Mercedes’ new MB.OS software platform is like Skynet for a carmaker
The same day Mercedes-Benz dished on the optional interior in the 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, it dished on what the new Superscreen will make available to E-Class owners. Part of that will be the next-gen navigation experience being created in collaboration with Google, but there’s more — and Mercedes expects the changes to mean a lot more money for the company. Beyond being an infotainment system, not only will the software spread throughout the lineup, Mercedes says MB.OS will connect everything from vehicle development and the production value chain to vehicle functions and services long after the sale. Think of MB.OS as the program the automaker itself runs on, the breadth of capability “effectively making it an operating system for the entire Mercedes-Benz business.” In that case, vehicle infotainment would be just a node in the system.
MB.OS will debut on a new electric vehicle in the “Entry Luxury” segment on the new MMA platform (Mercedes Modular Architecture) next year. We’re not sure how much of the platform possibilities we’ll see in the new car, but we’re told part of what’s coming are new partnerships for video, gaming, and productivity. That includes being able to watch YouTube when parked or during autonomous driving; “a new dimension of in-car gaming through Antstream for arcade games;” and being able to join Zoom and Webex videoconferences from the comfort of an 12-way seat. Customers in China will get dedicated solutions from local providers like Tencent.
Proprietary development is expected to mean a better electric ownership experience and finer execution of automated driving as well. Because Mercedes can give MB.OS access to all vehicle data, EVs will provide more precise and reliable range data. Refilling at Mercedes’ coming charging network should also be more convenient via the MB.Charge ecosystem.
The money comes via MB.Connect and MB.Drive. The former is the umbrella for infotainment functions from navigation to entertainment and communication, the latter oversees the bundle of upgradeable driver assistance functions. The automaker says it made more than 1 billion euro in 2022 from “software-enabled revenues” like map updates and Live Traffic, both in the purview of MB.Connect. All MMA vehicles will be fitted with a new sensor suite enabling Level 2 assisted driving tailored to the more complex task of urban driving; ultimately, the company wants to offer Level 3 assisted driving at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. MB.Drive is where an owner could upgrade ADAS feature capability or go from Level 2 to Level 3 “with a fixed-term contract.” The carmaker plans that from 2025, certain functions will be upgradeable over the life of the vehicle, bringing in more billions every year.
The first hint of the world MB.OS will open can be had now on any Mercedes running the latest version of the current MBUX infotainment software. Google’s Place Details, with information on more than 200 million businesses around the world, can be accessed in the car. The new E-Class will take the next step with the third generation of MBUX that will allow the installation of certain third-party apps instead of apps being mirrored from the phone.