Last week, Mercedes-Benz held a special event completely covering the future of Mercedes cars and vehicles. Mercedes-Benz is one of the world’s great automotive manufacturers. Renowned for quality, performance, design and technology, Mercedes often stands above its peers. While many people in America believe that Henry Ford created the first automobile, it was actually Karl Benz of Mercedes-Benz who did so.
I have owned two Mercedes and regret both and have vowed never to buy another. But now, after hearing what Mercedes announced, I think it’s time to reconsider that position because what I heard potentially solves both of the problems the company has been having. These issues had nothing to do with the cars themselves (which were awesome) but everything to do with my relationship with the company.
With Nvidia and Google, Mercedes-Benz is building a truly smart car that will create a relationship with the car owner and potentially a far more friendly front-end to the company than people currently have. It promises a relationship with your vehicle that is like a relationship with a well-trained pet and could develop into a long-term friendship.
Let’s talk about how automotive AI should improve our relationships with our cars and their makers. Then we’ll close with our Product of the Week, a prototype car from Audi, another Nvidia partner, that promises more amazing progress.
My Strange Mercedes-Benz Relationship
My two Mercedes-Benz cars were amazing in their own way. The first was the ML 320, one of the first Mercedes trucks made in the US, and thankfully it was a tank. I was in three accidents while I owned the car, none of which were my fault. In the third accident, I was in between two brand new Jeeps when a Mazda RX-7 speeding at a stoplight hit me. The collision was enough to crush two Jeeps, but my truck only needed two bumper repairs.
The problem that occurred had nothing to do with my truck. Instead, the problem was with the service advisor I was assigned, who apparently believed I was too poor and low-class to own a Mercedes-Benz, something he did every time I came in for service. but clarified. That experience soured me on the brand, even though it was a dealer relationship problem and had nothing to do with the car.
My other Mercedes, a GLA 45 AMG, was recent and a great car too. It was super powerful and, with one exception, the best track car I’ve ever owned. But several things happened that screwed me over to Mercedes-Benz again.
There was one option that I made sure I ordered because it was important to me: the HomeLink garage door control. But between when I ordered the car and when it arrived, the company bundled that option in, which was not present at the time of ordering. They removed the option without notifying me.
When the car arrived without it, I was offered the chance to have it installed by the service for about 10 times the initial cost when ordering. This was all on top of taking the car to Germany and being treated so poorly during the process that I almost returned the car and asked for my money back.
An additional problem was that the car had an automatic parking brake. This is problematic for a track car because when you stop and shut off the car, the brakes set, but after a track run when the brakes are white hot, the brake pads cause the rotors to adhere. Builds up, which requires a brake job. Not cheap, and the car will run badly until it is done.
AMG had a monthly event where you could call in and ask questions. When I called to inquire about this brake problem, I was again treated very poorly, with the implication that I should just suck it up and sit in the car until the brakes cooled down ( 15-20 minutes) because there was not, and never will be, a solution.
In both cases, it was not the car’s fault, but the people at Mercedes-Benz, who didn’t take customer service seriously enough for a luxury car. While my bad experiences were with Mercedes-Benz, I know people who have complained about every luxury vehicle with the possible exception of Rolls-Royce.
Instead of dealing with people, what if your car was intelligent enough to be your interface for the company? It can adapt itself to your unique needs and even act proactively to potentially save your life.
The next generation of smart Mercedes-Benz cars
I consider myself a car guy. Like many of you, I anthropomorphic my vehicles, though not as much now as I did when I was young. Until this next generation, cars have not been intelligent and have been disappointing friends.
In a mix with Nvidia and Google, Mercedes-Benz is using technologies like generative AI and Nvidia’s Omniverse to make cars smarter, cars that can talk to you and communicate more precisely what they need , report repairs and advocate for you Mercedes is in an impressive effort to make you more loyal to the brand and more engaged with your increasingly autonomous vehicle.
From how the next generation of factories are built to how cars are built, Nvidia’s Omniverse will be used to simulate factories, vehicles, lines of different models and the robots and workers who will build and maintain them.
When you order it, you can better track the car when you receive it and receive timely notice when the package changes, and you need to adjust your order to ensure that To include what you want on the car or the options made available after you order the car.
If there is a problem with the car, instead of searching the manual or calling the dealership, Vehicle will rapidly be able to explain the situation and what you need to do to fix it. This last one can be incredibly important if you have this problem hundreds of miles from the dealership.
Entertainment, driving options, seating position, ambient lighting, and massaging seats will be set to your preferences when the car recognizes you — which can be done via your phone. Those settings will be able to move from car to car if you stick with the Mercedes-Benz brand.
The cars will have game consoles and will increasingly be able to drive themselves, giving you time to access multiple entertainment options via massive displays. Think of the car as your own rolling home theater/gaming chair that will chew up the time on long journeys or keep you entertained and occupied when stuck in traffic.
You should also be able to make videoconferencing calls in the car at some point, allowing you to participate in meetings even before you get to the office (assuming you ever go to the office).
Holistic application of technology should lead to better cars and lower costs, which should translate to lower prices, better customer service and a better relationship with the car and owner. But how does this turn out my two bad experiences with Mercedes-Benz.
Wrapping Up: Automotive AI To The Rescue
The ML320 situation I talked about earlier, with embedded AI, instead of a bad experience, would be like this:
When I pick up the vehicle, and I’m clearly upset with the way I’ve been treated, the car recognizes I’m upset and asks, “What’s wrong?” Then I explain to the embedded generative AI I that the service advisor is treating my wife and me poorly and we are very upset about it.
Next thing I know, I get a call from Mercedes-Benz indicating they’ll take care of it. By the next day, I have a coffee offer with a new service advisor and the head of the dealer’s service department, who tells me to call him if I have any other problems.
Instead of not wanting a Mercedes-Benz, I am now impressed by the level of service and more loyal to the brand as a result. I’m not blowing smoke here. I once did a survey about Dell and Sony and found that even though Sony made better PCs than Dell at the time, people were more loyal to Dell because Dell treated them very well when they had problems. , and Sony didn’t.
In the GLA 45’s experience, I would have been assured that even before HomeLink was installed on the car it got to it, was able to make the vehicle aware that I was being treated poorly, and again Mercedes bud I will be able to address the problem before I turn sour on the brand.
More importantly, the car could self-fix the problem with the parking brake and report it back to Mercedes-Benz so other track drivers could benefit from my feedback.
Essentially, I’ve never wanted to buy a Mercedes, never wanted to buy anything else, which is the true advantage. Customer churn is a huge expense for any industry. For a car company with Mercedes-Benz’s reputation for quality, improvements in customer engagement and training could vastly improve perceived product quality and customer loyalty.
I expect people to want the ability to carry the personality they developed in their old Mercedes-Benz into a new car. Otherwise, they may become so attached to the vehicle that they may never want to get rid of it.
I’ve been a fan of TV shows like “Knight Rider” and “My Mother the Car,” so I look forward to the day when I can have a deeper relationship with my automobile.
Audi ActiveSphere Concept
Rarely do cars make it from their prototype form to final production, but one recent prototype caught my eye: the Audi ActiveSphere concept.
Image credit: Audi
I live in Bend, Oregon, where the weather can go from sunny and warm to icy and dangerous in a single day. I love sports cars, and while my wife’s Jaguar F-Type was scary-dangerous when it was cold, it was one of the most fun cars I’ve ever owned.
I want a car that embodies the concept of a sports car, but can, at the push of a button, transform or expand into an off-road vehicle so I can take it for Costco runs or bike into the hills. can be used to carry. , Like Mercedes-Benz, Audi is also working with Nvidia to provide the same capabilities I mentioned above.
With top-notch performance, track capability, and the ability to transform into an off-road or pickup-truck-like vehicle at the touch of a button (or even automatically when changing positions), Audi’s ActiveSphere Designed for the place I live and how I would like to enjoy my next automobile. Of course, it’s electric – all the advancements to come are in electric cars as the automotive industry goes electric.
The Audi Activesphere concept captured my imagination like no other car had before. It’s very attractive, sums up what every other car I’ve owned lacks, and has the entertainment and self-driving capabilities I’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford. The only question is whether I can afford it or not.
Mercedes-Benz is showcasing the personality of the car I want next, and Audi is showcasing the design that meets my needs. Audi might as well have a combination of both which will occupy my wallet. I have owned three Audis (two TTs and an S5 Cabriolet) and love them both. ActiveSphere might become my fourth, so it’s my product of the week.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.