Connected services are becoming just as important as the car itself.
Mercedes-Benz is not a company that is struggling financially, nor does it build cars that nobody wants to drive. In fact, the S-Class is one of the best cars on the planet and is lauded the world over for being supremely luxurious and advanced. Still, it's that technological supremacy that could be the very reason that cars become less important than software.
Autocar spoke to representatives at Merc, one of whom has a job that focuses entirely on the user experience in cars. Nils Schanz says that the company is aiming to make artificial intelligence as profitable as the cars themselves, and the MBUX infotainment system is the channel that could make this possible.
Mercedes is still pushing ahead with exciting new models, some of which will be fully electric, but it's what you can do from the car that could eventually become another massive revenue stream. The MBUX system has been around in some markets since 2018, with European A-Class models being the first to showcase the latest version.
With enough development and the addition of services that could allow drivers to order food and more, the potential for a more advanced all-in-one machine rises. All of these innovations will ideally be possible to access without taking your focus off the road or your hands off the wheel. Speaking of which, Mercedes steering wheels are becoming more impressive than ever, and this could help us live a safer and more connected life.
AI systems in the automobile industry are reportedly worth £1.6 billion ($2 billion) already, but that's just a drop in a huge bucket that could be worth as much as £21 billion ($26.8 billion) by the year 2025. If this turns out to be accurate, the more advanced a car's infotainment system is, the more people will want to use it. The more people use it, the more third-party app developers and service providers will want to get in on the action, and that's where Mercedes and others can potentially make a fortune.
At the moment, Mercedes says that users will continue to pay nothing for its in-car services, but these other businesses that want a slice of the pie will likely look for ways to profit from investing in these in-car services. Whatever happens, the future looks to be a connected one.