The future is autonomous

Daimler Financial Services stands not only for the "S" in CASE, but is involved in every part of Daimler’s strategy called CASE. For example, with the team of Thomas Hengstermann that is preparing the company for the age of autonomous driving - the "A" in CASE - in a very special manner. Read more about this topic in the interview with the Head of Autonomous Services & Portfolio Integration at Daimler Financial Services.

Thomas Hengstermann, Head of Autonomous Services

Daimler Financial Services stands not only for the "S" in CASE, but is involved in every part of Daimler’s strategy called CASE. For example, with the team of Thomas Hengstermann that is preparing the company for the age of autonomous driving - the "A" in CASE - in a very special manner. Read more about this topic in the interview with the Head of Autonomous Services & Portfolio Integration at Daimler Financial Services.

Tests are already underway near our development sites in Sunnyvale, California/USA, and Boeblingen, Baden-Württemberg/Germany. Daimler recently announced it received a testing license in Beijing, the first international automaker to do so. In addition, a public pilot will run in California in 2019.

Thomas Hengstermann, Head of Autonomous Services & Portfolio Integration at Daimler Financial Services and Daimler Mobility Services, talks about the role of Daimler Financial Services in the development of autonomous driving (AD), challenges for real-world traffic conditions and the next cities that will serve as potential test regions.

 

First, let me give you a definition of our concept of autonomous driving: We see it as an evolution based on our wealth of experience from mytaxi, car2go and moovel. This means, customers order an autonomous vehicle with one of our mobility services apps. They are then transported from point A to point B without a driver. According to studies conducted by McKinsey, this business model will produce annual sales of € 400 billion in 2030. Initial customer surveys confirm the strong interest in and the willingness to pay for such a service.

Daimler Financial Services contributes to the development of autonomous driving through much of the future autonomous value chain. We are working very closely with our R&D colleagues who are developing the autonomous driving kit and the matching vehicles. Through our experiences from the Daimler Mobility Services Group, we bring customer requirements and perspectives to our colleagues. Together, we shape the customer journey and are already devoting a great deal of time to the service design.In addition, we have to finance and manage a large fleet of autonomously driven vehicles. We are in a very strong position in this regard with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Athlon. But we also benefit tremendously from our experiences with car2go and its daily operations and optimization of fleets. At the end of the value chain, the autonomous vehicles are offered to customers via our mobility services (mytaxi, car2go, moovel). We are investing in all these areas as Daimler Financial Services and Daimler Mobility Services. As a result, we are well positioned for the future and will lead the competition.

First of all, we have to master the development of the hardware and software for the autonomous driving system. That is a major challenge. Quality, safety and reliability all come before speed. "Reliable" implies that we take the customer to his or her destination in any weather condition and in all traffic situations— construction zones, the behavior of other drivers etc. The challenge in the service design and the development of the business model lies in anticipating a range of customer requirements. Customer acceptance of the service will be crucial. These are complex expectations. Testing and validating at an early stage are of tremendous importance. However, the legal and regulatory framework and prerequisites must be in place as well.

We use two pivotal factors for this process. Firstly, trying to clarify regulatory permit and the partnership with a city to start pilot operations of autonomously driving vehicles. Secondly, the proximity to our Research & Development locations is very helpful for a successful pilot run. In addition, we look at cities where our mobility services are popular and which offer highly promising economic framework conditions.

We are in contact with a number of cities. In any case, we are planning on significant growth in many cities and countries through 2030 and beyond.

That differs from person to person. Customer surveys show that 20 percent of the population in the U.S. would already use an autonomous transport service today. If you look at current customers of mobility services in Europe and the U.S., that figure is closer to 80 percent. Personally, I am sitting in my car for at least two hours every day. I look forward to eventually filling this time with things other than driving to improve equality of life. Nonetheless, it will take at least until 2030 before personal driving will be replaced by autonomous driving to a significant extent and the wide range of personal situations for daily mobility needs can be covered.

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