Mercedes-Benz Vision Van – Exterior ; Mercedes-Benz Vision Van – Exterior;

With focus largely placed on its luxurious passenger cars, it’s easy to forget that Mercedes-Benz also has a commercial vehicle division that is just as important. Its new Mercedes-Benz Vision Van concept shows that Stuttgart is hard at work on a future for the van industry.

This electric cargo mover is unique not just in its propulsion, but also the fact that it is fully connected at every step of the delivery process, from the goods delivery depot to the consignee. Order picking, package loading, fully-automated cargo space management and route planning are all handled using algorithms, which also compute the ideal delivery routes for the package deliverers.

At the logistics centre, the order is picked automatically, and the consignments are loaded into special racking systems – those racks are loaded into the Vision Van via driverless handling vehicles, using an automated one-shot loading process.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Van - Exterior ; Mercedes-Benz Vision Van - Exterior;

Once the van has reached its destination, a cargo space management system transfers packages to an onboard package dispenser, where they are handed to the deliverer for manual delivery. Alternatively, there are also two drones that can deliver consignments autonomously within a radius of 10 km, each with a payload of two kilograms.

Power comes from a 75 kW (100 hp) electric motor, and the Vision Van has a range of 270 km between charges. The zero-emissions powertrain enables the vehicle to provide inter-city deliveries even after planned bans on vehicles with internal combustion engines are enforced, while its virtually silent nature allows for late-night deliveries in residential areas for the purposes of same-day delivery.

The vehicle uses cloud-based control software and optimum hardware to increase efficiency and reduce delivery time, raising the quality and flexibility of delivery services in urban environments. It opens up new options for same-day and time-definite delivery, improving convenience for the end-user and practically eliminating failed and false deliveries.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Van – Interior ; Mercedes-Benz Vision Van – Interior;

The minimalist design of the Vision Van is defined by the visor-like wraparound windscreen, a Black Panel front grille, arrow-shaped LED headlights and full-width tail lights. Displays with LED technology are incorporated in the grille and at the rear, communicating with the surrounding environment – warnings appear when the vehicle stops, when the drones take off or when the deliverer alights, for example.

Inside, the traditional steering, pedals and gearlever have been dispensed with, in favour of a simple joystick controller – this also provides the driver with unimpeded entry and egress, as well as freedom of movement within the cabin. The driver is also able to move the seat further forward to increase floor space, which is flat due to the elimination of a traditional drive line.

Ahead sits a sweeping arc of a dashboard covered in fabric, with a full-width display showing all information such as speed, route planning information and drone flight data. The floor communicates with the driver using LED indicators shining through the stainless steel panel, warning of approaching obstacles such as pedestrians and cyclists. A driver’s info terminal next to the aforementioned package dispenser provides relevant information on the delivery process.