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Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic Concept is a Van with a Plan

Automobile logo Automobile 9/10/2018 Ed Tahaney
Mercedes Benz Vision Urbanetic people mover module 6

Mercedes-Benz Vans introduced a funky Vision Urbanetic concept—an autonomous vehicle with a battery-electric platform that looks like it rolled off the set of an "Alien" sequel. It made its global debut in Copenhagen, Denmark today.

The new concept sports switchable bodies—a cargo module for goods transport and a people-mover module for commuters that can be swapped in and out of its chassis. Inside. you won't find a steering wheel, pedals, dashboard, or a cockpit for a driver—just modern seats for passengers or room for future stuff.

The self-driving, electrically powered pod can accommodate up to a dozen passengers and the cargo module can carry up to ten Euro pallets. The lean load space is 12-feet long and fits into a total vehicle length of 16.8 feet. It has a variable load floor that can be divided into two levels.

Mercedes-Benz-Vision-Urbanetic-people-mover-module-7.jpg© Automobile Magazine Staff Mercedes-Benz-Vision-Urbanetic-people-mover-module-7.jpg

Mercedes claims that the modules can be switched either automatically or manually in minutes and the autonomous driving platform and chassis is operational with or without a body attached.

"Vision Urbanetic is a completely new mobility concept configured specifically for actual needs as well as efficiency and sustainability. During the rush-hour traffic of early morning and late afternoon, the fleet can be equipped with more people-mover modules," said Gerd Reichenbach, Head of Strategy Mercedes-Benz Vans strategy head, in a statement.

"During other times, the system would mainly be used for goods transport with the cargo module. The virtually noiseless electric drive makes the system viable for further late or night-time delivery options."

The oddly shaped EV pod features a large-format display on its illuminated front grille and sides to let its passengers know that it has noticed them. Spooky.

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