Delivering packages to vehicles instead of households is a great way to ensure your parcel doesn't get nicked while you're at the office. Automakers are trying it. Heck, even Amazon is giving it a go. And now Mercedes-Benz is entering the fray.
Mercedes-Benz announced this week that it has started a pilot program for in-car package delivery in Berlin, Germany. The program has the unfortunate name of Chark, which is a portmanteau of "change" and "park," but it sounds like something you'd look up on Urban Dictionary. It's part of Daimler's Lab1886 innovation center, which devises and tests new programs outside the traditional core business.
The pilot program is open to owners of 2015-or-newer Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, as well as the V-Class van. Everything is set in motion by using the address of the Chark hub and the user's personal Chark ID number when checking out online, and the owner can choose a window for delivery. When the parcel is within 500 meters of the car's location, the courier will be granted one-time access to unlock the vehicle, placing the package inside and locking it again. The car cannot be started using this method. At the end, the owner will get a notification, including a picture, confirming the package is in the right spot.
There are some basic requirements, but they're all pretty straightforward. The car needs to be within 500 meters of the indicated parking location at the agreed-upon time, and the vehicle must be easily accessible. The windows and doors need to be closed and locked, with the vehicle in Park, and it must be devoid of valuables, animals and people. The car also needs a solid connection with the Mercedes Me network, which is how the courier is granted vehicle access.
Mercedes-Benz isn't the first group to give in-car package delivery a try. Volvo started , and more recently, Skoda . And then there's , an in-car parcel drop-off service that works with multiple automakers, including Ford, GM and Honda vehicles.