The future of cars – and every other mode of transport – is of course all electric or BEV’s. As such I wanted to get out of my usual Tesla mode and take a more in depth look at what the other major legacy car makers are up to. To see what they have planned for the future.
Now while a car companies museum might not sound like a super great place to see what they’re planning for the future, the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany actually has a “future” section explicitly for this. As such, on our recent trip to Germany I was sure to stop by in Stuttgart and include a day trip out to their fantastic museum to see both their history and what they’ve got planned for the future.
The Museum Itself
It was a beautiful day as we approached the building and to be quite frank, the building itself is an absolutely gorgeous work of art itself. From the outside, to the grounds and especially when you get inside it was an awesome mix of future evil villain lair crossed with a concrete / car paradise.
The lifts were especially cool as they ran up and down these rails on the side of the concrete interior. They were also pretty spacey, futuristic type lifts too which was cool.
The WiFi was free and included with the tickets which were €10 each. You could grab an audio guided tour headset if you wanted but we just headed straight up to the top which is where the museum starts.
While this piece is about the future of Mercedes cars… I can’t skip just how cool the actual museum itself is. The above photo is one of the very first cars they made all the way back in the 1900’s. As you go around there’s boats, other carts, stand alone motors and more.
As you walk further and further around and down the museum time goes on and you see more and more advanced cars as the decades go by. It was very interesting seeing how the vehicle has progressed over all those years, especially at the very start where the craftsmanship is just amazing.
As they get more advanced you get huge bonnets, spare tires, bigger head lights and engines, more leather and luxury. Eventually things form into what we’d consider more “everyday” cars but not after they take an extensive tour through the two world wars in which Mercedes played a big part given they are a German company.
As a last little tid bit I can’t skip over this drool worthy James Bond styled car we saw. Those doors, red interior and just general body shape is absolutely baller I think. I would happily drive that today for sure!
After this section though the museum did do something I wasn’t a fan of which is basically skip over the entire 1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s and today’s cars. It just kind of went from the 1980’s era straight to “the future!” which was lame. I wanted to see more of the 2000/2010/today style cars like the SLK’s and so on. Ah well.
To The Future!
At the very bottom section came the future. While they had a number of cars on display things were quite light on details as far as I could tell. The two main cars were only concepts and there wasn’t even any details on when their first all electric vehicles will be released. No plans on when they’re selling what BEV models or anything. Not a good sign.
Below you can see their main show piece which is your pretty standard “future concept car” from 2015. No side mirrors, huge wheels and a bunch of tech all thrown against the wall to see what sticks.
The car itself was visually very impressive but the specs on it were exceedingly underwhelming. It isn’t a BEV, instead it’s a “combustion and electric engine” or hybrid with a pretty pathetic electric range of 66 km’s.
From reading the notes on it, it seems like they were more trying to create a super aerodynamic car design rather than an all electric car. Coming in with a drag coefficient of 0.19 I’d say they did well. Still, not a great “future vision” given the future isn’t going to have hybrids!
Their second main piece was this much more production ready two seater. Called the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive it can apparently do 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and is from 2014.
Not a huge fan of the white wheels personally but it was an all electric car so much better in regards to what we’re going to be seeing in the actual future. It was also nice to see they hadn’t made it some stupid weird mobile. The blue side mirrors are… interesting. Again not really my cup of tea but I can see this AMG being a damn sweet ride once it’s rolled out and selling for real. Maybe ditch the old school combustion grill though?
Great Cars, Uncertain Future
Moving on we got to their final future and connected section where even more visions of the future are on display. This section also contained a few pieces of the underlying design like materials and design concepts for the internal frame structures which were very cool.
Personally I’ve always loved the outside of Mercedes cars like the SLK 350 or AMG’s. They definitely know how to design sexy looking cars and also do a great job with their build quality.
The museum also told a super detailed history of the various stages they went through during the past 100 years both building the company and getting through the world wars. Many of their factories were targeted and bombed throughout as they were producing military equipment.
In the final “connected” section they spoke a lot about their DriveNow Car Sharing spin off and how this is a big part of their current and future plans. There was also their CAR2GO car sharing company in the USA too.
Above you can see their future concept car for a fully autonomous, level 5 electric car sharing service, what we call TaaS. This was shown off in Las Vegas not too long ago but was pretty cool to see in person. You couldn’t get inside though 🙁
Looking at everything they had on offer I saw a number of positive future plans like the above all electric self driving car sharing systems. That being said there was also a huge lack of actual BEV’s on display or even planned which was very disappointing. Sure I love Tesla and the huge job they’re doing, but we need all manufacturers on board and producing amazing all electric cars everyone can buy.
The reason they don’t have any BEV’s planned is likely because Mercedes has only currently promised to offer “electrified” (read hybrids) versions of it’s current line up by 2022. Beyond that and what BEV’s they plan to build or offer and by when is anyone’s guess.
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From the plans they’ve got on display here it’s uncertain if they’ll be able to navigate this huge disruptive shift coming to cars. Most legacy car makers are mainly focusing on the “electric” part whilst ignoring all the other things that companies like Tesla are doing such as OTA’s, full vertical integration, having their own charging network and so on.
We covered a bit of the legacy manufacturers future in this earlier guest post piece so you can read my more in depth thoughts there if you’re interested. One things for certain though, the Mercedes-Benz Museum is a fantastic day out for anyone, even those that aren’t super into cars! Do check it out if you’re ever in Stuttgart.
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