Blog Archives

Daimler’s new ‘Ask Mercedes’ chatbot

Daimler will soon be introducing a digital assistant called “Ask Mercedes” that ties together previous 
digital customer support projects into a single voice-activated app.

Chief digital officer Sabine Scheunert said “Ask Mercedes” will be available in several markets and languages immediately before being rolled out globally. Mercedes is one of Daimler’s leading car brands.

Scheunert said the “chatbot” will allow both existing and also potential customers to interact with Daimler services, day or night, using voice-activated commands or text-based chat.

Chatbots are software programmes which can respond to posed questions from users using a conversational approach.

Customers can present questions to the Ask Mercedes app when it is installed in the company’s recent model cars, or by using an app or by speaking to a Google Assistant voice-activated electronics controller when they are at home.

Tagged with: , ,

Mercedes recall worldwide

Over one million Mercedes-Benz vehicles are set to be recalled worldwide, thanks to an unintended issue with airbag deployments.

According to a statement from Daimler, an electrostatic discharge as well as a broken clock spring and insufficient grounding of steering components could lead to deployment of the airbag on the driver’s side.

As part of the fix, the statement said dealers would add new grounding to the steering components.

Up until now, no deaths have been reported and the issue is not related to the recent Takata recall.

The recalls covers some 2012-2018 model year A, B, C, and E-class models and CLA, GLA and GLC vehicles.

Tagged with: , ,

New details dropped for E-Class Cabriolet

Mercedes-Benz has announced further details, including manufacturer’s pricing, for the new E-Class Cabriolet.

The four-seater convertible is the fourth member of the E-Class line-up, which has been entirely refreshed over the past 12 months, and features a fully automatic soft-top cover.

The E 300 opens the range, powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque matched to a 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission.

The E 400 4MATIC is the first model to contain an all-wheel drive system. A 3.0-litre, six-cylinder engine, partnered with the same 9G-TRONIC automatic configuration, produces an increased 245kW of power and 480Nm of torque.  

As well as the bigger engine, the E 400 also contains a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system and virtual image windscreen projection as standard.  

The soft cover, which comes as standard across the range, can be fully opened and closed in 20 seconds when travelling at speeds of up to 50km/hr.

Inside the cabin, two 12.3-inch displays serve as the infotainment and vehicle control system, and can be voice controlled.

The new E-Class Cabriolet has increased its dimensions, and is now 4826mm long, 1860mm wide and 1428mm tall, and Mercedes says the wider footprint particularly benefits passengers in the rear.

So far, only the Manufacturers List Price in Australia has been revealed, at $(AU)123,500 for the E 300 and $(AU)157,500 for the E 400. These prices include GST but exclude dealer delivery and on-road costs.

Final local pricing is yet to be announced and drive-away price information will be available from authorised dealers.

Tagged with: , , , ,

Mercedes to recall entire EU diesel fleet

Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche

Virtually Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicle sold in the EU since 2011 will be recalled, Daimler has announced.

The move comes after allegations that the Mercedes-Benz had faked emissions tests were published in a German newspaper last week, and an investigation into Daimler in May.

Daimler refuses to say the announcement is a recall, dubbing it a “service action” in a statement.

Owners of nearly every model produced since 2011 will be asked to return their cars to their local dealer so the engine can be adjusted to reduce emissions.

Altering the 3 million cars on European roads will cost the German car maker $346 million, the Telegraph reports. The recall includes popular C-Class and E-Class Mercedes vehicles.

“The public debate about diesel engines is creating uncertainty,” chief executive of Daimler Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.

“We have therefore decided on additional measures to reassure drivers of diesel cars and to strengthen confidence in diesel technology.”’

The software update is expected to take approximately an hour, and will extend emissions controls on the engine so it will activate under wider conditions.

Zetsche said the action wasn’t the end of the diesel engine for Mercedes, and that the company is “convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions.”

Tagged with: , , , ,

Mercedes-Benz under investigation

A German newspaper has reported that Mercedes-Benz is under investigation for possibly selling over a million cars with excess emissions in Europe and the US.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, citing a search warrant issued by a court in Stuttgart, Germanny, says prosecutors were examining the possible use of illegal software to manipulate emissions test results in Mercedes-Benz vehicles between 2008 and 2016.

Both the prosecutor and Daimer, Mercedes’ parent company, declined to comment to Reuters regarding the report, but Daimler said the firm was fully cooperating with authorities and did not believe cars will lose certification.

“We take comfort from the fact that this is a European issue, not a US investigation. We also do not believe these Merc cars will lose their certification,” analysts from Bernstein Research told Reuters. “Our judgement is that Merc will be asked to recall these cars for a ‘software fix.’”

Bernstein estimated that if Daimler faced penalties at a similar per-car level to Volkswagen, the total fine would amount to $275 million to $400 million.

Stuttgart prosecutors conducted raids on 11 different sites in Germany as part of a wider probe into possible excess diesel emission from Daimler, and two employees are under investigation.

Mercedes-Benz has dropped plans to seek US approval to sell its 2017 diesel models, and investigations from the US Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are ongoing.

Tagged with: , , ,

AMG celebrates 50 years

AMG celebrates 50 years with a special edition GT3

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the high-performance AMG division of Mercedes-Benz. Founded in 1967 by Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, the sports car brand based in Affalterbach now employs 1600 staff.

AMG’s 50th year in operation follows record sales figures in 2016, with international growth of more than 40 per cent to over 100,000 vehicles.

Sales in New Zealand also broke records last year, spokesman for Mercedes-Benz Matt Bruce told Autofile, and as a percentage of sales, New Zealand represents the highest-selling AMG market in the world.

To commemorate the anniversary, the car maker plans to release the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Edition 50, with a unique colour concept and paint finish, restricted to just five cars worldwide. The 6.2-litre V8 supercar was released last year, and had a quadruple victory in the 24-hour race at Nürburgring.

Locally, AMG is celebrating 50 years with a series of unique experiences. “Mercedes-Benz New Zealand is providing 1 VIP, Festival of AMG experience each month to a buyer of a new or demonstrator AMG vehicle,” said Bruce. “12 total experiences will be awarded throughout 2017.”

These include a snow experience in Queenstown, and a day at the Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

“In addition, globally, Mercedes-AMG are launching an ‘Edition 50’ of the Mercedes-AMG GT, and we look forward to introducing this locally,” he added.

After a record 2016, AMG’s New Zealand operations have no plans to slow down. 29 models are currently available in the range, and plans are underway to add the new GT Roadster, and GLC 63, to the line-up.

“We’re really confident that the AMG brand will continue to grow from strength to strength,” Bruce said.

Tagged with: , , , ,

Mercedes builds new EV battery factory

Angela Merkel attended the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone at the new factory

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG has broken ground on its $690 million electric battery plant in Kamenz, Saxony, at a ceremony attended by German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The automotive industry is facing a fundamental transformation and we see ourselves as the driving force behind this change,” said Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche.

“The battery factory in Kamenz is an important component in the implementation of our electric offensive. By 2022, we will have more than ten purely electric passenger cars in series. We also continue to drive forward the hybridization of our fleet.”

Daimler has invested an overall $1.6 billion in global battery production so far, and have delivered over 80,000 batteries to consumers. The new battery factory, the second built by the company, will begin operation next year.

 “With the second battery plant in Kamenz, we are giving the initial start for the development of the first premium eBattery factory,” said Mercedes board member Markus Schäfer.

Mercedes have also unveiled more plans for their next-generation electric fleet, which has been promised almost $16 billion of funding. Ten EVS will be launched over the next five years.

The company predicts total vehicle sales for Mercedes-Benz will be between 15 per cent and 25 per cent electric by 2025.

Tagged with: , , , , ,

ANCAP for Great Wall

Four vehicles have been rated by safety watchdog ANCAP, with the Great Wall Steed ute scoring the lowest marks at two stars.

Stella Stocks, general manager of motoring services at AA, told Auofile it’s very disappointing that two-star vehicles are sold new in New Zealand.

“The biggest issue for AA is that two-star vehicles can still come in to the country and be sold new. People need to buy the safest vehicle they can afford, and they should check out all the safety features and the ANCAP rating and the areas of concern in the vehicle before they buy.

“Most cars and many utes have five stars, and they are in the secondhand market,” she says.

ANCAP CEO James Goodwin also found the results disappointing. “Despite claims from the vehicle brand that the Chinese dual cab is ‘all-new’ and offers ‘outstanding levels of performance, value, safety and comfort,’ the underpinnings of the Steed differ little to that of the previous generation,” he says.

“While Great Wall Motors has added safety assist technology not available on its earlier offering to the market, the Steed’s structural integrity is like a step back in time,” Stocks added.

“In new cars today we expect to see a very high standard of occupant protection during a crash test. However, the Steed doesn’t come close to meeting that expectation.”

The previous-generation V240 ute also received a two-star rating when it was tested in 2009. The model was discontinued in 2016.

The dual-cab Steed was released in September last year after a new distributor took over from independent importer Ateco Automotive in July 2016.

“While the Steed is equipped with six airbags and electronic stability control, features which were not offered on the previous model, there has been little change to the vehicle’s structure to improve the safety of the passenger cabin,” Goodwin added.

Concerning results from ANCAP included excessive footwell deformation, separation of footwell panels and pedal displacement in the frontal offset crash test, which scored 8.3 out of 16.

Driver and front passenger protection from whiplash was rated marginal, and ANCAP warned that without top-tether child restraints, the ute was unsuitable for transporting young children.

However, three other vehicles received five-star ratings – The Honda Civic sedan and hatch, the Hyundai i30 (and all variants) and the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo Activity van.

The five-star rating applies to all variants of the Honda Civic sedan, with the hatch to be released locally in May. The Type R is the exception and is unrated.

The top rating for the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo Activity applies to all models built from January 2017.

Tagged with: , , , , ,

Daimler to wind down fuel-cell research

The head of Daimler AG, Dieter Zetsche, said at an automotive conference in Stuttgart, Germany that hydrogen fuel cells are no longer a major part of future research and development plans for the company.

According to engineering news site Smart2Zero, Zetsche told the summit that declining battery costs have made fuel cells uncompetitive in the growing EV market.

“Battery costs are declining rapidly, whereas hydrogen production remains very costly,” Zetsche said.

Last week, Zetsche announced at the annual shareholder’s meeting a $15 billion cash injection into its EV development fund and detailed plans to roll out 10 new EV models by 2022, including a Mercedes-Benz S-Class plug-in hybrid.

Zetche’s twin announcements suggest the 2013 agreement between Ford, Daimler and Renault-Nissan to jointly develop fuel-cell technology could be winding down. The process of manufacturing liquid hydrogen to power fuel-cell vehicles is extremely energy-intensive, and the recent development of long-range electric batteries have rendered the chief advantage of hydrogen fuel-cells over other alternative energy sources moot.

Fuel-cell vehicle sales lag far behind EVs. The most popular fuel-cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai, has sold just 2,840 units as of February 2017, with sales projected to top 30,000 by 2020. Conversely, the Nissan Leaf, the highest-selling EV worldwide, sold 250,000 units by the end of 2016.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Latest ANCAP ratings

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has published safety credentials for the Fiat 500X, Subaru Impreza and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

“The release of these ratings sees a diverse spread of models meet the highest safety standards,” said ANCAP chief executive officer, James Goodwin.

“The Small Car and Compact SUV categories are highly competitive and the Impreza and 500X carry the 2016 datestamp providing consumers with a leading choice in their respective categories,” he said.

The Fiat 500X and Subaru Impreza achieved high scores in each of the destructive crash tests however autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane support systems (LSS) are available only on higher specified variants and are not offered on the base variant.

The Impreza and E-Class both achieved ‘Good’ ratings for pedestrian protection with the 500X falling just shy of this top rating.

“The E-Class has been awarded a 2016 datestamp and provides a long list of standard safety features and technologies including all three grades of autonomous emergency braking, an active bonnet for increased pedestrian protection and pre-crash systems which prepare for an impact in order to minimise occupant injury.”

The five-star rating for the Fiat 500X applies to all front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants built from July 2016. The Impreza and E-Class ratings apply to all variants.

ANCAP is supported by all Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government, Australian state and territory governments, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission, IAG and the FIA Foundation.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

MPs visit dealership site

Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges and Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross have visited the construction site for Armstrong Motor Group’s massive new dealership in Botany.

The project is on track for opening in May 2017 and is well over half way through, with the roof installed and concrete floors poured. The project began on May 9, 2016.

The site boasts is made up of over 5,100 square metres under one roof, including 21 service bays, and is understood to be the largest retail dealership building in New Zealand.

For the Armstrong Motor Group, this further expands its Auckland footprint with dealerships already in Grey Lynn, Greenlane and Mt Wellington.

Mercedes-Benz has awarded the franchise for the area to Armstrong Group – making it the third Mercedes-Benz dealer in Auckland and the tenth in New Zealand.

The new motor vehicle dealership is situated at 279 Ti Rakau Drive.

Tagged with: , , ,