INCOMING head of Mercedes-Benz Vehicles and Daimler AG chairman of the board of administration Ola Kaellenius has listed totally autonomous driving as probably the most important problem for the corporate going ahead in a time of huge change within the automotive trade.
Chatting with Australian journalists on the international first drive of the brand new EQC all-electric SUV in Oslo, Mr Kaellenius mentioned the prospect of making a self-driving automobile able to Stage four and Stage 5 autonomy was arguably the most important engineering downside the corporate has ever confronted.
“The subject of autonomous drive … is definitely from a technical perspective essentially the most refined technical downside that we’ve ever tried to resolve if you happen to have a look at all the way in which to a Stage four/5 robotaxi-like factor for a chaotic metropolis,” he mentioned.
Mr Kaellenius added that the change in the way in which mobility companies are seen with the arrival of autonomy would even have a profound impact on the automotive trade.
“That one has – maybe in the long run – the most important disruption potential as a result of in a shared state of affairs, and that’s the fourth pattern – mobility companies – that will considerably decrease the price per mile,” he mentioned.
“And each time when you’ve a very good or a service the place the price curve will get parallel-shifted downwards, one thing often occurs with the demand.”
With some producers making claims of full autonomous driving functionality in coming years, Mr Kaellenius took a extra cautious strategy, saying that full autonomy for the three-pointed star model was nonetheless a method off.
An actual timeline has nonetheless not been disclosed, nonetheless the subsequent step within the course of shall be introducing Stage three autonomy on the next-generation S-Class luxurious sedan, whereas a partnership with Bosch can hopefully produce totally autonomous prototypes within the subsequent two to a few years.
“After a really giant hype at the start – not one thing that we’ve fuelled in our communication, however we will really feel within the normal area – there’s a stage of realism that units in as a result of if you introduce these techniques it’s a must to guarantee that they’re protected,” he mentioned. “That may be a refined downside to resolve, however we’re decided to resolve.
“For the previous few years we’ve had two paths occurring on the identical time inside Mercedes.
“One is the event out of the driving help techniques the place Mercedes is a pioneer – actually the primary driving help techniques, interval, got here from us – the place we’re now on a classy Stage 2-plus techniques, and the place it’s our intent with the next-generation S-Class to go for Stage three in a freeway state of affairs.
“For the Stage four, Stage 5 robotaxi state of affairs or possibly hub-to-hub truck-use state of affairs, we’ve – as you most likely know – a venture occurring with Bosch the place when it is going to be commercially viable is just a little bit unclear at this cut-off date, however we’re pushing laborious technically within the subsequent two to a few years to have the ability to have merchandise that may do it, after which we see the way it develops.”
Mr Kaellenius mentioned the transformative state of the automotive trade will create new gamers out there, quite than consolidation amongst producers.
When requested about new gamers equivalent to Apple and Dyson getting into the automotive market with the rise in autonomy, he mentioned one of the best plan of action for Mercedes is to interact in cooperation when there is a chance for mutual profit.
“It’s most likely an period for cooperation due to the large investments that we’re speaking about that drives pragmatic and win-win-driven cooperation,” he mentioned.
“It’s commonplace when a enterprise is in transformation for gamers that weren’t in that enterprise earlier than search some alternative to enter.
“So, we have to have a look at each conventional competitors and potential new competitors on this period.”
When requested if he was open to collaborating with Tesla following incumbent Daimler chairman of the board of administration Dieter Zetsche’s feedback in February that he was excited about collaborating on the electrical Sprinter van, Mr Kaellenius mentioned he was open-minded however there have been no concrete plans at this stage.
Whereas the introduction of autonomously pushed shared mobility companies might doubtlessly lead to fewer new automobiles being bought, Mercedes-Benz nonetheless sees new-vehicle possession as being the principle driver for its enterprise, with a objective to proceed a rise of total gross sales.
Mr Kaellenius mentioned the Asian market specifically has large potential for development, as the expansion of wealth in these international locations continues to blossom over the approaching decade.
“It’s our objective to construct extra automobiles,” he mentioned. “Sure, mobility companies are going to be a rising phase of the market, of which on the premium luxurious facet, we need to have a wholesome market share, little doubt.
“In case you look into the long run, the subsequent 10 years with how the markets develop, the wealth development develops – particularly Asia as a market develop – we consider that within the subsequent 10 years that possession per se as a enterprise mannequin stays the principle enterprise mannequin.
“It’s then more and more complemented by mobility companies the place we’ve our personal actions, as properly, however the place we as a enterprise automobile producer, need to have a wholesome market share.”