Sustainable urban mobility

Mobility for liveable cities

Strategy and concepts

Urban mobility

Our area of action Sustainable urban mobility is a fixed component of the Mercedes-Benz Group’s sustainable business strategy. Our goal is to help cities and their residents, as well as entire regions and individual neighbourhoods, meet their requirements in the areas of safety, sustainability, efficiency and access to mobility.

Mobility is context-related: we believe that for every situation there is a suitable mobility solution — one that focusses on people. To make sure we can offer such solutions, we aim to refine and combine existing products while also developing and testing new concepts. That was our goal when we established the "Urban Mobility Solutions" unit in 2019. This unit is part of the Board of Management of the Mercedes-Benz AG division Marketing & Sales, and its activities and decisions apply throughout the Mercedes-Benz Group AG. One of the unit’s tasks is to maintain an ongoing dialogue with cities and their residents in order to gain an even better understanding of their mobility requirements. The Urban Mobility Solutions unit aims to improve the quality of life in cities by means of tailored and future-oriented solutions, products and business models.

In order to identify and address new ideas and trends in the area of urban mobility at an early stage of their development, partnerships are essential. We are convinced that the creation of shared values is the key to the sustainable urban mobility of the future. That’s why our teams are working closely with representatives of cities, partners from industry, planners and researchers, as well as other Mercedes-Benz business units. By means of this approach we aim to develop new fields of business, expand and improve the portfolio of Mercedes-Benz Group AG and prepare the company for future developments in the urban transport of people and goods.

The Urban Mobility Solutions unit is currently conducting in-depth discussions with representatives of cities and regional governments in Europe and the United States in particular. The focus is on the question of how to make transport safer, more sustainable and more efficient. One important approach involves the use of intelligent, real-time vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity systems.

Four mobility requirements

In order to make urban mobility safer, more efficient and more sustainable, the Urban Mobility Solutions unit is addressing the following four mobility requirements.

Making urban traffic safer

Efficient, clean and safe urban traffic is extremely difficult to achieve without traffic and vehicle data. In order to increase the safety of all road users and improve the flow of traffic, we make extensive vehicle data available to cities, with the consent of the vehicle users. Our aim is to help the authorities who are responsible for infrastructure and traffic safety make data-based decisions.

Avoiding emissions, conserving resources

To make sustainable mobility possible, we are relying on zero-emission vehicles, accelerating the expansion of the necessary charging infrastructure and promoting the circular economy. We are not only optimising the utilisation rate and the energy consumption of our products but also prolonging the life cycles of our vehicles. In addition, we are developing recycling loops for mobility systems and advising cities about the development of cyclical utilisation concepts for their traffic systems.

More stress-free and more sustainable city traffic

Avoiding congestion, optimising the search for a parking place and reducing operating costs — the creation of holistic mobility systems and the seamless integration of our vehicles within them will make all of this possible. We want to enable every road user to travel stress-free within urban spaces. To this end, we are developing flexible systems that are specially optimised for urban traffic and adapt themselves to the dynamics of cities.

Making mobility available to all members of the public

We support diverse interest groups in developing concrete mobility solutions for entire cities or individual neighbourhoods — beginning with the concept, moving on to its implementation and then adapting holistic mobility systems to the respective practical needs. We also support the expansion of the public charging infrastructure in cities, and we are developing networked solutions for every mobility context. Our goal is to make mobility available to all city-dwellers.

Strategic investments

The Mercedes-Benz Group acts as a strategic investor in the growing market for urban mobility services via Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG. Among other things, Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG and the BMW Group have teamed up in the YOUR NOW joint ventures, in which the two partners have an equal interest. The YOUR NOW mobility services combine solutions for , multimodal mobility and carsharing. The bp energy company became the third shareholder in CHARGE NOW, the joint venture for charging electric vehicles, in 2021.

At the same time Mercedes-Benz Mobility is expanding its activities in the area of Premium Ride-hailing. As part of a joint venture with the Geely Technology Group, an app-based limousine chauffeur service known as StarRides was launched in Hangzhou, China at the end of 2019. The StarRides fleets now operate in ten major cities in China. Since 2013, Mercedes-Benz Mobility has also held an interest in the Berlin-based chauffeur services provider Blacklane.

Mobility services are an important pillar of the transport transformation

The YOUR NOW mobility services can help to make urban mobility more sustainable. For example, thanks to their efficient vehicle utilisation, the carsharing services of SHARE NOW are demonstrably reducing emissions as well as the need for parking areas and other car-related spaces. Furthermore, SHARE NOW, the leader of the European carsharing market, operates about 3,000 electric vehicles in eight European cities — that’s more than 25 per cent of its fleet.

The mobility joint venture FREE NOW has set a clear goal for its sustainability strategy “Move to Net Zero”: making 50 per cent of its journeys fully electric by 2025 and reducing emissions to zero by 2030. FREE NOW aims to be the first mobility platform in Europe to reach 100 per cent zero emissions by 2030 in all of the important European markets. Since early 2020, FREE NOW has also been retroactively offsetting all residual CO2 emissions — not only at its own company but also for associated services. The fleet’s gradual switch to more low-emission vehicles has already reduced CO2 emissions by 5,144 tons since 2019.

In full-year 2021, FREE NOW made it easier for cab drivers to purchase all-electric automobiles so that the number of all-electric vehicles in the fleet grew by 104 per cent compared to the previous year. It also integrated about 130,000 new electric scooters, electric bikes and electric carsharing vehicles into its app. As a result of this step, FREE NOW has become the mobility platform with the largest selection of vehicles in Europe.

Through its charging solutions for automakers and fleet operators, Digital Charging Solutions GmbH (DCS) has become one of the most important global drivers of the transformation to electric mobility. DCS is behind the CHARGE NOW brand and operates the charging service Mercedes me Charge, among other things. With more than 280,000 charging stations in 30 countries, DCS offers drivers access to Europe’s biggest charging network and to the charging infrastructure of its over 850 partners. DCS has set itself the goal of integrating 100 per cent green energy into its charging services step by step in order to provide all customers with access to CO2-free mobility. In 2020, DCS also launched CHARGE NOW for Business on the market. This service makes it easier for leasing providers, major companies and their fleet managers to access electric mobility. DCS provides the necessary tools for managing electrified fleets. This solution combines Europe’s biggest network of public charging stations with the special requirements of fleets, thus offering a uniform charging solution for electrified vehicle fleets.

Measures

Projects of the Urban Mobility Solutions unit

The Mercedes-Benz Group is working to make urban mobility more efficient, safer, more environmentally friendly and accessible to everyone — and to make CO2 neutral mobility possible in the medium term. Many of our products and services are already designed to help improve the traffic situation in cities. At the same time the expansion of the country’s rail network was halted by a referendum in 2020.

Subscriptions for electric cars, eBikes and services

Every city is different, and so are the mobility needs of their residents. That’s why mobility concepts have to be specific to individual cities. In the reporting year, Urban Mobility Solutions developed a new concept for better adapting the automobile — Mercedes-Benz Group AG’s core product — to the requirements of individual cities. In cooperation with Mercedes-Benz Germany, this resulted in the first pilot project of the Mercedes-EQ City Abo (city subscription) in Berlin.

The EQ brand is a comprehensive electric mobility ecosystem. It encompasses all the battery-powered electric automobiles as well as the related products and services from Mercedes-Benz. Its product portfolio ranges from electric vehicles and wallboxes to charging services and home energy storage units. The exact contents of each city subscription depend on the special features of the regional market or the selected city and the needs of its residents. The subscription might include hardware changes, special software features or cooperative projects with local companies. The starting point is a comprehensive study of the market.

For example, the City Subscription Berlin comprises the Mercedes-EQA in combination with a package of various products and services, such as a credit card for green charging current and an eBike plus the related services. The subscription also covers all the essential operating costs, such as insurance, summer/winter tyres and vehicle registration fees. In addition, customers can support social projects in Berlin. All of these elements are offered for a monthly total price. The subscription can be cancelled under flexible conditions.

Plans call for this concept to be expanded into other metropolitan regions in the future. We are currently examining whether to implement variants in further cities in Europe, North America and Asia.

Increasing safety in road traffic

The Mercedes-Benz Group participated in the Europe-wide cooperative project Code the Streets in 2021. This association of businesses, industrial partners and cities aims to find out whether safety-relevant information sent to displays on vehicle dashboards has an influence on road users’ driving behaviour. The project is funded by the EU as part of the Future Digital Mobility Management — Code the Streets programme.

As part of this project, drivers in urban centres are nudged, either ad hoc while driving or early on as they plan their route, to drive more considerately in safety-relevant areas such as school zones or on damaged roads. The Mercedes-Benz Group is not only providing the necessary technology for communicating such messages to vehicles but also enabling city authorities and mobility companies to share the information via our digital interface.

Parallel to this project, we’ve cooperated with the City of Stuttgart to identify and test additional use cases of City-to-Car Notifications. The goal is to provide drivers with greater access to relevant information in the future in order to make urban mobility safer and cities more liveable.

Collaborative route guidance

Less traffic jams, fewer emissions and faster arrivals — in order to make urban traffic more sustainable, the Mercedes-Benz Group participated in a “collaborative route guidance” project in 2021. The idea behind this approach is that the creation of route guidance networks connecting road users can distribute traffic more effectively across the entire available infrastructure — especially during rush hours and in connection with events or traffic disruptions. That way all road users can, on average, reach their respective destinations faster. Together with a leading software company in this field, we have tested the use of collaborative route guidance at various Mercedes-Benz locations in and around Stuttgart. We learned from the pilot project that people were fundamentally interested in using such solutions and that even small numbers of users can reduce congestion along major traffic arteries. Unfortunately, we were unable to test all of the scenarios, because of the pandemic. However, the tests will be continued as soon as the situation normalises.

Preventing serious and fatal accidents

In mid-2021, the Mercedes-Benz Group completed a flagship project called the "Mercedes-Benz Road Safety Dashboard". This digital tool can alert drivers to possible danger points in the city even before an accident happens. The Urban Mobility Solutions unit developed the Dashboard in cooperation with Transport for London (TfL).

London’s city authorities are searching for ways to make the city safer for all road users — especially pedestrians and cyclists — with the help of vehicle data. The initial talks with representatives from London were held in 2019. The city authorities’ goal is to eliminate serious and fatal accidents on London’s streets by 2041.

The Mercedes-Benz Road Safety Dashboard is based on individual messages sent by driver assistance systems, which are offered today in almost all Mercedes-Benz vehicle series. These systems can intervene in hazardous traffic situations and mitigate the severity of possible collisions. Sometimes they can even prevent collisions entirely. If the systems are frequently intervening in a certain area within the traffic network, the city authorities can analyse this area and take the necessary countermeasures — thus avoiding serious and fatal accidents in the future.

After its successful use in London, the Dashboard is due to be introduced in several other large and medium-sized European cities.

Mercedes-Benz Road Safety Dashboard

Mercedes-Benz Road Safety Dashboard (Graphic)

On-demand shuttle service in Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is considering the introduction of an on-demand shuttle service, for which it is relying on the traffic simulation expertise of Mercedes-Benz. The principality aims to make mobility more sustainable, more efficient and more accessible in the medium term — and it considers the use of shuttle services as an important part of this effort.

Liechtenstein has a huge traffic problem, because more than 30,000 workers commute within the country and from abroad every day. Moreover, Liechtenstein has the highest in all of Europe. At the same time, the expansion of the country’s rail network was halted by a referendum in 2020. In order to solve the problem, the government aims to develop mobility solutions that can be implemented quickly to fill the gap between private transport and local public transport.

The on-demand service developed by our Urban Mobility Service unit fulfils exactly these requirements. Instead of adhering to rigid timetables, shuttles drive along individual routes at the passengers’ desired times and can be quickly booked and paid for via apps. People who want to travel in the same direction share a shuttle. This relieves the pressure on urban traffic and is more environmentally friendly.

For one thing, Liechtenstein wants to use the shuttle service to motivate drivers to shift to more sustainable alternative transport. It also wants to create connections with areas that have to date been poorly connected. In addition, the shuttles complement the local public transport system — for example, with a feeder service that takes passengers to and from bus and rail stops.

In order to find the optimal operating model for the on-demand shuttle service, we first worked together with the Van Simulations team to model how the service would be operated. In a three-step process carried out from March until July 2021 we conducted various analyses and used the results to launch a virtual fleet of shuttle buses navigating the road network. After that we changed various controlled variables such as fleet size, vehicle size and acceptable waiting periods for passengers. In total, we simulated more than 2,500 different scenarios. Together we examined and analysed the results and made them available as a basis for decision-making to the operators, government and representatives of communities and interest groups.

In terms of the size of the fleet and the areas to be served two scenarios deliver the best results. For an on-demand service within Liechtenstein the use of twelve shuttles is optimal. A fleet of this size can fulfil more than 95 per cent of all trip requests and thus avoid about 1,600 kilometres per day of driving in private cars. If regions close to the border to Austria and Switzerland should also be served, a fleet size of 24 shuttles is optimal. With this offer, 91 percent of all travel requests can be fulfilled and about 2,600 kilometers of driving in private cars could be avoided.

Sample depiction of the proportion of requests that were served — by fleet size with respect to the domestic scenario

Sample depiction of the proportion of requests that were served — by fleet size with respect to the domestic scenario (Graphic)

Developing a mobility concept for a consortium

The large county town Leonberg, which lies about ten kilometres west of Stuttgart, issued a call for tenders in September 2021. Investors were invited to submit development plans for an area at the edge of the city park along Berliner Strasse. This “investor selection process with a conceptual component” pays particular attention to the overall concept’s innovative aspects and future viability in the area of mobility.

In the view of this situation Urban Mobility Solutions advised a consortium, concerning the design of an urban planning concept, an utilisation and open-space concept, a green area plan, as well as land development and parking areas. From September to November 2021 the team created a mobility concept in close coordination with the partners involved in drawing up the draft proposal.

Creation of a mobility alliance for the Synergiepark in Stuttgart

“The Synergiepark Stuttgart: A flagship project for smart, needs-based and sustainable mobility. Attractive for all people and companies” — this is the title of a mobility alliance that was launched during the reporting year at the behest and direction of Urban Mobility Solutions at the Synergiepark Stuttgart. The common goal of the actors from politics and local industry is to enable sustainable, efficient and accessible mobility for employees, residents and companies at the Synergiepark. The Synergiepark plays a key role in this endeavour. The business park is the region’s largest, covering 120 hectares and offering employment for 30,000 people. Although the area is very well connected to the transportation network, commuter traffic causes considerable traffic problems, especially during peak hours.

One approach to counteracting this problem is the SSB-Flex on-demand shuttle service for the Synergiepark’s workforce. The pilot project’s launch had to be postponed until 2022 because of the pandemic. The shuttle service can be ordered via an app and is integrated into the local public transport fare system. The shuttle operates with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, some of which are equipped with electric drives. The SSB-Flex fleet is scheduled to switch completely to the all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQV in 2022. The goal here is to improve the flow of commuter traffic within the existing transport infrastructure. The shuttle service’s main goal is to provide a sustainable alternative for employees who primarily get to work by car or motorcycle.

More sustainable delivery traffic in cities

The SUSTAINEER from Mercedes-Benz Vans shows what sustainable delivery traffic in the city could look like in the future. The technology platform based on the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter bundles a variety of innovative solutions that, for example, make parcel and goods deliveries quieter, cleaner and more efficient - and thus improves the quality of life in cities. Among other things, the Mercedes-Benz SUSTAINEER is equipped with a low-noise electric drive system, low rolling-resistance tyres and a quiet sensor-guided swinging double door known as the Speed Delivery Door. In addition, the SUSTAINEER is equipped with intelligent software and communication solutions that enable efficient route planning in real time. That not only reduces the kilometres driven but also leads to less energy consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

Effectiveness and results

The effectiveness of our management approach

The field of action "Sustainable Urban Mobility" is an integral part of the Sustainable Business Strategy of the Mercedes-Benz Group. With its trend-setting mobility and transport solutions, this field of action makes a significant contribution to improving the quality of life in the city. That’s why we’ve also integrated it into our existing management system. The individual activities within this area of action are evaluated in connection with the respective targets of the responsible divisions. We also communicate in depth with representatives of cities and leading experts in the fields of urban development and transport development. Here too, we receive valuable suggestions and ideas for new strategic initiatives. In addition, we use their feedback in order to continuously review and improve our concepts.

Results

During the reporting year, Urban Mobility Solutions launched or continued the following projects:

  • Mercedes-EQ City Abo: This pilot project kicked off in Berlin and offers a solution for city-specific mobility concepts in the form of its electric mobility ecosystem.
  • Mercedes-Benz Road Safety Dashboard: This digital tool identifies high-risk locations within London in order to make traffic safer for all road users.
  • Code the Streets: This Europe-wide cooperation project is testing how locally relevant City-to-Car notifications can reach large numbers of road users in close to real time in order to improve traffic flow and safety.
  • On-demand shuttle service: This shuttle service aims to reduce traffic congestion in the city of Liechtenstein, encourage drivers to switch to a more sustainable alternative and provide access to poorly connected regions.
  • Collaborative route guidance: This pilot project in the Stuttgart area connects road users with one another in order to improve the general traffic flow by means of optimised route guidance.
  • Mobility Alliance for the Synergiepark Stuttgart This alliance between government and local industry plans to use a variety of measures to make mobility in Stuttgart more sustainable, more efficient and more accessible for everyone.

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Chairman of the Supervisory Board: Bernd Pischetsrieder

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Ride-hailing

Ride-hailing refers to a form of mobility in which a person uses an app to request a vehicle and driver for a transport service. Unlike the case with ridesharing, the vehicle is not generally shared with other passengers.

All glossary terms

Degree of motorisation

The degree of motorisation is the ratio between the number of motor vehicles/cars and the number of inhabitants.

All glossary terms