Shades of Tomorrow: Mercedes-Benz's 'In-Car Gaming Challenge'

The Mercedes-Benz-sponsored “In-Car Gaming Challenge” isn’t exactly breaking news. Daimler made the announcement almost a week ago, with the story only gaining traction online thanks to a slower-than-usual news cycle. Frankly, we originally planned to ignore the topic entirely — until we realized no one discussed the broader implications.

That probably sounds more ominous than it should. Essentially, Mercedes is trying to diversify its business by getting into video games. But the potential ramifications stemming from that change could be felt across the automotive industry in the coming years. Daimler isn’t just seeking game-related business ventures — it’s trying to figure out how to make life inside an autonomous vehicle more appetizing.

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China to the Rescue: Geely Steps In to Save the Smart Brand

Contrary to past media reports, the Smart brand will not join the likes of Plymouth, Scion, and Pontiac in the great automotive graveyard. If that’s a good thing in your books, send a note of thanks to China’s Geely Holding, savior of Volvo and Lotus.

On Thursday, Smart parent company Daimler and Geely announced a 50:50 joint venture to develop and build a new generation of global-market Smart models in China.

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BMW I2 to Become Company's First Jointly-developed EV With Daimler

The unlikely alliance between BMW and Daimler, solidified earlier this year, is in the opening stages of producing something tangible. The duo are already said to be working on a joint platform for electric vehicles, which the German business publication Manager Magazin claims will underpin a new EV from BMW.

Called the i2, the battery-powered subcompact is to be slotted beneath BMW’s existing i3. While rumored to be similar in size, the i2 will abandon the i3’s carbon fiber body in an attempt to minimize costs and broaden appeal. Daimler would follow by producing its own version, likely using Mercedes-Benz’s EQ sub-brand.

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Smart's in Danger, and Not Just in North America

According to a report out of Germany, we’ll know by the end of the year whether Daimler AG intends to keep its Smart city car division alive.

Created a quarter century ago, Smart’s focus on microscopic urban runabouts like the Fortwo gave way to a plan to go all-electric in Europe by 2020, two years after ditching gasoline in North America. However, there’s a chance the automaker’s incoming CEO might relegate the badge to the scrap heap of history.

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Frenemies: BMW and Daimler Team Up on Mobility, Remain Foes in the Showroom

As the marketplace evolves and the rise of “mobility” threatens to lock laggard automakers out of new revenue streams, old rivals are coming together to get out ahead of the competition. Take BMW and Daimler, for example. The German companies, normally embroiled in high-end sales combat, have cosied up to each other in recent years.

While they’re not sharing platforms and engines, the two do feel there’s benefits in joining forces on mobility. By mobility, we mean carsharing and all that sexy stuff you can’t get enough of. A pact between the two rivals came last March.

On Friday, the two automakers released the details of their mobility partnership, announcing five joint ventures funded by a combined $1.13 billion investment.

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Refreshed Mercedes-Benz V-Class Gets New Look, Engine, Electric Siblings

Mercedes-Benz has already announced its electric EQ range will see an EQC SUV as the first inductee to its automotive stable — followed by the EQS sedan, EQA hatchback, and the compact EQB crossover. It also plans to introduce its EQV Concept in Geneva later this year, a model which draws much of its inspiration from the Mercedes V-Class (known in North America as the Metris).

However, the standard V-Class is going through some changes of its own. Thanks to a mid-cycle refresh in Europe, the model will gain more standard safety tech, new hardware, and added luxury options for 2020. It also goes under the knife for some tasteful plastic surgery, bringing it in line with the rest of the automaker’s lineup.

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Mercedes-Benz Wants You to Purchase Options Digitally After Your Car Leaves the Factory

Daimler is updating its “Mercedes me” app to include on-board purchases via a virtual store, available across the globe. With the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class and GLE, customers can even order some optional equipment online after purchasing their vehicle. According to the manufacturer, customers can subsequently purchase digital radio, smartphone integration with Apple Carplay or Android Auto, and enhanced navigation. Think of it like downloadable content (DLC) in video games or new apps for your phone, only for your car’s MBUX infotainment system.

While it’s handy to have the ability to add optional equipment remotely, we’re always hesitant to praise anything that monetizes digital content. DLC and microtransactions have really pitted the gaming community against publishers, resulting in some pretty heinous schemes to nickel and dime the customer base. Now, the trend has moved beyond the borders of that industry and into the automotive sector.

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Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan Pricing Puts Audi On Notice

Mercedes-Benz has announced pricing for its new A-Class sedan while throwing the gauntlet Audi’s way. The 2019 A220 starts at $32,500, which happens to be the exact cost of a base A3. The cars even share an identical $995 destination fee.

Considering both models feature 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engines producing 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, we anticipated similar MSRPs. But Daimler might as well put a photo of the A3 in crosshairs on the A-Class’ window sticker.

Cheaper than the uninspired (and soon to be revamped) CLA by a few hundred bucks and roughly $1,500 less than a GLA crossover, the A-Class sedan is now Mercedes’ most-affordable model in North America.

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Mercedes-Benz: Still Leading Luxury, by Volume

Mercedes-Benz managed to hold onto its heavyweight title in luxury sales for the third year running, at least as far as the United States is concerned. Though the domestic match was close — BMW’s 311,014 deliveries in 2018 were only a few thousand units shy of Mercedes’ 315,959. In fact, BMW volume improved 1.7 percent against 2017 while MB sales were down 6.3 percent, with most of the ground being lost in the second half of the year.

During that same time frame, Tesla sales exploded. By year’s end, the luxury EV manufacturer had 182,400 domestic deliveries under its belt — nearly four times the volume witnessed in 2017.

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Daimler Files Trademark for Probable Mercedes-Maybach SUVs

Trademark applications filed by Daimler with the United States Patent and Trademark Office may indicate a soon-to-be expanded lineup for its premium line of Mercedes-Maybach vehicles. According to some detective work by AutoGuide, the automaker recently filed three applications with the USPTO for vehicles using the names GLS 600, GLS 680, and S 680.

While it wasn’t alway the case, Mercedes currently uses automotive designations above 600 to denote vehicles reserved for the ultra-luxury Maybach sub-brand. The GLS-Class’ trim presently tops out at 550 before qualifying as an AMG-enhanced model. While that doesn’t guarantee a Maybach SUV, it does make it a likely prospect. At the very least, it would seem Mercedes wants to introduce a more lavish GLS in the near future.

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Daimler and BMW Looking to Take the Relationship Further: Report

Despite representing one of the great automotive rivalries, Daimler and BMW aren’t immune from the need to seek out cost savings in a rapidly evolving landscape. The two automakers have already teamed up on matters like components purchasing, and last year combined their respective car-sharing ventures.

However, sources close to the companies claim Daimler and Bimmer want to take it further, potentially sharing vehicle platforms and electric vehicle batteries.

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2020 Mercedes GLE Now Two Grand Cheaper, But Also More Expensive

Mercedes-Benz just announced the updated pricing scheme for its redesigned GLE-Class, but there’s an issue. Depending on how you frame things, the model is either two thousand dollars cheaper or quite a bit more expensive.

For the 2020 model year, Mercedes will supply North American customers with the GLE 350. It starts at $53,700 (plus $995 for destination) and replaces the GLE 400 as the line’s starting point. However, it also replaces the 400’s V6 and mandatory 4Matic all-wheel drive — and that’s where things get slippery.

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Invisible Markets: Mercedes-Benz Launches Hydrogen-powered GLC F-Cell

Mercedes-Benz says it has begun deliveries of the GLC F-Cell, a battery-electric vehicle that can run on hydrogen or a stored electrical charge. That would make it the most sensible hydrogen vehicle currently in existence, which isn’t saying much.

At any rate, it doesn’t really matter because you’ll probably never see one.

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Smart Brand in Danger, Report Claims

Pick your jaw up off the floor. The Smart brand, officially spelled with a lowercase “s” that we can’t abide by, is now 20 years old, but seems destined to leave this earth before it has to start worrying about the big three-oh.

Smart’s development partner, Renault, is reportedly entertaining thoughts of leaving the relationship, opening the door to Smart’s death… or substitution.

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BMW Buying Out Brilliance Automotive in China, Adding Capacity for U.S.

Now that China has relaxed its joint-ownership mandates, BMW has announced that it will procure a majority stake in its venture with Brilliance Automotive. The German firm will be the first foreign automaker to have majority control of its business in the region.

Being first will not come cheaply, however. It will cost BMW $4.2 billion to assume control with a majority stake of 75 percent of the business — albeit as part of a larger deal. All the manufacturer has to do is come up with the funds and wait until 2022, when rules limiting foreign ownership for all Chinese auto ventures are officially lifted.

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  • Fred As a British Car Fan I liked them, but then I sat in one and changed my mind. I like the unique looks of the newer ones.
  • FreedMike Not much to look at, but these were sweet to drive.
  • EBFlex Ford finally making a good decision although they should shut down their EV operations and investment all together. Why lose that money too?
  • Mike Lol. This is the king of suvs. And its made by GM.Why is everyone trashing it?Top of its its class for a quarter century.
  • Frank Drove past there last week, plant has a huge poster of a bronco on the outside. I was thinking "Is that where they build the new broncos?" I know they use to make the Edge and that other mundane SUV there but I believe both have been canned.