Futuristic Mercedes-Benz unveiled in Tokyo
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Mobile club lounge for young, urban trendsetters
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its futuristic five-seater autonomous vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show.
The Mercedes-Benz "Vision Tokyo" concept vehicle combines the concept of an automotive lounge with a self-driving vehicle, built for a crowded city such as Tokyo.
The German company says Tokyo has around nine million people living in an area of 622 square kilometres, an area smaller than Paris but with more than four times as many people.
Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Daimler AG: "The Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo embodies the concept of an automotive lounge for a future generation of megacities. The purity and sensuality of the Vision Tokyo's styling defines a new interpretation of modern luxury from Mercedes-Benz."
The project aims to show how the car of the future can be turned into a "hip living space - a chill-out zone in the midst of megacity traffic mayhem."
Mercedes-Benz says the vehicle pays homage to urban Generation Z, people born since 1995 who have grown up with the new media.
"The role of the vehicle has changed for this global generation: it is no longer simply a means of getting around, but a digital, automobile companion.
"The Vision Tokyo takes things another step further: innovative algorithms allow it to evolve constantly; Deep Machine Learning and an intelligent Predictive Engine mean that, with each journey, it becomes more and more familiar with its occupants, their likes and preferences. All of which makes the Vision Tokyo the perfect partner for Generation Z."
The spaciousness of the Vision Tokyo marks a new conceptual approach for Mercedes-Benz Cars. These proportions are emphasised by the monochrome Alubeam paintwork and by side windows screen-printed in the colour of the vehicle. These give the vehicle's occupants privacy, while at the same time allowing sufficient light to penetrate into the interior and an unimpeded view out.
Surfaces and lines illuminated in blue – among them the 26-inch wheels and the side skirts – provide colour highlights and are indicative of the concept car's emission-free electric drive system. A pointer to the potential for autonomous operation and the comprehensive system of vehicle environment sensors that this requires, including a 360-degree camera, is provided by the fin on the vehicle roof.
Instead of a conventional windscreen, the Vision Tokyo features a continuous stretch of glass panelling – similar to the glazed cockpit of a powerboat. The front headlamps are set well to either side and at an angle.
The area across the front of the vehicle can be used to display a series of different lighting functions. If music is playing inside the vehicle the display will, for example, visualise a sound pattern, rather like a sound analyser. The rear window is set into a surrounding ring of red LED cubes, which gives it visual depth. Once again, the LED field can be put to good use – as an indicator display or as part of the analyser function.
The dimensions of the Vision Tokyo (length/width/height: 4803/2100/1600 mm) are comparable with those of a mid-series vehicle. Up to five passengers access the interior via the upward-swinging door on the left-hand side – ideal for the right-hand-drive traffic in Japan's megacity.
The conventional seating arrangement in rows is thus redundant, while there is also no "front" or "back" here: passengers take their seats instead on a large, oval-shaped couch. This unique lounge-style arrangement allows everyone on board to enjoy the benefits of autonomous driving.
For even though the members of "Generation Z" are frequent users of social media, they nevertheless prefer personal contact whenever possible. And it is for this face‑to-face communication that the seat layout has been optimised. As a contemporary-style club lounge, the Vision Tokyo brings people together. With the car in autonomous driving mode they are able to chill and chat, without having to worry about steering a way through the dense traffic.
Behind the passengers are large wraparound LED screens. The perforated seats are back-lit, giving rise to a high-tech ambience that presents an intentional contrast to the soft surface finish of the pale leather. Apps, maps and displays emanating from the entertainment system are presented as three-dimensional holograms within the interior space.
Should there be a requirement for the Vision Tokyo to be controlled manually rather than it driving autonomously, a seat facing in the direction of travel can be released from the centre of the couch at the front, rather like the "jump seat" in an aircraft cockpit. The steering wheel, too, is then moved from its standby position into driving position.
The bodyshell of the Vision Tokyo has been designed to allow the crash-protected integration of a fuel cell-powered electric drive system. This is based on the trailblazing F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID of the F 015 Luxury in Motion and combines the on-board generation of electricity with a particularly powerful and compact high-voltage battery that can be charged contactlessly via induction.
The use of pressure tanks made from CFRP is envisaged for the storage of hydrogen in the concept car. The electric hybrid system has a total range of 980 kilometres, of which some 190 kilometres are courtesy of battery-powered driving and around 790 kilometres on the electricity produced in the fuel cell.