DETROIT – Expect every Mercedes-Benz passenger-vehicle model to feature the brand’s new telematics platform before 2014.
Thomas Weber, management-board member of Mercedes parentAG and the brand’s research and development chief, makes the pledge during a media preview of today’s ’12 C-Class car line unveiling at the North American International Auto Show here.
Features of the system, dubbed Online Command and making its debut on the C-Class, are myriad, Weber tells Ward’s. “You can, for example, configure your navigation on your home PC and then email it into the car.”
Advanced telematics systems are proliferating. Since model-year ’04, in-vehicle concierge availability among cars built for the U.S. nearly has doubled to 13.7%, according to Ward’s data.
ButCEO and Chairman Dieter Zetsche is unfazed by the rapid rollouts, saying luxury-vehicle brands such as Mercedes remain at the forefront of the introductions.
“There are very few examples where new technology will start in volume segments,” he says. “But clearly, the speed of bringing the technology ‘down the ladder’ to the volume segment is much higher.
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” he adds. “We have to be considered as leading technology and that is not defined by a leap of one year or five years, but more by the fact that new technology – not in all the areas and not all the time – very often comes from us.”
Daimler is putting its money where its mouth is. The auto maker is expanding its research and development budgets for Mercedes-Benz this year, Zetsche says. Between 2010 and this year, the auto maker will commit more than €10 billion ($13 billion) to the cause.
The C-Class arrives in European showrooms in March. U.S. dealers can expect delivery in September.