Recently we visited Stuttgart to attend the Sprinter Innovation Campus (SIC). This is where Mercedes Benz hosts over 200 delegates to see one of their best performing commercial vehicle, the Sprinter, in all its facets. This resonates with the message we have been spreading here at Khulekani on Wheels, understood at a more intimate level, vehicles (especially commercial vehicles) can mean more for you than just a means to move you or your goods fro point A to point B. This is what Mercedes Benz tried to show at the SIC.
The SIC started with an address by an MIT professor who looked at the logistics issues affecting major cities, and how technology could be integrated into transport solutions to resolve this. After that, we were then broken into smaller groups for the rest the day. In the smaller groups we participated in 7 presentations, each focusing on a different aspect of the upcoming Sprinter.
Memorable groups included experiencing the seats of the 2018 Sprinter. These are very comfortable,wide and well suited for our mini-bus industry. Passengers travelling long distance will enjoy these.
Although it might take long to come to our industry in South Africa, we were introduced to the Sprinter’s technological innovations which aim to connect the driver and his supervisor back at the warehouse for the ease of the delivery of goods.
We also got to see the Sprinter as a public transport vehicle. In respect of the former, technology will also be used for allowing for restocking of the van overnight thus maximising the time the Sprinter has to deliver goods. In terms of the latter, it is intended that the Sprinter will be in constant communication with the commuters at different location in order to reduce waiting and commute times.
The other notable stand was that which showcased the eSprinter which will not come next year but at a later stage. The eSprinter will be an all electric vehicle. Mercedes Benz aims to give the batteries a 7 year life cycle. We got to a sneak peak at how much the eSprinter will save for a fleet operator and how a fleet operator will be able to compare the performance of the eSprinter vehicles in his cars compared to those running on fuel.
Finally, we got to experience the dashboard of the new Sprinter. Mercedes Benz has everyone in mind with the dashboard of their new Sprinter. There are very basic interiors for the more industrial worker and very luxurious options for the more discerning consumer who experts more from their work vehicle. Let’s face it; some owners still expect that extra luxury associated with the Mercedes Benz even in a Sprinter van. Additionally, the more upmarket versions will feature clever compartments above the dashboard. There will also be compartments for storing cell phones and other bits, and bobs.
Our visit was not all about the SIC, we also got to see the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant. As the lead plant, the facility in Sindelfingen steers the production of the S-Class and E-Class model series within the global production network at Mercedes-Benz. The plant is a masterpiece complete with its own hospital and fire station. As if that was not enough, we got to see the Mercedes Benz Museum. Here more than 160 vehicles covering a period of over 100 years of automotive history are on display.
Our host from Mercedes Benz SA was generous enough to throw in a tour of the city in the Stuttgart 24-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus. You can get on and off the bus as often as you like at 9 bus stops in the Stuttgart metropolitan area. Alternatively, you can stay on the bus and enjoy the flair of the city from your seat on a 100-minute round trip.
Cheers Stuttgart, till we meet again…
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