 2022. Future battery technologies can lead to increased service coverage in regular operation – with the range extender enabling nearly all routes to be served.
We are also developing locally CO2-neutral vehicles for urban distribution haulage and municipal applications. Additional plans call for the launch of the eActros in 2022. This electric series-production truck will boast locally CO2-neutral operation and also help reduce noise emissions in cities. Beginning in 2022, the eEconic will make trash collection a quieter and locally emission-free process. We aim for selected customers to begin testing the electric truck in 2021.Rethinking urban mobility
1 see appendix: labeling
2 The actual range is furthermore dependent upon the individual driving style, the road and traffic conditions, outside temperature, use of climate control/heating system, etc. and may differ accordingly.