Jungwirth, whose youthful appearance belies the two decades he has spent with Daimler, also says the location in Silicon Valley offers insight into the U.S., which is critical to Mercedes-Benz's efforts to remain a leader in luxury vehicles.

‟The U.S. is very different in terms of demographics,” Jungwirth notes. ‟We still have an expanding customer base here in the U.S. These are facts based on demographics. We also know more growth in the top income segment.”

In addition, the ‟mindset and creativity” in Silicon Valley have helped nurture trends and lifestyles that have swept the globe. ‟The top five websites are from Silicon Valley or nearby San Francisco,” he says.

Jungwirth,  who also is responsible for an advanced design center in Southern California and an engineering center in Redford, MI, outside Detroit, notes the U.S. suburban lifestyle exemplified by Silicon Valley, which stretches south from San Francisco, is unique. While densely populated megacities have expanded in other parts of the world, the U.S. population lives in megasuburbs ‟where the car is still king,” he says.

‟There is a lot of hype about urbanization, but on the ground it’s very different,” Jungwirth contends. ‟We only have only one megacity in the United States. New York is the one exception. Boston, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles are all megasuburbs.”

Studies show the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. are in the suburbs and the trend is expected to continue well into the future. ‟People don't live in the city. They live in the suburbs. It's all happening in the suburbs,” Jungwirth says.

The new Mercedes-Benz R&D center, with its bicycle lockers, open snack bar and game tables for its more than 100 employees, is growing to meet the challenges posed by the combination of suburbanization, sophisticated customers demanding the best possible service and rapidly changing technology, which is expected to change the motoring experience in the next decade.

Thus, the center in Sunnyvale also pays close attention to trends in consumer electronics, Jungwirth says, noting hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s dictum that you don’t skate to where the puck is, but to where it’s going to be.