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The Mercedes-Benz Vision Van and the Future of Supply Chain Logistics

Corporate supply chain logistics might not seem interesting to most, but it has been and will continue to be a testing grounds for alternative transportation ideas like electric/hybrid drive, automation, and vehicle sharing. If long haul shipping businesses can save some cash with more efficient diesel engines or air dynamic side spoilers, they will make the investment more quickly than the average joe. This is why the Mercedes-Benz Vision Van could present a realistic opportunity to see how some next-gen ideas, especially automated electric transit, could be implemented in the very near future.

From Mercedes-Benz:

  • Mercedes-Benz Vans launches future initiative adVANce to expand its growth strategy and develop new business models
  • Investments of approximately 500 million euros over the next five years for digitalisation, automation and robotics in vans as well as innovative mobility solutions
  • New organisational unit within the start-up scene in Stuttgart, Berlin and Silicon Valley – approximately 200 employees already work on numerous projects
  • Close cooperation with start-ups, including first strategic investments – among others in Matternet
  • All-electric “Vision Van” van study with a range of up to 270 km, fully automated cargo space and integrated drones

The fleet emission average for delivery vans, trucks and big rigs is 10.17 kg CO2 per gallon of diesel consumed. Delivery vans and trucks average about 7.8 mpg (or 1.3 kg of CO2 per mile) while big rigs average about 5.3 mpg (or 1.92 kg of CO2 per mile). –NCEP

Transit trucks, which make multiple stops and are frequently left in idle by the drivers, would benefit greatly from automation and electrification.  Diesel engines spew tons of particulate matter into localized urban areas. The problems are especially exacerbated by urban city blocks, which trap pollutants in avenues and streets.   Electric trucks would nullify this problem by transferring the pollution to power plants which, hopefully, will continue to become more clean in the future.   Electric trucks in urban areas would make full use of regenerative braking and eliminate the idling problem.

So while most are intrigued by 0-60 mph of the next electric supercar, corporate delivery trucks could demonstrate a new, fascinating approach to modern transportation.  This new way of thinking could open the doors to mainstream drive automation, more efficient ride sharing applications, driver-less taxi services, and other beneficial transportation ideas that could never have been fathomed 20 years ago.