Why the Mercedes Avatar Concept Is Behind the Times
Interesting design is futile if it bets on trends too late
Car concepts provide the customer with insight into the company’s technological potential and what cars could look like 20 years in the future. In many cases, car concepts are state of the art — exquisite design with a hint of minimalism — and represent the future as we’ve imagined it in sci-fi movies.
These concepts require a lot of time to design and strong financial backing, often without a return on investment. At the same time, car concepts can be seen as a marketing strategy to attract customers to the company’s brand (and intellectual property).
Good Idea, but Obsolete
The car concept (pictured above) by Mercedes-Benz is a collaboration with James Cameron, the producer of Avatar. This concept is outdated for several reasons.
The marketing perspective
Why Avatar? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good concept and based on a top blockbuster movie. However, Avatar came out 11 years ago. While many people remember the movie, some might scratch their heads in confusion.
This car concept isn’t for sale. It’s a marketing tool to highlight Mercedez-Benz’s technological capabilities and their potential for futuristic automobiles.
Mercedez-Benz should have noticed that most futuristic automobile concepts include autonomous driving (if only they’d done their homework). The Avatar Vision concept is missing this feature.
This car concept made me see Mercedez-Benz with different eyes. I had higher expectations for them specifically because of last year's car concept (pictured below).
This is what a car 20 years in the future should look like, and from a performance perspective, it beats this year's concept. I also believe that most people see Mercedes as a business class vehicle which is represented by the EQS concept, but not by the Avatar concept.
Shifting their vision to something more fanciful can cost the company valuable customers and lead to a butterfly effect.
The technological perspective
Although the Avatar car concept features top-notch battery technology and an impressive hybrid design, it’s outdated because it doesn’t incorporate self-driving capabilities. We’re talking about the automobile of the future after all.
The way you control the car is interesting, sure (pictured below). But realistically, how useful would it be compared to a steering wheel and peddles?
The car has a high tech joystick that is controlled by your hand. You want the car to go forward, you simply push forward with your hand.
Imagine being stuck in terrible highway traffic, it’s likely you’ll either 1) become so relaxed that you forget to pay attention and crash or 2) too stressed about how simplified the controls are and crash.
Mercedez relied on their reputation this year — the company has previously set high standards. (Needless to say, I have criticisms for them). Telsa is the one setting the stage as well as the standards for next 20 years in the automobile industry.
Last year’s EQS design had self-driving potential because of artificial intelligence working with over 100 different sponsors within and around the car. This would prompt different behavior to keep the driver and passengers safe throughout the car ride.
The design perspective
The design is brilliant and represents Avatar well. Inspired by one of the movie’s themes to preserve natural habitat, 70% of the car was built with recycled materials.
While we wait for future cars with fewer buttons and autonomous driving controlled by artificial intelligence, there has to be something more sophisticated up Mercedez’s sleeve than a joystick controller. In the end, the concept was too minimalistic.