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On the road towards new mobility concepts

Mercedes-Benz’ iconic logo featuring a three-pointed star within a perfect circle is a symbol synonymous with the brand’s timeless excellence and a testament to the company’s pioneering spirit, passion, and commitment to continue creating innovative and cutting-edge models. The New Generation EQ concept car is one example of an electric vehicle that proves that sexy, cool, and classy cars can still be practical and environmental-friendly.

2016 was a big year for Mercedes-Benz Plug-in Hybrid models with the C-Class, E-Class, GLE, and S-Class launched in Hong Kong in November. These models operate with either a combustion engine or electric motor and are interchangeable. As the pioneer in automotive technology, Mercedes-Benz continues to put research, development, and innovation at the core of their future. In 2013, Mercedes-Benz was the first to explore autonomous driving with their S-Class research vehicle, driving 125 kilometres from Mannheim to Pforzheim in Germany.

Whilst Mercedes-Benz is pushing the technological frontier in various markets, the brand is also pragmatic and consciously aware of the practical difficulties faced by Hong Kong’s motorists. Andreas Binder, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Limited, explains that despite technological advances over the years, the infrastructure for electric cars is still very much in its infancy in Hong Kong. Whilst other manufacturers may cash in early on the evolving demands of the market, Mercedes-Benz has a little more class and a little pinch of patience to achieve perfection.

The Mercedes-Benz Plug-in Hybrid
Binder suggests that the Plug-in Hybrid vehicles might be a better option for Hong Kong given that more than 50% of electricity is generated from coal in Hong Kong, negating concerted efforts to reduce carbon emissions and attempts to be environmental friendly. This can also play an important role in dictating the demand from the more eco-aware customers.

“The biggest challenge, in my view, and this is for every country, is the question of the energy mix or where the energy comes from. Hong Kong is not an ideal platform at this moment. More than 50% of our electricity is Coal-Fueled Electricity. When you look at the overall consumption of electricity and what an electric vehicle brings, then the energy mix is not in big favor of that technology yet. So we have challenges here in Hong Kong that need to be addressed. Of course much of these is not in the hands of the manufacturers but rests with the government,” says Binder.

Despite the policy and operational challenges in the market adoption of electric vehicles, Mercedes-Benz introduced several Plug-in Hybrid models with higher state battery recharging, safety features, and machine flexibility that continue to give us a glimpse of an exciting future. Thanks to the combination of combustion engine and electric drive, the Mercedes-Benz hybrid drive systems deliver impressively low consumption, but with high performance.

The combination of these two technologies is ideal for Hong Kong given the current challenges by many electric vehicle owners such as the limited number of charging stations (currently at 1,300 in Hong Kong) which has created a supply-demand mismatch. Therefore a dramatic improvement in the infrastructure for electric vehicles is needed in all areas, and this is something Binder believes the Plug-in Hybrid vehicles will be able to bridge before the e-mobility stage.

“Now it’s getting exciting. I personally think that the characteristics of a city like Hong Kong definitely can offer a good platform for green mobility concepts. The strong efforts the government is showing here towards the electric mobility is not a surprise. We all know that electric mobility will come in the future not only in Hong Kong but the whole world. We are already on that road towards a new mobility concept,” says Binder. With the new Mercedes-Benz Plug-in Hybrid series, Mercedes-Benz is surely one step ahead on the road towards new mobility concepts.

Another major success factor for Mercedes-Benz is their enhanced customer service which is a component of the company mandate they consider to be of the highest priority. Mercedes-Benz is constantly enhancing its service through the “Best Customer Experience” programme. Binder says, “Our excellent partner, Zung Fu Company, is instrumental in bringing these enhancements to our customers. The feedback is positive. Hong Kong and Macau are established and mature markets which means the brand has to be creative to attract new customers, so we are trying to stay one step ahead of the market.”

Mercedes-Benz continues to steal hearts with their tradition, elegance, and technology with the huge success of the recent release of their advanced E-Class. Binder says, “This is the most intelligent car Mercedes-Benz has ever built. It also enhances efficiency, safety and comfort, reduces the stress level when driving and intensifies the motoring pleasure. From a technological advancement standpoint, it is far ahead of all of our competitors.”

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