The technical basis is the communication module (LTE) now installed in all Sprinter variants which forms the interface between fleet manager (web-based vehicle management tool) and driver (using Mercedes Apps)

The technical basis is the communication module (LTE) now installed in all Sprinter variants which forms the interface between fleet manager (web-based vehicle management tool) and driver (using Mercedes Apps)

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Vans claims its redesigned Sprinter large van line sets new standards for digitisation and connectivity as it launches 18 'Mercedes PRO' digital services in eight telematics packages, offered free of charge in Germany until September.

PRO is the Vans' brand for all current and future services, solutions and digital services designed for fleets to optimise communication between fleet manager, vehicles and drivers.

The connectivity allows online controlling of orders and practically real-time retrieval of vehicle information such as location, fuel level or maintenance intervals. M-B said advantages range from minimised downtimes, as a consequence of proactive maintenance and repair management, to clearly presented data for business analysis purposes. All fleets can benefit from the web-based service - from small businesses to key accounts.

The technical basis is the communication module (LTE) now installed in all Sprinter variants which forms the interface between fleet manager (web-based vehicle management tool) and driver (using Mercedes Apps).

The optional MBUX – the Sprinter's new 'Human Machine Interface' (HMI) that is leading the way in the van segment – is said to be "particularly user-friendly for the driver".

Fleet users are offered eight packages with 18 services with a product advisor available, at no cost, to help business customers choose packages that fit their fleet and their business. This process takes account of such parameters such as the industry, fleet size, annual mileage or route planning dynamics.

The packages are:

  • Optimised Assistance – for planning service and maintenance work, better appointment and cost transparency, and reduced downtimes
  • Efficient Fleet Management – for fast and flexible planning, better utilisation of fleet capacity thanks to transparency regarding vehicle location and status
  • Improved Navigation – optimises route planning based on real-time traffic data, up to date map data, and the option of directly sending Points-of-Interests (POIs) to the vehicle as navigation destinations
  • Efficient Driving Style Analysis – data on driving style that can be used to optimise fuel consumption
  • Simplified Fleet Communication – optimises connection between driver and fleet manager, who can send messages directly to PRO App and allocate assignments interactively, quickly and directly
  • Digital Records – allows saving of completed routes, eg for separate administration of business and private journeys
  • Mobile Vehicle Access – increases anti-theft protection and improves working processes as vehicle can be checked and locked remotely; also possible to open vehicle without key
  • Data Interfaces Mercedes-Benz Vans – integrate vehicles into existing fleet management software

Expansion on modular construction principle

"One of the particular advantages is the modular and scalable structure of the system," said Bjorn Sack, Vans' head of connectivity and digital services.

"Fleet managers are able to choose precisely the connectivity services that make the working day of the drivers and themselves easier. Smaller and medium-size fleets also benefit from evaluations and analyses that were previously only affordable for large fleets with stand-alone solutions.

"Existing services are being updated continually, and further services are being added to the portfolio. The necessary telematics are deeply integrated into the structure of the vehicle."

Unlike rival makers' large vans, Mercedes said, the Sprinter's communication module (LTE) with high speed internet connection for digital services is not tied to the installation of expensive infotainment options. Use is also possible in models without MBUX.

The optional MBUX multimedia system (seven- or 10.25-inch touchscreen display) can be controlled using steering wheel controls, touchscreen or a newly developed voice control system.

When used with the PRO services, MBUX responds to "Hey Mercedes" commands and detects expressions used in normal speech. If the driver says "The tank is empty", the infotainment system replies with suggested filling stations nearby or along the indicated route. The navigation application in the Improved Navigation option package also displays information such as fuel prices and weather data. Artificial intelligence enables the telematics to 'learn' a user by previous behaviour and suggest suitable destinations, contacts or radio stations.

MBUX can also use the new 'what3words' address system. Mercedes-Benz claims to be the first automaker to use this coordinate system which has divided the world into squares measuring three by three metres and assigned a unique three-word address to each square. It says this makes navigation to places without an exact address even simpler and more precise.

Sack added: "We are setting standards in the commercial segment. We offer our customers a premium-class user experience: functional, application-specific, efficient and intelligent."

The services initially are available in 19 European markets and will be launched in the US in the third quarter of 2018.