Our minds were blown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show by the radically cool and futuristic Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept, which gave us a bright look at the future of autonomous transport. It turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg, as the Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo cranks up the Jetsons factor even further with a retractable driver’s seat and steering wheel, lounge seating layout, and hologram infotainment interface.
The idea for the Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo is all about creating a new kind of space for Generation Z (born after 1995), a group which essentially has never been without digital technology. Within the wild urban density of a city like Tokyo, Mercedes hopes to transform the interior space of cars into a restive hangout that can get you from A to B without anxiety. It seats five, and has the approximate footprint of a midsize car.
Now back to the 3D holograms. The images are projected into the center of the Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo with a pair of special panels on the roof and floor. Apps, maps, and other information appear in front of passengers, and can be manipulated by hand like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. The holographic projection is the centerpiece of the newly designed interior, in which riders sit on a couch in an oval arrangement that supposedly better facilitates face-to-face interaction. (Let’s be honest, you’re going to ignore your boring friends and watch the hologram.) Innovative algorithms apparently evolve to learn riders’ habits and preferences, with a suite of tech software with Asimovian names like “Deep Machine Learning” and an “Intelligent Predictive Engine.”
In case you actually need to drive, a kind of jump seat can pop out of the couch to accommodate a driver who will also have to pull a steering wheel out of the front dashboard.
A single large falcon door on the passenger side reveals a massive opening for easy entrance and exit, framed with blue lighting and 26-inch wheels to contrast with the monochrome metallic paint we know from the earlier F 015 and Vision Gran Turismo concepts. The vehicle’s shape itself is more van-like than the F 015, but the basic pod shape, massive front glasswork, and blue LED lighting are retained. The Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo also adds an illuminated audio visualizer that corresponds with whatever music is playing inside the car.
The hydrogen fuel-cell and battery-electric drivetrain carry over from the F 015 to the Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo concept. The plug-in hybrid can be charged wirelessly and without direct contact via induction, with a total driving range of 609 miles.