Van Experience Live 2017 and the future of vehicle tech

Van Experience Live 2017 and the future of vehicle tech

4 ‘vantastic’ ways the Mercedes-Benz event was at the forefront of cutting-edge vehicle technology

As a partner of Mercedes-Benz, Northgate attended the Van Experience Live 2017 event with a group of our VIP customers as well as our special guest, British Touring Car star Rob Austin.

Mercedes-Benz promised the biggest Van Experience Live to date and over 2,500 people registered to attend over the nine-day event.

The event, which aims to educate attendees about technological advances Mercedes-Benz have made in the LCV market, took place on a drizzly day at the legendary Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford.

Here are some things we learned from our visit:


1) Innovation

Spending £4.63 billion on Research and Development each year, it will not shock anyone that Mercedes are one step ahead of vehicle technology compared to their competitors.

Visitors were given an exclusive sneak peak of their upcoming and much-anticipated Concept X-Class, which Mercedes have described as the ‘world’s first premium pickup’. In addition, Mercedes provided an insight into the future with their Vision Van, introduced as the next generation of logistics.

Mercedes-Benz's Vision Van
(Mercedes-Benz’s Vision Van) 

Incorporating delivery drones and automated cargo space, the Vision Van aims to improve efficiency during a time when drivers are under increased pressure to deliver more and more. With the first prototype likely to land in 2018/2019, the future is coming sooner than you think.

2) Testing

With a 700-acre vehicle testing facility with rugged, multi-terrain tracks, Millbrook was the perfect location for the Van Experience, giving visitors the opportunity to push Mercedes’ 4x4 vans to the limit.

Split into small groups and guided by specialist instructors, Northgate’s Helena (Marketing Manager) and Manying (Marketing Executive) teamed up with BTCC racing driver Rob and his PR Diana for a drive like no other…

Van Experience 1
(PR Diana, Northgate’s Manying, and BTCC star Rob Austin look terrified as Helena, Northgate’s Marketing Manager, takes the wheel of the Vito) 

Taking turns behind the wheel, we were all given the chance to drive the vehicles in extreme conditions. Dealing with copious amounts of mud, steep hills, bumpy terrain, and a professional racing driver at the helm, the Mercedes vans coped admirably and none of our group got stuck once!

Van Experience 2
(Rob Austin was impressed by the performance of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles) 

Back on the smooth tarmac, we drove Mercedes-Benz vans alongside competitors’ vehicles around the speed bowl. This allowed visitors to test the power and technology in the Sprinter, Vito and the Citan and compare them to that of popular vans by competitors such as Volkswagen, Fiat, and Peugeot.


Van Experience 3

3) Safety

Safety may not be the most exciting topic at any event, but it is at the forefront of Mercedes’ technological advances. Guests were given a test drive by specialist drivers who demonstrated Mercedes vans’ Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) system, which triggered automatic braking when it sensed the driver was not braking hard enough.

In addition, the Collision Prevention Assist (CPA) programme aims to detect objects getting closer, triggering a warning if the driver appears to not act. On a wet stretch of road, visitors drove at a series of obstacles at speed, swerving at the last possible moment and causing the brakes to be automatically applied, subsequently stabilising the vehicle.

With ESP and CPA expected to be standard on all vehicles in the future, Mercedes are one step ahead of the market in regards to road safety.

Van Experience 4

4) Bodybuilders

Keen to show the wide scope of vehicle personalisation they can provide, Mercedes displayed 98 bodybuilders from their partners to demonstrate the array of bodies, equipment, and conversions available.

From Northgate’s dropside vehicle, to refrigerated vehicles and even ice cream vans – Mercedes-Benz have the solution for any business, representing the adaptability of their range. Three fully-wrapped vans were also on display, giving guests an insight into the variety of design options on offer.


Van Experience 5
(Northgate’s Mercedes dropside vehicle, pictured at a previous event, was on display at Van Experience Live 2017)

In conclusion, the event was an enjoyable day for Northgate employees, customers, and guests alike. Combining hands-on driving experience with educational sessions, attendees were provided an insight into how technological advances could affect their fleets in the not-so-distant future.

For some highlights from the day, please check out the following video: 

We hope to see you there next year!

Created: 10/10/2018 11:17:44

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