Currently reading: Mercedes: AI technology could be as profitable as selling cars
Firm predicts its MBUX system could create major new profit source
James Attwood, digital editor
News
3 mins read
10 June 2020

Mercedes-Benz is investing heavily in its MBUX infotainment system because of the potential for making money from offering online services, which in future could rival the profits made from selling cars.

Mercedes introduced the latest version of MBUX on the A-Class in 2018, and the system is now available across virtually its entire model line-up.

A key focus of the system is voice control. Mercedes is currently rolling out an over-the-air software update in certain markets allowing more informal language to be used. In China, the firm has also launched a feature that allows users to order and pay for takeaway food via voice control while driving. A service for booking cinema tickets is also being offered.

A recent report predicted the market for automotive AI systems (including hardware, software and in-car services) will rise from £1.6 billion today to £21bn by 2025.

The desire to capitalise on this has led Mercedes to invest millions in a bespoke system, rather than look to partner with a smartphone provider such as Apple or Google, as some rival car makers are doing.

When asked by Autocar if he believes Mercedes can make as much money from AI systems as from selling cars, MBUX head of user interaction Nils Schanz said: “This is what we are aiming for, and this is why we are investing so heavily in MBUX. We can see there is huge business potential.”

Schanz, who clarified that his job is focused on the user experience and not developing revenue models, said Mercedes has no plans at present to charge owners for using in-car services such as food ordering.

Potential profit streams beyond selling MBUX hardware include charging businesses for access to the food-ordering service and selling access to the platform to third-party app creators. Services including Yelp, Tripadvisor and Apple Music are already available.

Schanz said: “We can see how the business model could develop as a significant source of revenue, although right now there’s no revenue sharing model.”

He noted that developing MBUX’s voice control was also part of a push to increase safety. The system can be operated via touchscreen or physical controls as well, but according to Schanz: “Voice is the safest way, because it keeps a driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”

However, Mercedes’ head of user experience design, Klaus Frenzel, told Autocar in a separate interview “there’s not one perfect way of interacting with the car”, therefore voice control won’t be Mercedes’ sole controlling interface in future.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Back to top

Schanz denied ordering and paying for food while driving could be dangerous, saying: “We have safety experts who are really looking at driver distraction and we have strict rules, so we can do nothing that distracts the driver too much.

“The food-ordering experience has been optimised to reduce and simplify it so that it limits the distraction as much as possible. We’re always looking to make it possible to do anything without looking at the screen.

“There are also services that we won’t offer while the vehicle is driving: you can watch TV in MBUX in certain countries, but not while driving. For sure it’s something we’re looking into, and we also need to consider the different laws and different rules in each market.”

READ MORE:

Mercedes to reduce model line-up, platforms and powertrains

2021 Mercedes S-Class partially leaked in social media shots

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d 2020 review

Join the debate

Comments
12

TS7

10 June 2020

...to avoid cars equipped with pointless digital gewgaws.

10 June 2020

 Sounds interesting, but, how , if your buying Food, renting a room at a Hotel, do you pay?, is it secure?, I read that crime via hacking cars with a system like this is growing.

10 June 2020

"In China, the firm has also launched a feature that allows users to order and pay for takeaway food via voice control while driving. A service for booking cinema tickets is also being offered".

In the UK hopefully we will be keeping our eyes on the road and not thinking about ordering cinema tickets, why is this magazine reporting this dangerous and hopefully illegal development.

10 June 2020
405line wrote:

"In China, the firm has also launched a feature that allows users to order and pay for takeaway food via voice control while driving. A service for booking cinema tickets is also being offered".

In the UK hopefully we will be keeping our eyes on the road and not thinking about ordering cinema tickets, why is this magazine reporting this dangerous and hopefully illegal development.

Think of all the things you do in a Car whilst driving, your steering, using two, three pedals and a gearstick, paddles, your observing the road traffic, rear view mirror, using a Satnav maybe, and, you could be talking to your passenger,or an incoming call, so, if you can do all that, and you don't do all these mentioned all the time, pre-booking, paying on your way to wherever, there isn't anymore difficulty to do so.

10 June 2020

however you are a moron

10 June 2020
Don't worry about driver overload, the plan is to integrate this technology with ever improving self-driving vehicles so as more people get the car to drive itself on boring motorway journeys the free time can be used online spending and consuming, obviously the car manufacturers are looking to monetize this time.

If you are captive in basically a self-driving pod for a couple of hours they are exploring ways of making high margin revenue either directly from the user or via the service provider.

What is brave by Mercedes is trying to come up with a whole lock in ecosystem on their own without involving the OS manufacturer of the tech device that the average consumer has the most daily interaction with ...the smart phone.

10 June 2020

I had wrote a joking comment some time ago about using the protracted charging time in EVs to get other things done perhaps they were reading it.

289

10 June 2020

This sort of mindless pointless tech is only  useful in a self-driving context - to relieve boredom.

I can believe the brainless comment from M-B's Schanz "eyes on the road, hands on the wheel" - presumably brain in neutral, whilst perusing the next fix of Diabetic inducing fast-food rubbish to throw down our throats!

 

Come on....are we really that busy that we need to order our food whilst negotiating hundreds of other 2 ton vehicles travelling at high velocity (half of which are incompetant and should under no circumstances posess a driving licence).

 This is tech for tech's sake and Auto Manufacturers bottom line profits selling bullshit tech for inflated margins - having convinced moronic owners that this will make them a better/smarter (fatter/lazier) person.

10 June 2020
There is a small percentage of the population, but a profitable percentage, which keeps buying the latest tech, hence the market £1k+ smart phones.

Very few people utilise 100% of the features on the latest smartphone or tablet or anywhere near, but they have to have the latest tech.

Making cars is expensive, slow and complicated with relatively thin margins, can't blame the car manufacturers for looking for add on revenue, which even if small percentage of consumers use would be highly profitable due to the nature of the software/app industry; build once, sell or license repeatedly.

10 June 2020

 As we all know and see nearly every day people of all ages have some kind of device in there hand, be it a phone, a Tablet, it's even on your wrist now, the generation coming are growing up with this tech, it's not particularly amazing to them, I'm sure some of us are from the non digital age, hence some of us abhors the way tech is going, but today's and the future gen want it, the idea of being able to, on a whim to order a Pizza, or a Burger and have it delivered to wherever is great, so, you still have the choice, your next car may come with this tech, but you still have the option of ignoring it, not use it, it's up to you.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review