Carriages led to cars. Carriages were considered a status symbol back in the day. Of course by carriages I do not mean karts! A person with a personal carriage was considered sophisticated, classy…rich! There were reasons for this perception too. Carriages were endowed with most of the creature comforts. It was not merely a means to travel from point A to B. It was a means to travel from point A to B in style!
Fast forward today, a lot has changed with time .Carriages can still be seen in a few museums. One thing that has remained constant is the understanding that when a person travels, he travels with a certain space around him. This is the reason why you feel claustrophobic on a crowded bus versus your relaxed state of mind in your own vehicle. With the advent of autonomous driving this personal space throws up some interesting concepts to be explored by designers. One such exploration is the F015 Luxury in Motion concept by Mercedes unveiled ahead of the upcoming CES.
A look at the design language and the emphasis of Gorden Wagener on purity of form immediately comes to mind. While definitely futuristic in its aesthetic appeal, note the lack of any creasing details on the side panels of the car. The car has a widish stance with its width at 2018 mm against a height of 1524 mm and a length of 5220 mm, it aims to redefine the car package. The styling of the rear is very futuristic and reminds one of a modified Robocop (the 2014 edition) helmet. The front gets the Mercedes grill with the three star firmly integrated into it. Do not miss the handlebars on the doors. There does not seem to be a visible cut to operate the doors suggesting that the doors may be gesture controlled.
While the exterior is endowed with some unique design treatment, the star of this package is the interior detailing. It has a variable seating system. The four rotating lounge chairs allow a face-to-face seat configuration. In order to make getting in and out of the car easier, the electrically powered seats also swing outwards by 30 degrees as soon as the doors are opened. The car is essentially missing a B pillar to make this possible. The doors themselves open outwards in a saloon car like fashion. Dr Dieter Zetsche, boss of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz cars says, “The single most important luxury goods of the 21st century are private space and time. Autonomously driving cars by Mercedes-Benz shall offer exactly that. With the F 015 Luxury in Motion, this revolutionary concept of mobility becomes tangible for the first time.”
The continuity features of the car include a continuous exchange of information between the vehicle, its passengers and the outside world. There are six integrated display screens on the instrument and the rear and side panels. There is gesture control, eye tracking and touch control across these points of contact.
The drive-train itself is a plug in hydrogen fuel cell and two electric motors. Few numbers released by Mercedes state that these produce a combined 268 bhp, thus enabling the F015 to do 0-62 mph in 6.7 sec. Its range is pegged at 684 miles. Enough for a long drive with your pals!
What do we think of this attempt from Mercedes?
Well, autonomous driving is the future. And Mercedes has tried to give us a glimpse of what that future could be like. There will no doubt be a strong emphasis on connectivity and the concept of quality time and quality space will shine through. The idea of swivelling seats is not new. It was present since Newson’s concept car for Ford back in 1999. But this may become the norm rather than a novelty.
PS: You must watch this video for some awesome lighting in this concept!