I was quietly hoping Mercedes had an automotive breakthrough of a temporal nature.
After all, the Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Mercedes parent Daimler, was at the IFA 2016 trade show in Berlin to talk about the car as a quality time machine. Unfortunately, the focus was more about a quality time machine.
Zetsche does make the argument that technology will help you wrest back valuable time lost from driving, sitting in traffic and finding parking -- especially once self-driving cars become a reality. But that's not really the same.
Mercedes is just one of many automakers and tech companies working on cars smart enough to drive without any human control. As evidence of Daimler's push toward technology, Zetsche gave the keynote address on the opening day of IFA, one of the world's largest electronics trade shows.
Zetsche, best known to US consumers as Dr. Z, the face of Chrysler during a high-profile ad campaign that ran in 2006, laid out his vision of what Mercedes drivers can expect in the near future. Things are looking pretty good.
Here are the highlights from his keynote:
In Car Office
Mercedes believes you can be more productive in the car. The automaker is working with Microsoft Exchange to sync work data to the car. The car will know that you have an appointment for a conference call while you're on the road and automatically dial in. Or it will spot where you next off-site meeting is located and automatically provide navigational directions.
Zetsche said the car will also be smart enough to offer suggestions on phone calls to make based on your emails.
Once self-driving cars take over, the service will be a platform for more extensive tasks like FaceTime video chats.
This feature will roll out to Mercedes models in the first half of next year.
Sitting in a stationary position can be unhealthy, and select Mercedes cars will offer special seats with cushions that periodically move so your body stays in motion.
"It feels good on your back on a long journey," Zetsche said.
Going a step further, Zetsche touted a feature that would package existing features like lighting, air conditioning, heating and a massage function in the seat. The environment is continuously adjusted for the well-being of the passenger.
Everyone hates parking
While Zetsche loves driving, he hates parking. Then again, who doesn't?
Mercedes plans to work with Bosch to help drivers find nearby parking spots. The company is testing a community-parking program where Mercedes cars would talk to each other and dish about open spaces.
A service will also provide info on open spots at nearby garages.
Taking it further, he wants Mercedes cars to be able to drop off the passengers at their destination and find their own parking spots.
"Parking simply will not be an issue in your life," he said.
Your car, your mailbox?
Zetsche also talked up the idea that packages can be delivered to your car. Daimler has partnered with delivery company DHL to make this happen with its Smart car line.
Once you set the delivery location as your car, the DHL delivery person would be able to find it through an app, and be able to open it once to drop off a package. There's a connected module in the car that verifies the delivery person and opens the door.
The company plans to start the service with its line of Smart cars in Germany this fall, and plans to bring it to Mercedes next year.
These concepts represent the early building blocks, which will be fully realized once cars start to go fully autonomous.
"Everyone is talking about digitalization and connected cars," he said. "All of that offers huge opportunity."
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