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Mercedes-Benz Sprinter now more connected than ever

Off the clock: While a fleet manager will be able to track where commercial vehicles are with Mercedes Pro Connect, users will be able to switch on a private mode to use during weekends that will not log locational data.

MBUX and Mercedes Pro Connect bring unprecedented connectivity to new Sprinter van

Mercedes-Benz logo9 Feb 2018

By TUNG NGUYEN in DUISBURG, GERMANY

MERCEDES-BENZ Vans’ new-generation Sprinter large van will offer a more holistic approach to commercial fleet management that addresses the rise of digitisation with the inclusion of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system and Mercedes Pro Connect.

Only the second vehicle to be confirmed to receive the new MBUX system after the A-Class small car, the inclusion of the high-tech infotainment equipment allows for mobile Wi-Fi hot-spotting, as well as driver profile switching.

With a screen size up to 10.25-inches, MBUX will also sport natural speech recognition for voice-activated controls of vehicle functions including air-conditioning settings and satellite navigation data – all underpinned by a six-core processor, 8GB of RAM and an nVidia-sourced graphics processing unit.

Speaking to Australian journalists during the reveal of the new Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz Vans Sprinter overall project manager Ulf Zillig said the addition of MBUX will make it easier for drivers who spend large amounts of time behind the wheel.

“The MBUX also helps out customers endure their work because there we can … use all the functionality from the connectivity side,” he said.

“It’s the best platform to share all the information, and it helps the driver and different drivers in one car to have their own application because it learns how the driver behaves and wants to install and adapt all the systems.” Dr Zillig said the similar launch timing of MBUX and the new Sprinter allowed the inclusion of the high-tech system in the light-commercial vehicle.

“It’s a platform in our company, and we always share the platform,” he said. “This time we’re not the first followers, which is normally our philosophy, we are directly in first stage.

“The life cycles of the vehicles on the van side are normally around eight to 12 years – depends on the vehicle size – and on the passenger side its only around about four to six years. Therefore, we have to stay on the newest platform, otherwise you get trouble in the life cycle.

“There are many aspects to using the newest technology from (our) passenger car colleagues, to be safe for the long period in the lifetime, or the longer period in the van business compared to the car business.” When asked if it makes sense for MBUX to proliferate across the van division's other vehicles, including the Vito mid-size van and incoming X-Class pick-up, Mercedes-Benz Vans head of Sprinter project management Norbert Kunz said “for sure”.

Similarly, the debut of Mercedes Pro Connect – a fleet management service run by the German car-maker that is available independently of MBUX – will enable features such as digital log-book recording, vehicle location tracking and service interval notifications.

Available in eight connectivity packages, Mercedes-Benz is promising the service will streamline management and optimise data analysis to reduce overall fleet administration costs.

Dr Zillig said Mercedes Pro Connect was designed from the ground-up with business customers in mind.

“Mercedes Pro Connect is specially developed especially for our commercial customers, because we have on the other side the passenger-car people (that) have the Mercedes Me, and that’s why we said: ‘ok, we have to have a clear understanding what the customer needs in our services,” he said.

“Therefore we have MBUX and included Mercedes Pro (Connect).” Both MBUX and Mercedes Pro Connect will feature smartphone integration, with the latter offering an application that can be used to view vehicle data such as fuel levels or used to lock and unlock the cargo area remotely.

Unlike traditional paper records, Mr Kunz said the data logged and stored by Mercedes Pro Connect will be secure and tamper-proof.

“In Europe, you need to have a driver’s log to know what times you work and when did this driver drive the car.

“You can do it manually, you have to sign it … and with Mercedes Pro and all the data connection, we are now able to do a digital logbook, which is fine for the authorities. It is much easier, you don’t have to do it by hand and it’s secure because it’s on the system – you cannot manipulate the system.

“So it helps the owner of the fleet, it helps the driver, it helps the authorities to avoid some work.”

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