Daimler strengthens international R&D network: Growth in Silicon Valley
- Mercedes-Benz first automotive manufacturer in Silicon Valley: excellent partner network since almost 20 years
- Doubling of resources in the new headquarters in Sunnyvale in the next few years
- Advanced User Experience Design and Autonomous Driving are new focus areas in Silicon Valley
- Fast pace of innovation and long-standing partnerships are defining characteristics of the R&D Center
– Group Research & Advanced Engineering (Silicon Valley/California, New Jersey)
– Advanced User Experience Design (Silicon Valley/California)
– eDrive & Powertrain (Michigan)
– Advanced Exterior Design (California)
– Tech Center (California, Michigan)
“We have been operating various R&D locations in North America for many years now, in order to incorporate our customers’ needs and technological and social trends into our vehicles more quickly,” notes Prof. Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
After almost 20 years in Palo Alto, MBRDNA is now moving into a larger building as its R&D headquarters in Sunnyvale, just a few miles away. A workforce of around 100 is presently employed at the Mercedes-Benz Silicon Valley R&D Center, with plans for a doubling of resources in the next few years.
Work on future infotainment and telematics solutions
Activities at the new MBRDNA headquarters include work on future premium infotainment and telematics solutions aimed at enabling our customers to continue their digital lifestyle in their vehicles, such as the Mercedes-Benz Apps for COMAND Online, mbrace or the Digital DriveStyle app. R&D work is also performed on the seamless integration of technologies, applications and smart devices into vehicles, such as the Apple iPhone and Android smartphones.
Another development and design focus in Sunnyvale is on shaping a holistic user experience with the aim of rendering the driver’s interaction with the vehicle and its surroundings as simple, useful and delightful as possible.
The MBRDNA headquarters have also long been concerned with adapting driving assistance systems for the US market. This area is now undergoing substantial expansion into a research and advance development engineering department which will focus on functions relating to autonomous driving.
Other areas of research and development are fuel cell-powered electric vehicles and battery technologies. Social trends in the USA are examined by the Society & Technology Research Group, which provides well-founded information on the American market and assesses current trends and their possible consequences. Since 2012 a team of Business Innovation, a Daimler AG think tank, has been in operation at MBRDNA, concerned with the development of innovative business models which go beyond the core business area of automobile manufacturing.
Innovative culture and partnerships distinguish the location
MBRDNA was established in 1994. “We were the first automobile manufacturer with a research facility in Silicon Valley,” says Prof. Weber. “It was already apparent to us back then that not only IT history but also the future of automotive history would be written here.” Silicon Valley, one of the most creative regions on earth, is not characterized by ingenuity alone. It also stands for a unique culture of cooperation: short distances, networking, innovations and informal meetings.
Nowhere else on earth boasts such a creative and open-minded approach and offers comparable opportunities for collaboration in areas such as vehicle-integrated internet, smartphones and apps and the vehicle as part of the “Internet of Things”. The proximity to companies such as Google, Apple or Facebook as well as small, creative start-ups enables Mercedes-Benz to implement innovations in its vehicles quickly and in close cooperation with its partners while keeping pace with the development cycles of consumer electronics.
Growth strategy: systematic expansion of the international R&D network
The opening of the new headquarters and Silicon Valley R&D Center represents the second major expansion of an international R&D location this year: in spring the new, enlarged Mercedes-Benz R&D center was opened in Bangalore, India.
Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development already employ a workforce of some 13,000 at 22 bases in ten countries, with 10,800 of this total working in Germany. This international network is to undergo further substantial expansion in future as part of the “Mercedes-Benz 2020” growth strategy.
The international activities are focused on direct customer benefits as a result of greater innovative strength and shorter development times. “Establishing a close-knit network of R&D bases which ideally complement one another throughout the world will enable us to secure our vehicles’ technology leadership on a long-term basis, thereby also bolstering the competitive strength of the Group as a whole,” explains Prof. Weber.