Mercedes Benz makes move to back startups as it looks to the future

By Oliver Griffin September 7, 2016

Mercedes Benz has made clear its intention to focus on the future after announcing plans to work closely with startups across the world, including a number of investments. 

The move is part of the company’s new initiative adVANce, which Mercedes hopes will expand its growth strategy and development of new business models.

The car maker plans to make €500m worth of investments over the next five years. One of Mercedes’ first startup investments as a result will be in US startup Matternet, a drone logistics developer.

The startup said that, through the partnership, Matternet and Mercedes had joined forces to create an integrated delivery solution that will “transform how people receive lightweight goods on demand”. Matternet has also unveiled its second- generation drone, Matternet M2.

Andreas Raptopoulos, co-founder and CEO of Matternet, said, “In Mercedes-Benz Vans, we found a partner that is not only synonymous with quality, safety, reliability and efficiency, but is also willing to imagine and create the future of transportation with us.

“We are driven by a common vision to automate last-mile logistics, which today is the least efficient and most expensive part of logistics. Through this partnership, we are building solutions that will dramatically reduce the time and cost of on-demand delivery.”

Vision Van from Mercedes Benz

The result of this partnership is the so-called Vision Van. An all-electric vehicle, the Vision Van combines solutions for last-mile delivery in urban and suburban environments.

Mercedes said the Vision Van would be the first in the world to fully digitally connect all people and processes involved, from the distribution centre to the consignee. It will also be the first to boast fully automated cargo space and integrated delivery drones.

This should mean – if things go to plan – that delivery guys and gals in the future can stop their vehicles in a residential area and then deliver multiple packages to nearby consignees autonomously by air. This is in addition to manual delivery, obviously.

“With the Vision Van from Mercedes-Benz Vans we provide an idea of future generations of vans,” said MB’s head of vans, Volker Mornhinweg.

“The intelligent automation technology connects the entire process, from loading and transportation by road through to delivery to the consignee. This makes it easier for the deliverer to do business and rapidly reduces the delivery time for end customers.

“Equipped with an electric drive system, the Vision Van not only operates locally emission-free, it also moves almost silently. This means that it can be operated in cities even during times when there are traffic restrictions or for late-night deliveries in residential areas. This gives our customers the possibility of offering new services to their customers.”

As part of the new, pun-tastic adVANce initiative, Mercedes has also launched a new organizational unit within the start-up scene with locations in Stuttgart, Berlin and Silicon Valley. The company said approximately 200 employees already work on “numerous projects”, whatever that means.


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