Daimler's first vehicle to lose the steering wheel and pedals is here.
After last week’s teaser, Smart has decided to fully reveal its latest concept car ahead of showing it in the metal at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. The Vision EQ ForTwo takes the shape of a fully electric two seater developed for city use and fitted with an advanced autonomous driving system. It’s not being envisioned as a personal vehicle as instead Smart sees it embodying the future of car sharing.
Being a concept, it means Smart had the freedom to go all out and overhaul the ForTwo Electric Drive we have to day and turn it into this 2030 city car with a more rounded body and smart (get it?) looks. For example, those aren’t actually regular headlights and taillights as the Vision EQ has been fitted with LED screens instead. The grille is also one large digital panel capable of displaying multiple messages as a way to communicate with other cars on the road. Another ace up its sleeve is represented by the special film applied onto the side windows to project information from the inside.
Speaking of the interior, getting inside the minimalistic cabin is done through the two doors that pivot close to the body towards the rear to save space and also to reduce the risks of accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians. You won’t find any conventional controls as everything you will need is going to be on that wide display. Since this is a fully autonomous car, the steering wheel and pedals are a thing of the past, thus freeing up more room inside the tiny cabin.
A lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 30 kWh is at the heart of the Vision EQ ForTwo and can be charged inductively, which will eliminate the hassle of having to use a charging cable. Smart says the battery can be charged independently when the car is not in use and can also act as a “swarm battery” to stabilize the electricity grid.
The Vision EQ also serves as a preview of what to expect from Daimler’s electrified push as part of the newly established EQ brand, which is set to include more than 10 production EVs by 2022. These will range in size from a pint-sized Smart model to a large SUV carrying the three-pointed star badge.
Gallery: 2017 Smart Vision EQ concept
Autonomous concept car smart vision EQ fortwo: Welcome to the future of car sharing
Stuttgart. The smart vision EQ fortwo provides a new vision of urban mobility and individualised, highly flexible, totally efficient local public transport: the autonomous concept vehicle picks up its passengers directly from their chosen location. New individualisation options help users to recognise that it is "their" vehicle: by means of the Black Panel Grille at the front as well as large projection surfaces at the sides, the smart vision EQ fortwo allows unprecedented individualisation of the vehicle, ideal for car sharing. Freed from the task of driving, the passengers are able to relax in the large interior. The show car is the first vehicle from the Daimler Group to take the logical step of dispensing with a steering wheel and pedals.
The smart vision EQ fortwo is also a car in which all of the individual fields of expertise that make up the CASE corporate strategy are combined, allowing users in the city intuitive access to individual mobility. CASE stands for the strategic pillars of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric).
With the electrically powered smart vision EQ fortwo, smart is presenting a concept vehicle from the relatively recent product and technology brand EQ at the 2017 Frankfurt International Motor Show. More than ten new electric cars are set to go into series production at Mercedes-Benz Cars by 2022, from the smart to the large SUV. smart took the first step back in 2007 with the smart electric drive and today optionally offers all its models with an electric powertrain.
"The smart vision EQ fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric," says smart CEO Annette Winkler. "With the smart vision EQ fortwo, we are giving a face to the themes with which Mercedes-Benz Cars describes the vision of future mobility within the CASE strategy."
Shared: The smart vision EQ fortwo is a new vision of car sharing. Because transforming "urban traffic" into "city flow" in future will not only benefit the users but the public at large too, cities and municipal authorities are also a target group for future car sharing concepts from smart. Currently, a car2go vehicle is hired somewhere in the world every 1.4 seconds. At present car2go has over 2.6 million customers worldwide – and the number is growing all the time. The latest studies predict that the number of users of car sharing schemes worldwide will have quintupled by 2025 to 36.7 million. One of the factors that make car2go so popular is that free-floating car sharing is spontaneous and flexible. The car does not have to be picked up from or taken back to a specific location. It can be hired and left anywhere in the designated "home" area.
Autonomous: The smart vision EQ fortwo concept vehicle demonstrates how autonomous driving could make future car sharing even more convenient, simple and economically efficient. Thanks to swarm intelligence and autonomous driving, the smart vision EQ fortwo heralds a new era in car sharing: users do not have to look for the next available car – it will find them and collect the passengers directly from their chosen location. And thanks to swarm intelligence and the resulting predictability of demand, it will probably already be nearby, making the journey to pick up a "hire car" a thing of the past. The interconnected vehicles are always on the road. Utilisation increases and at the same time the amount of traffic and the number of parking spaces required in urban areas are reduced.
Connected: The smart vision EQ fortwo is summoned using a mobile device. New individualisation options help users to recognise that it is "their" vehicle: the Black Panel at the front (size: 44 inches/105 x 40 cm) as well as large projection surfaces at the sides allow the smart vision EQ fortwo to be personalised. LED displays in place of the headlamps can echo a classic look (from sporty to neutral) or take on an eye-like shape, which allows the vehicle to communicate on a more human level. The rear lamps can also have a conventional look or provide detailed information - for example warnings or traffic information. The front radiator grille serves on the one hand to add a personal touch and on the other to communicate with other road users (e.g. information for pedestrians crossing the road). The doors of the show car are coated with a film that can be activated as required. If the car is unoccupied, information about local events, the weather, news or the time can be displayed. The smart's Black Panel Grille indicates whether the car is occupied by one or by two passengers.
Those who want can use the 1+1 sharing function to make contact with other interesting users. Possible passengers are suggested on the basis of their saved profiles and current travel plans, and can be accepted or rejected. When two passengers are on board, the large display in the interior shows shared interests such as concerts they have recently attended or sports that they play. The extra time gained as a result of travelling in an autonomous vehicle can be used to chat and interact.
Electric: The smart vision EQ fortwo features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 30 kWh. When not in use, it makes its way independently to a charging station to load up with new energy. Alternatively, the cars can dock with the power grid inductively, feed in electricity and act as a "swarm battery", taking pressure off the grid. smart is playing a key role here in shaping the energy revolution.
Design: urban lifestyle of the future
The smart vision EQ fortwo (length/width/height: 2699/1720/1535 mm) is a cool two-seater and, like all smart models, scores with a maximum of room in a minimum of space. The vehicle communicates by means of a Black Panel Grille and LED displays, which replace headlamps and tail lamps. The side windows are covered with a special film onto which information can be projected from inside. The front area of the interior features a Black Panel Display for user interface activities.
"The smart vision EQ fortwo embodies the urban luxury of the future. It is a radical approach with a cool and minimalist design. The show car has the hallmark smart proportions, with accentuated, pronounced wheel arches at the four corners and with no overhang," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. "A multiplicity of digital surfaces inside and outside allows the next level of communication between human and automobile. The customer is able to personalise the vehicle according to their individual needs."
Exterior: hallmark smart proportions, new door concept
The exterior is like a piece of jewellery with a receptacle symbolically encircling a precious pearl. With the "one-and-a-half box" design, the pronounced, powerful wheel arches and the short overhangs at the front and rear, the proportions are typically smart.
The new door concept is a distinctive feature. To save space, the two doors pivot wing-like over the rear axle, making access easier and creating a fascinating architecture. The door concept also reduces the danger of collision with cyclists and pedestrians.
Rose gold-coloured, three-dimensional elements in the wheels and in the diffuser allude to the electric drive system and create a bridge to the hallmark EQ design. The side windows have a tapering hexagonal look.
The clear, future-oriented exterior design is reinforced by white metallic surfaces and dark-tinted glass surfaces. In a contemporary and technological manner, the smart plays with colour on the exterior by means of a large number of display graphics.
Interior: generous space, intelligent stowage
The colour scheme of the smart vision EQ fortwo features a cool and futuristic look which is combined with warm touches of rose gold.
The show car is the first of the Daimler Group's vehicles to take the logical step of dispensing with the steering wheel and pedals. The vehicle functions are controlled via personal mobile device or voice input, an arrangement that is intuitive, convenient and hygienic. Dispensing with conventional control elements makes the white interior appear even more spacious. The dashboard is replaced by a 24‑inch (58.5 x 15.6 cm) screen which is surrounded by a rose gold-coloured frame. The outer edges feature two smaller displays (four-inch), which can be used by the smart vision EQ fortwo for example to say "Welcome".
Covered with a new, innovative and high-quality man-made leather, the white seats are easy to clean and therefore compatible with the idea of sharing. The lounge-like bench seat offers room for up to two passengers. If required, a retractable centre armrest creates a separation between the occupants or serves as a stowage facility. The white interior creates a generous impression of space.
Further, intelligent stowage options are available on the floor and under the bench seat. Luggage and personal accessories can be secured under blue rubber tightening straps.
A large number of digital surfaces both inside and outside allow a new level of communication between human and automobile with regard to all aspects of autonomous driving and car sharing. The vehicle's colours and screens adapt to its customers, offering a private sanctuary in the bustling city. The user is thus also given the possibility to personalise the vehicle and adapt it to their needs.
CASE – these letters are shaping the future of mobility. They stand for the fields of networking (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric). The four CASE fields are an integral part of the corporate strategy of Daimler AG. The aim is to shape intuitive mobility for our customers through intelligent dovetailing of the CASE topics.
Mercedes-Benz Cars already plays a leading role in all four areas today. For example, all activities in the area of connectivity are focused on the digital brand Mercedes me, which gives customers access to an extensive and personalised range of services by app, website or straight from their car.
On the way to autonomous driving, Mercedes-Benz has for years been a key driver of development and has repeatedly set the benchmark. To this end, the Mercedes engineers use what is known as sensor fusion. The data from different sensors, such as cameras, ultrasound and radar, are intelligently combined and analysed. With smart vision EQ fortwo, the smart brand is also demonstrating what driving without a steering wheel could look like in the future of carsharing.
The inventor of the car is already playing a leading role in the field of Sharing & Services. The mobility services used by over 14.5 million people range from free-floating carsharing (car2go) and private peer-to-peer carsharing (Croove), through ride-hailing (mytaxi) to the mobility platform (moovel).
Mercedes-Benz is pursuing a holistic approach to powertrain electrification. Apart from the EQ brand with a family of vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is also developing a holistic ecosystem, which, alongside the vehicle itself, also comprises a comprehensive electric mobility offering. This extends from intelligent services and energy storage units for private and commercial customers to charging technologies and sustainable recycling. On the road to emission-free driving Daimler is systematically pursuing a three-lane drive system strategy in order to implement maximum environmental compatibility across all vehicle classes (incl. commercial vehicles, vans) – with an intelligent mix of the latest combustion engines and partial electrification through 48-volt technology, tailor-made EQ Power plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles with battery or fuel cell drive systems.