Rapid growth requires smart mobility
More and more people around the world are moving to cities. According to the United Nations, nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas in the year 2050. 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 and solutions for making goods transportation more efficient are therefore more important than ever.
At the moment, increasing traffic volumes often lead to higher emissions. This is why we are working to make urban mobility more efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly — and to enable CO2-neutral mobility in the medium term. Many of our products and services are already designed to help improve the traffic situation in cities. But we are accomplishing even more — for example by helping to make streets safer and by intelligently linking various mobility solutions.
How we are helping to shape urban mobility
We have firmly established the “Livable Cities” area of action as an integral part of our sustainable business strategy. Our activities here clearly show how we plan to help cities and their residents meet mobility requirements relating to safety, sustainability, and efficiency. We will provide such help by further developing and combining existing Daimler products simultaneously as we develop and test entirely new solutions.
Urban Mobility Solutions is optimizing the traffic flows of the future
In 2019, the Urban Mobility Solutions unit was launched with the aim of making mobility in cities safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. Although Urban Mobility Solutions is part of the Mercedes-Benz AG Marketing & Sales division, its activities and decisions apply throughout the Daimler Group.
The unit’s mission is to gain an even better understanding of the mobility requirements of cities through a continuous exchange of information, and to help improve the quality of life in cities by developing new solutions, products, and business models. In order to identify and address new ideas and trends in the area of urban mobility at an early stage of their development, our teams work closely with representatives of cities, partners from industry, and experts from our planning and research departments, as well as other business units at Daimler. Our goal for this approach is to develop new fields of business, expand and improve the Daimler AG portfolio, and prepare the company for future developments in the area of urban mobility.
During the year under review, Urban Mobility Solutions identified three new product and service segments for customers in urban areas:
- “Data-based mobility products”: We use vehicle data to develop products that can help improve safety in urban traffic or optimize traffic flows and make them more efficient.
- “Urban mobility systems”: We help cities and urban players such as event organizers and district developers design and implement holistic mobility systems that successfully address urban mobility challenges.
- “Vehicles optimized for cities”: We develop vehicle-related services that help meet specific needs and requirements more effectively in a dynamically changing urban environment.
Urban Mobility Solutions projects
Urban Mobility Solutions is currently involved in extensive discussions with representatives of cities and regional governments in Europe and the United States in particular. The talks focus on how data can be used to make road traffic safer and more efficient. Other topics include the optimization of traffic flows in real time through the use of intelligent vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity systems.
During 2020, Urban Mobility Solutions also developed a data analytics platform for smart networked cities in cooperation with a major European city. The solution is designed to make cities safer and thus more attractive. Experts from Urban Mobility Solutions use the data from driving assistance systems to identify critical traffic areas in the city and transparently depict danger zones. This information can help traffic planning specialists make better decisions in order to ensure traffic safety in the city and effectively implement corresponding measures. This Mercedes-Benz product for increasing traffic safety has been available for use by other cities as well since the beginning of 2021.
Urban Mobility Solutions has also initiated another project at Synergiepark in Stuttgart. Synergiepark is the largest commercial zone in Stuttgart, and plans call for it to double in size over the next three years. In the year under review, Urban Mobility Solutions, the city of Stuttgart, and the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen public transport company launched initial mobility solutions for Synergiepark — including an on-demand shuttle for people who work there. Employees at participating companies in Synergiepark can hop on and off the shuttle anywhere at the site — i.e. the shuttle has no fixed schedule or stops. The shuttle service can be ordered via an app and is integrated into the local public transport fare system. The shuttle operates with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, some of which are equipped with electric drives.
Urban Mobility Solutions plans to take things a step further in 2021 by developing a holistic mobility concept for Synergiepark in cooperation with partners from business and industry, government, scientific institutes, and civic organizations. The goal here is to improve the flow of commuter traffic within the existing transport infrastructure, while at the same time significantly reducing the negative environmental impact of such traffic. The mobility solutions developed within the framework of the concept are to be implemented by the Verkehrsverbund Stuttgart public transport association and made available to Synergiepark commuters and residents of the Stuttgart region.
Urban Mobility Solutions also implemented a parking and shuttle concept for the Messe Stuttgart trade fair company during the CMT 2020 exhibition, and the unit made other mobility services available at the event as well. For example, visitors to the exhibition were able to use additional SHARE NOW carsharing vehicles that were parked at the entrance to the trade fair center. Daimler also set up a temporary park-and-ride parking area at its Stuttgart-Möhringen site on one of the exhibition weekends in order to reduce congestion on streets near the trade fair center. The park-and-ride shuttle bus operated between the parking area and the exhibition throughout the weekend.
Urban Mobility Solutions is active in other regions in Germany as well — for example in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area, where the “Rhein Ruhr City 2032” initiative is looking to bring the 2032 Summer Olympics and Paralympics to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Daimler is supporting the initiative as a partner and will work with it to develop a regional mobility concept for the games. The idea is that the concept should also be used after the events as a sustainable mobility solution that will improve the quality of life in the region. To this end, Urban Mobility Solutions and the Future Research unit are working closely with our partner Gehl and with local stakeholders from government, administrative agencies, business and industry, and the general public.
Smart Cities team implements sustainable mobility solutions with vans
Mercedes-Benz Vans established a Smart Cities team in 2017. Today the team works closely with Urban Mobility Solutions and manages specific issues and projects for the Vans division. Among other things, the Smart Cities team cooperates with cities and players in the urban environment — such as public and private transport companies and transport network operators (for example Via, Bolt, Kapten) — in order to identify mobility requirements and implement sustainable solutions.
Such solutions include on-demand services with battery-electric vans that allow passengers to book rides flexibly in real time via an app and then have themselves picked up at “virtual stops.” In many cases, these services are used as an additional transport option in public transport systems — for example to cover the last mile from the terminus of a subway line to the destination. Companies, universities, and airports that operate their own shuttle services for their employees are also making use of mobility solutions offered by Mercedes-Benz Vans.
One example here is the BerlKönig on-demand transport service, which has been offered by Berlin’s BVG public transport company and ViaVan, now Via, since 2018. Another successful example is the BASF Corporate Shuttle at the company’s plant in Ludwigshafen, where employees and visitors can use an app to order a van for transport to another part of the plant site. The SSB Flex on-demand service in Stuttgart uses a fleet of Mercedes-Benz vans to supplement the existing public transport system. Here, passengers use an app to book a ride and a seat and are then assigned to a van with other passengers traveling in the same direction. The first all-electric EQV (combined electrical consumption: 26.4–26.3 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km)1,2, was made part of the SSB Flex fleet at the end of 2020.
Corporate mobility management: How we are achieving more sustainable mobility for our employees
Commutes to and from work and business travel account for a lot of driving. In addition to approaches involving electrification and digitalization we introduced our Corporate Mobility Management (CMM) system in order to reduce the resulting traffic congestion and make such travel more sustainable in general.
The CMM system has been part of the f.l.o.w. mobility initiative since 2018. f.l.o.w., which is a German acronym for “mobility, lifestyle, ecology, and economy,” develops and brings together solutions for reducing traffic congestion and improving traffic flows. Our goal is to reduce the number of road kilometers traveled and thus CO2 emissions as well, and to make traffic in cities more fluid.
About 80,000 men and women work for Daimler in the Stuttgart region. To ensure that they can get to work in as climate-friendly a way as possible and without getting stuck in traffic jams, we are subsidizing their use of public transport such as commuter trains, streetcars, and buses by means of job tickets. In addition, during the reporting year our employees were able to use local public transportation free of charge to travel between their homes and workplaces in the Stuttgart metropolitan region, and for business travel in the region, on days when the city of Stuttgart declared particulate alerts. The costs of these journeys were covered by Daimler.
The “flinc“ ridesharing app was launched at our Sindelfingen site back in 2019. This app is a platform that commuters can use to establish ridesharing networks. We plan to expand the scope of this mobility service in the future.
Innovative urban development: Daimler Buses is driving the transformation of passenger transport
Daimler Buses is already making an important contribution to shaping the future of urban traffic and transportation in a responsible manner. Our electric buses, mobility solutions, and digital services are helping to make public transport increasingly locally emission-free and quieter.
We are putting more electric buses on the road in public transport systems
Daimler Buses is already making an important contribution to ensuring the success of the mobility revolution in passenger transport. Daimler Buses’ goal is to enable sustainable CO2-neutral public transport in cities. Daimler Buses took the first step in this direction as early as 2018 with the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro, and it has continued to further develop its technologies since then. Customers can choose from various electric bus models, battery technologies, and charging options — and find the right solution for their specific requirements and applications.
The eCitaro was available with as many as twelve lithium-ion battery packs in the reporting year; as of 2021 it can be ordered with the next generation of lithium-ion batteries. Daimler Buses also presented the new electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro articulated bus in combination with a new solid-state battery in 2020. The new solid-state batteries have a very high energy density and a total energy capacity of 441 kWh. Thus ensuring a long range and a particularly long battery service life.
The eCitaro is only one part of Daimler Buses’ overall eMobility system, however. After all, it will take more than just the procurement of electric buses to achieve a successful transition to electric mobility in public transport. For example, in order to ensure an efficient and well-functioning urban mobility system, it will also be necessary to take into account the different needs and requirements of the public and private sectors when converting bus fleets to electric drive systems. Daimler Buses’ eMobility consulting team helps local public transport companies here by offering comprehensive advice and support.
Daimler Buses continues to expand its digital services
Digitalization and networking make it possible to increase the efficiency and customization of bus mobility. The OMNIplus ON portal from Daimler Buses integrates and consolidates all the digital services needed for this in a clearly structured manner. For example, bus companies can use the portal to personally access all the services they offer. 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 maintenance or repairs at an early stage.
- ON monitor combines telematics services that provide bus companies with fleet information such as fuel consumption and the latest operating data of a vehicle. Telematics services make it possible to analyze driving styles, locate vehicles, and efficiently plan bus operations. They also help bus companies meet legal documentation requirements regarding the storage of driver cards and bulk data.
- ON drive supports drivers with their daily work. For example, a smartphone can be used to easily perform vehicle tests or access vehicle information (e.g. on tire pressure or fuel tank levels).
- ON commerce allows bus companies to quickly and directly procure spare parts from the OMNIplus eShop.
Daimler Buses is also continuously expanding its digital services. During the reporting year, Daimler Buses launched its new OMNIplus ON SignalStore service. With this service, customers are provided with data packages that they can use to store historical and real-time data points directly from their vehicles on their own system via a data interface. They can then process the data further. Such data includes location data and data on high-voltage batteries, climate control, and ventilation, as well as technical data for error diagnosis.
Another important component of OMNIplus ON is the new digital OMNIplus eShop, which can be used to order all spare and remanufactured parts and components online. Along with the complete product portfolio, the eShop has also included components for individual bus fleets as well as customized spare parts for selected vehicles since 2020. The range of products is being continuously expanded, and plans for the medium term also call for the OMNIplus eShop to offer service contracts and 3D printing of small parts.
Fast, safe, and sustainable: Bus Rapid Transit improves passenger transport
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems enable fast, convenient, and cost-effective mobility. They 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.
Compact, flexible, and economical: Minibuses as a mobility alternative in local public transport
New momentum will be needed if the transformation of mobility in cities and their surrounding areas is to be successful. Urban minibuses such as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 75 play a key role here by increasing the flexibility, scope of application, and profitability of local public transport systems.
Minibuses are an excellent transport option for routes that do not have many passengers, for example. They make it possible to also operate an economical and environmentally friendly public transport service in off-peak hours (e.g. at night and on Sundays), as well as in outlying areas where fewer people travel. In addition, minibuses can be used on narrow or winding routes for which large buses would be too high, too wide, or too heavy. This means minibuses can be used for new routes and new destinations. Minibuses have lower entrances, so their utilization also makes it easier for people with disabilities to use regular local public transport and on-demand transport services.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has also been available with long haul seating since 2020, making the model safer and more comfortable and flexible.
Freight transport: Electric trucks ease the burden on cities
It is not only people who move around in cities — a large volume of goods also needs to be transported within cities 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.
With the fully electric eActros, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is demonstrating that locally emission-free heavy-duty urban distribution transportation is already possible today. The eActros, which has a range of around 200 kilometers, has been used since 2018 by various customers in Europe in everyday operations as a local CO2-neutral alternative for urban distribution haulage. The eActros is being tested here by customers from different business sectors for a variety of applications, including the transport of refrigerated foods and of construction and other materials. The tests will end in 2021, and the launch of series production is scheduled for the same year.
Additional plans call for municipal service companies to begin practical testing of the low-floor battery-electric Mercedes-Benz eEconic truck in 2021. The urban waste disposal sector is considered a very good testing ground for battery-electric trucks due to its relatively short fixed routes of up to around 100 km and the high level of stop-and-go traffic involved. The eEconic, which is based on the eActros, will go into series production in 2022.
Daimler customers around the world have been relying on the Fuso eCanter for light urban distribution haulage operations since 2017. The eCanter’s electric drive system is also locally emission-free. During the reporting year, Mercedes-Benz Trucks delivered additional vehicles to customers in Europe and Japan — and more than 200 light Fuso eCanter trucks were on the road every day in 2020 as a result.
Daimler Trucks offers consulting services and infrastructure solutions for electric trucks
Daimler Trucks offers a comprehensive ecosystem for its electric trucks in order to make the transition to electric transport logistics as easy as possible for customers. This ecosystem includes extensive consulting services and the development of suitable charging infrastructure solutions.
The consulting services, which have a modular structure and are tailored to the specific needs of individual customers, include route and operating cost analyses, a review of available subsidies, and support with operational fleet integration.
Given the numerous options available, Daimler Trucks also helps customers choose the best drive system technology for their needs in line with the given business sector, segment, and specific application. For example, the consulting team determines which type of charging station is most suitable for the customer in question and whether the customer’s mains connection needs to be upgraded, for example. Important factors such as the charging location and charging times are taken into account here.
Daimler Trucks also took a further step toward the future of electric mobility at the beginning of 2020 by launching the worldwide eTruck Charging Initiative to establish a charging infrastructure for battery-electric trucks. The initiative has established a network that brings together all the main players — electric-truck customers, power grid operators, energy suppliers, charging hardware manufacturers, and charging software providers — in an effort to implement shared infrastructure solutions.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks is focusing on digital services
Digitalization is changing the nature of logistics, as processes, objects, and all of the participants along the value chain are being digitally networked. Data and innovative technologies are making new logistics services possible. In the process, vehicles themselves are becoming more extensively linked with logistics processes and therefore need corresponding new properties as standard. With this in mind, Mercedes-Benz Trucks now offers numerous digital services that optimize logistics processes, vehicle fleets, and individual vehicles. The trucks themselves are thus increasingly being transformed into digital service platforms within the framework of the Truck-as-a-Service concept. With services such as HABBL and the new Fleetboard, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is helping its customers increase the productivity of their trucks even further.
Making logistics processes more efficient with HABBL
HABBL is a system that helps business customers conserve resources. Courier, express, and postal service companies, transport and logistics companies, 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. The associated HABBL app takes truck drivers through their logistics workflow step by step, thereby improving process quality. HABBL especially generates added value by
- efficiently communicating the route to be traveled,
- decreasing downtimes and waiting times and thus reducing the amount of space occupied by vehicles, and
- preventing damage by ensuring appropriate handling of cargo.
Optimizing vehicle fleets with Fleetboard
Mercedes-Benz Trucks develops and markets Fleetboard — telematics solutions that ensure the best possible management of fleets. Mercedes-Benz Trucks established a new technological foundation for the telematics system during the year under review by transferring the Fleetboard portal to Microsoft Azure Cloud. All Fleetboard services have been available via Microsoft Azure Cloud since September 2020. In the future, these services will be updated at shorter intervals and expanded to include new features.
The new Fleetboard user interface also offers new possibilities for vehicle monitoring with a live vehicle positioning system that updates a truck’s GPS position every 30 seconds. Fleetboard can also be used to plan routes and calculate tolls due. In addition, the application now for the first time provides centralized information on whether and how driver assistance systems have been used in vehicles. For example, it shows when the driver turns off the emergency braking system or the Lane Keeping Assist system. The Fleetboard Manager app also offers drivers basic telematics functions by displaying the vehicle’s CO2 emissions, GPS positions, routes, and fuel consumption. It also evaluates driving styles and points out fuel-savings potential.
Strategic investments in the future of mobility
Daimler acts as a strategic investor in the growing market for urban mobility services via Daimler Mobility AG. Among other things, Daimler Mobility AG and the BMW Group have teamed up in the YOUR NOW joint ventures, in which the two partners have an equal interest. The YOUR NOW mobility services combine solutions for ride hailing, carsharing, and parking services with multimodal platforms and the charging of electric vehicles.
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 known as StarRides was launched in Hangzhou, China at the end of 2019. StarRides was also launched in the Chinese cities of Chengdu, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an during 2020. Daimler Mobility has also held an interest in the Berlin-based chauffeur and concierge services provider Blacklane since 2013. In addition, Daimler Mobility has invested in other mobility services such as Bolt and Turo.
More sustainable mobility with YOUR NOW
Mobility services from the YOUR NOW companies can contribute to making urban mobility more sustainable. For example, the carsharing provider SHARE NOW operates more than 2,150 electric vehicles throughout Europe. SHARE NOW uses fully electric vehicle fleets 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 page. FREE NOW intends to further increase the share of such vehicles in the overall fleet. 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.
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” with its associated pioneering mobility and transport solutions make an important contribution to improving urban quality of life. For this reason, the initiative has also been integrated into the Daimler AG management system. The individual activities within the “Livable Cities” area of action are evaluated on the basis of the respective targets of the division responsible. We communicate extensively with representatives of cities and leading experts in the fields of urban development and traffic/transport development. Here too, we receive valuable suggestions and ideas for new strategic initiatives. In addition, we make use of their feedback to review and improve our concepts.
1 The electricity consumption was determined on the basis of Commission Regulation (EC) No. 692/2008. Electricity consumption is dependent on the vehicle configuration.
2 The actual range is also dependent on individual driving style, road and traffic conditions, outside temperature, use of air conditioning/heating systems etc. and may therefore differ.