Sustainable urban mobility
Mobility for liveable cities
Strategy and concepts
An integral part of the sustainable business strategy of the Mercedes-Benz Group is the field of action “Sustainable urban mobility”. For this field of action, the Group has set itself the goal of helping cities and their residents, as well as entire regions and individual neighbourhoods, with their requirements in the areas of “safety”, “sustainability” and “efficiency of mobility”.
Mobility is context-based: the Mercedes-Benz Group believes that there is a suitable mobility solution for every situation. To make it possible to offer this, the Group wants to further develop and repackage existing products, while also developing new concepts. The Urban Mobility Solutions division was founded in 2019 with this goal in mind. This unit is part of the Mercedes-Benz AG Board of Management Marketing & Sales division and deals with questions of urban mobility for the whole Mercedes-Benz Group AG. One of the tasks of the Urban Mobility Solutions unit is to exchange ideas with cities and their citizens on a continual basis in order to better understand their mobility requirements.
Partnerships are essential for identifying and addressing new ideas and trends in the area of urban mobility at an early stage. The Urban Mobility Solutions teams therefore work closely with representatives of cities, partners from industry, planning and research experts, and other Mercedes-Benz business units. Through this work, Mercedes-Benz Group AG hopes to open up new business areas, further develop its portfolio and prepare the Group for future developments in urban passenger and freight transport.
Three mobility requirements
To make mobility in cities safer, more efficient and more sustainable, the Urban Mobility Solutions division is addressing the following three mobility requirements:
Making urban traffic safer
To increase the safety of all road users and improve the flow of traffic, the Mercedes-Benz Group providess cities with extensive vehicle data available to cities – with the consent of the vehicle users. In this way, it aims to help those responsible for infrastructure and road safety to make data-based decisions.
Avoiding emissions, conserving resources
To make sustainable mobility possible, the Mercedes-Benz Group is focusing on fully electric vehicles, pushing the expansion of the necessary charging infrastructure and contributing to the circular economy. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz Group advises cities on the development of cyclical usage concepts for their transport systems.
More stress-free and more sustainable city traffic
Avoiding traffic jams, optimising the search for parking spaces and reducing operating costs – by creating holistic mobility systems and seamlessly integrating its vehicles into them, the Mercedes-Benz Group aims to provide every road user with a stress-free journey through the urban environment. To this end, the Mercedes-Benz Group is developing flexible systems that are specially optimised for urban traffic and adapt to the dynamics of cities. The Group is also supporting various stakeholders in developing specific mobility solutions for entire cities or individual neighbourhoods.
Furthermore, the Urban Mobility Solutions division is working on new data products for parking data analysis, among other things. Cities and municipalities are potential customers. The products are intended to help increase transparency and efficiency in the management of public parking space. During the reporting period, Urban Mobility Solutions engaged in dialogue with various real estate developers in the USA in order to advise them on the development of mobility concepts for their neighbourhood construction projects.
The Mercedes-Benz Group acts as a strategic investor in the growing market for urban mobility services via Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG. For example, Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG and the BMW Group hold equal stakes in the joint ventures FREE NOW and CHARGE NOW. FREE NOW operates as a mobility platform; CHARGE NOW has its business field in the area of charging electric vehicles. The energy company BP has been a third shareholder in CHARGE NOW since 2021. In the car sharing business, Mercedes-Benz Mobility AG and the BMW Group also operated the joint venture SHARE NOW. It was sold in mid-2022.
Mobility services are an important pillar of the transport transformation
The mobility services FREE NOW and CHARGE NOW can help to make mobility in the city more sustainable.
FREE NOW has set itself a clear goal with its sustainability strategy “Move to Net Zero”: 50 percent of journeys are to be fully electric by 2025 and local emissions reduced to zero by 2030. In this way, “FREE NOW” aims to become the first mobility platform in Europe to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2030 in all major European markets. Since early 2020, FREE NOW has also been retroactively offsetting all residual CO2 emissions – not only for itself as a company but also for associated services. Since 2019, the initiated transformation of the fleet to more low-emission vehicles has already generated savings of 21,028 t of CO2.
Within the reporting period, FREE NOW again doubled the number of journeys with an electric vehicle in all markets, with a fivefold increase recorded in the UK, Germany and Spain. In addition, the mobility platform has integrated access to more than 200,000 new e-scooters, e-bikes and electric car-sharing vehicles into its app by working with additional partners. This makes FREE NOW the mobility platform with the largest selection of vehicles in Europe.
Behind the brand CHARGE NOW with its charging solutions for car manufacturers and fleet operators is Digital Charging Solutions GmbH, one of the most important global drivers of the transformation to electric mobility. Among other things, the company provides the charging service for Mercedes me Charge. With more than 400,000 charging points in 31 countries, it offers access to the largest charging network in Europe, in addition to the charging infrastructure of more than 1000 business partners. Digital Charging Solutions GmbH has set itself the goal of gradually integrating 100 percent green electricity into the charging offer in order to give all customers access to CO2-free mobility. How quickly the company can achieve this goal will depend on the energy transition and the respective availability in the grid. Currently, the 100 percent green power offset is realised via certificates of origin.
In order to promote the mobility turnaround, since 2022, Digital Charging Solutions GmbH has also enabled CHARGE NOW customers to report the level of CO2 emissions they have avoided over the course of a year through charging green electricity in the form of a “GHG quota” (greenhouse gas reduction quota). The remuneration they receive in return depends on the CO2 price that can be achieved in emissions trading.
Furthermore, Digital Charging Solutions GmbH launched “CHARGE NOW for Business” in 2020. This is a service that facilitates access to e-mobility for leasing providers, large companies and their fleet management. Digital Charging Solutions GmbH provides the necessary tools for managing an electrified fleet.
Projects of the Urban Mobility Solutions unit
With the aim of helping to improve the traffic situation in cities, the Urban Mobility Solutions division implemented numerous projects in 2022:
Subscriptions for electric cars, eBikes and services
With the pilot project “Mercedes-EQ City Abo” the Mercedes-Benz Group offers customers the opportunity to choose flexibly between different forms of transport. The “City Edition” offer launched in Berlin consists of a subscription for a Mercedes EQA 250 (WLTP: combined electricity consumption: 16,9‒15,4 kWh/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km)1, a Swapfiets eBike and a “Mercedes me” charging credit. Due to the positive response, the concept was also extended to Hamburg in June 2022. The idea of a “City Edition” – with a partly different configuration – is also to be applied in Los Angeles from 2023. Furthermore, Urban Mobility Solutions has started to explore the introduction of additional “City Editions” in further markets in Europe and Asia. The exact content of the respective “City Edition” depends on the specifics of the regional market or the selected city and the needs of its inhabitants.
The EQ brand is a comprehensive electric mobility ecosystem: it encompasses all the battery-powered electric automobiles from Mercedes-Benz, along with the corresponding products and services. Its product portfolio ranges from electric vehicles and wallboxes to charging services and home energy storage units.
Real-time urban traffic information
Mercedes-Benz AG participated in the Europe-wide cooperation project “Code the Streets” from January 2021 to February 2022 via its Urban Mobility Solutions division. The aim of this project is to test new ways of providing drivers with helpful and safety-relevant information, so-called city-to-car notifications, while they drive. Urban mobility and city life should thus become safer, more pleasant and more sustainable. Among other things, the drivers received information on their navigation screens about nearby school zones and recommendations on how to regulate their speed appropriately. After the successful completion of various pilot projects in Amsterdam, Helsinki and Stuttgart, Urban Mobility Solutions initiated the development of a corresponding series solution in the year under review.
Collaborative route guidance
Another impulse for testing a possible series solution comes from successful pilot projects on the topic of “Collaborative route guidance” in Stuttgart. The idea behind this approach: by networking road users during route guidance, traffic can be better distributed across the entire existing infrastructure, especially at peak times and in connection with events or traffic disruptions. On average, all road users can reach their respective destinations faster and more sustainably in this way.
In addition, the Urban Mobility Solutions unit is working on other data-based products, such as a cadastre with information on the location and availability of parking spaces and a scientific method for predicting parking behaviour. By means of parking data analyses, public parking areas can be controlled and managed more transparently and efficiently.
Analytics for greater road safety in the Netherlands
In 2022, the Mercedes-Benz Group received an extensive commission from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to analyse the condition of roads and other transport infrastructure by means of vehicle data. The plan sees the project, called “Road Monitor”, extending over two years and covering the areas of “Winter management”, “Road condition analysis” and “Road safety”. All provinces of the Netherlands with a road network of more than 130,000 km are included. Urban Mobility Solutions will contribute high-quality and easy-to-use information to the project to make mobility in Dutch cities and municipalities safer, more efficient and sustainable for all transport users. Together with other project partners, modern analysis software will be used to evaluate the data. In consideration of data protection, the data from the Car-to-X-communication and other systems of the networked Mercedes-Benz vehicles are anonymised before the analysis.
With the project, the Mercedes-Benz Group underlines its ongoing commitment to traffic safety through innovation. It also provides a good example of the implementation of the Mercedes-Benz Group’s sustainable business strategy with the core elements “Sustainable urban mobility” and “Traffic safety”.
Local neighbourhood mobility: implementation plan developed
For the neighbourhood project of a German property developer, Urban Mobility Solutions developed a plan for the implementation of a multimodal (electric) mobility concept in 2022. The commissioned team developed a scenario to derive objectives and analysed the market in terms of the availability of suitable technical solutions and service providers. In addition, it determined the scope of the necessary measures and estimated the probable costs and the effect on the targeted reduction of car parking spaces in the neighbourhood. Urban Mobility Solutions continued to hold initial discussions with potential mobility partners for the project and supported the dialogue with the municipality to clarify the legal framework. Finally, the team made a recommendation on the scope and type of charging infrastructure needed. This was based on the legal requirements, forecasts of the market ramp-up for electric vehicles, the charging infrastructure in public spaces and at the workplace, as well as the expected charging behaviour of users.
In the future, a similar project is to be implemented in the USA, among other countries. Urban Mobility Solutions is currently discussing ideas with American property developers for the joint development of mobility concepts for planned neighbourhood development projects.
On demand: electric shuttles for Synergy Park Stuttgart
Once many employees had returned to the office after working from home, traffic bottlenecks were again seen in the commute to the Stuttgart Synergy Park as they had been before the pandemic. A high proportion of this was due to individual traffic during peak hours. In order to avoid the associated pressures without sacrificing flexibility, in June 2022 the Urban Mobility Solutions division launched the “SSB Flex on-demand shuttle service” project after a two-year postponement. Since then, Mercedes-Benz AG employees have been able to request a shuttle via app and be taken to their destinations in one of two Mercedes-Benz EQ Models used for this purpose. The cars are charged overnight at the free charging points in the underground car park of the Mercedes-Benz Office V, so that no additional charging infrastructure had to be set up. The aim of the pilot project is to validate user acceptance and the impact of a shuttle service. The long-term project objective is to enable commuter traffic to interact more fluidly with the existing transport infrastructure. In addition, a means of transport is to be offered for every individual driving purpose, and easy access to electric mobility should be made possible.
Mobility concept for Stuttgart Hospital
Due to its inner-city location, the medical centre “Klinikum Stuttgart” faces special challenges in terms of mobility and logistics. In a pilot project launched in the year under review, the Urban Mobility Solutions team plans to develop a holistic mobility concept for the hospital. To this end, it surveys the diverse mobility needs of patients, employees and visitors. Subsequently, their mobility behaviour is also analysed on the basis of key figures. The data will help the hospital to initiate measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and prepare it for future urban mobility requirements.
More efficient driving and charging behaviour through gamification
The Mercedes me Eco Coach app gives drivers of plug-in hybrids or purely electric vehicles from Mercedes-Benz AG the opportunity to improve the efficiency of their driving and charging behaviour through fun challenges and tips.
The players can compete in a group against other participants or solve their tasks alone. Points are awarded for good performance, which can be collected and exchanged for rewards. By the end of 2022, the app had recorded over 100,000 downloads and a steadily growing community.
More sustainable delivery traffic in cities
The SUSTAINEER from Mercedes-Benz Vans shows what sustainable delivery traffic in cities could look like in the future. The technology platform based on the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter brings together a full range of innovative solutions that, for example, make parcel and goods deliveries quieter, cleaner and more efficient – and thus improve the quality of life in cities: among other things, the Mercedes-Benz SUSTAINEER features a low-noise electric drive system and tyres with low rolling resistance. In addition, the SUSTAINEER is equipped with intelligent software and communication solutions that allow efficient route planning in real time. This should not only reduce the kilometres driven, but also result in lower energy consumption . The SUSTAINEER is being continually extended with new ideas and sustainability-related solutions.
Effectiveness and results
Effectiveness of management approach
"Sustainable urban mobility” as a field of action forms part of the sustainable business strategy of the Mercedes-Benz Group and is firmly integrated into the Group’s existing management system. The individual activities within this sphere of activity are evaluated in conjunction with the respective targets of the responsible business divisions. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz Group is extensively involved in sharing ideas with city representatives and leading experts in the field of urban and transport development. This provides the Group with valuable feedback and suggestions for new strategic initiatives; it also uses this feedback to continually review and improve its concepts.
In the year under review, the Urban Mobility Solutions unit successfully started or continued the following projects:
- “Mercedes-EQ City Abo”: The pilot project launched in Berlin consists of a comprehensive package of Mercedes-EQ EQA plus Swapfiets including e-bike and charging credit. It was successfully extended and was also launched in Hamburg.
- "Road Monitor” Netherlands: This project aims to make road and traffic infrastructure safer by collecting and analysing data nationwide. Focus areas are “Winter management”, “Road condition analysis” and “Road safety”.
- "Code the Streets”: The Europe-wide cooperation project to test location-relevant “City-to-Car” notifications was successfully completed. As a result, Urban Mobility Solutions has initiated an investigation into the possible series introduction of this notification system for Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
- Collaborative route guidance: Following the successful conclusion of a pilot project carried out in Stuttgart to network road users in order to optimise route guidance, an assessment of possible series introduction was also initiated.
- On-demand shuttle service at Synergy Park Stuttgart: After a delay due to the pandemic, an all-electric on-demand shuttle service for employees of Mercedes-Benz AG was launched at Synergy Park Stuttgart in June 2022.
- Mobility concept for Stuttgart Hospital: The content of this pilot project, which started in 2022, is the creation of a concept to reduce vehicle-related greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare the hospital for future urban mobility requirements.
- Implementation plan for neighbourhood project: The project to develop an e-mobility strategy and a multimodal mobility concept for a newly developed neighbourhood in a major German city was completed.
1 Electricity consumption and range were determined on the basis of VO 2017/115/EU