Mercedes-Benz Bets on a Suburban Future

From a new Silicon Valley facility, Mercedes' R&D department is developing car-share services based on a vision of 21st-century suburbs. The company is also testing self-driving prototypes and electric models.

1 minute read

October 12, 2015, 6:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Mercedes Benz Suburbs

Axion23 / Flickr

Acknowledging the burgeoning market for urban transit options, including rideshare and traditional public transit, "Mercedes contends that even forces as unsettling to incumbent businesses as the sharing economy won't supplant individual car ownership — especially in the burbs."

From a new facility in Silicon Valley, Mercedes' North American R&D department is working on how to cater to affluent, tech-savvy suburbanites. "In the company's vision, city dwellers might eventually rely more regularly on public transit or on-demand rides from companies like Uber, but they'd still also seek short-term car rentals from providers like Zipcar or Mercedes sister company Car2Go."

Benz is currently offering app-based services like Moovel, a subsidiary providing car-share, bikeshare, and rides on demand. The company is using Palo Alto as a testing ground for Boost by Benz, a ride service catering to parents with school-age children. On the self-driving front, "Mercedes-Benz now has a prototype self-driving S-500 sedan outfitted with eight radar systems and three cameras."

As for sustainability and electric options, Mercedes has yet to unveil any concrete plans. But the R&D team sees low-emissions goals and their other next-gen projects as intrinsically linked.

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