Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Mercedes-Benz unveils smart home on wheels

Steve Rogerson
January 23, 2020

Being described as a smart home on wheels, a connected compact Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo camper van made its show debut this month at the Caravan, Motor & Tourism (CMT) exhibition in Stuttgart.
The van is equipped with the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Control (MBAC) interface module. MBAC enables a number of functions in the living area – such as the lights or the heating – to be controlled centrally using a smartphone app, for example.
From spring 2020, this feature will see the Marco Polo become a smart home on wheels as standard.
Also present at the world's biggest tourism and leisure exhibition were the James Cook from Westfalia and the LBX 365 from Bimobil. These demonstrate the possibilities that MBAC offers conversion specialists in the motorhome segment who opt for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as a base vehicle.
"Connectivity is an important component of our product strategy which we have been intensively pursuing over the course of the past two years in the motorhome segment," said Klaus Maier, head of marketing and sales at Mercedes-Benz Vans. “In 2018, we celebrated the launch of our ground-breaking Mercedes-Benz Advanced Control interface module in concept vehicles. And, only a year later, the first conversion specialists were able to implement MBAC in motorhome prototypes based on the Sprinter. 2020 will now see MBAC added as a standard component to our own Marco Polo camper vans. With this, we can offer camping fans a completely new level of comfort and live up to our aspiration of being the innovative leader in the segment.”
The Marco Polo will feature MBAC as standard from spring 2020. Using the 26cm touchscreen central display in the cockpit and a smartphone app, a broad range of functions in the living area can be intuitively controlled from a central location. Functions include:

  • Checking the fresh water and grey water tank fill levels;
  • Checking the charge level of the auxiliary battery;
  • Controlling the warm-air auxiliary heater, including programming a timer and night-time temperature reduction;
  • Controlling the coolbox temperature;
  • Extending or retracting the electric pop-up roof;
  • Opening and closing the electrically operated sliding sunroof;
  • Controlling the sound system, regulating everything from the bass intensity to the sound setup; and
  • Adjusting the brightness level and colour temperature of the interior lighting, including that of the ambient lighting.
MBAC gives motorhome manufacturers – such as the Westfalia brand from Gotha or the off-road expert Bimobil from Oberpframmern – the option to integrate their body fittings into the connectivity provided by the base vehicle, regardless of shape and size. The interface module from Mercedes-Benz is available for camper vans as well as for alcove motorhomes, partially integrated and fully integrated motorhomes based on the Sprinter.
The operating concept is the same as that used in the Marco Polo. Additionally, a control panel with a touch function can be integrated into the living area of Sprinter-based motorhomes. Both, the James Cook and the LBX 365 make use of this.
Thanks to the integration of the MBUX multimedia system generation familiar from passenger cars, Mercedes Me connect services will be available from spring 2020 in the Marco Polo and will enable a smarter mobility experience. Among the services are the free basic services maintenance management, accident recovery and breakdown management, plus telediagnostics and remote vehicle diagnostics. Upon request, so-called vehicle setup services are also available. With this, it is possible to control such things as the tyre pressure or the fuel fill level.
Further optional services include vehicle monitoring with, for example, geofencing and vehicle tracking; navigation with live traffic, weather and sending of routes and PoIs (point of interest) to the vehicle; and multimedia with, for example, internet-in-the-car.
The services can be called up either using MBUX or the appropriate smartphone app. Mercedes Me connect has also been available since August 2019 in the Sprinter for motorhome applications.
At the exhibition, the Marco Polo showed not only its connectivity capabilities, but also a stylish presence thanks to the Premium Sport Package Exterior. The most eye-catching features of the package are the bumpers with chrome inserts and the 45.7cm light-alloy wheels in five-spoke design. The brake callipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering and the sports suspension round off the design package.