- Everything you need to know about Mercedes Pro Connect
- What it means for fleet managers and drivers
- Which vehicles it fits on and how much it costs
There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes at a van fleet to ensure that the millions of parcels delivered every day get to where they are supposed to.
The modern fleet manager has a lot to factor in, but aided by a number of tools to help them do their job these days, with connected technology letting them know where a van is, what it is carrying and where it is due next.
You can go to a specialist company for this sort of technology, but some manufacturers are offering it under their own branding now, like Mercedes-Benz with Pro Connect. You can get this fitted as a factory option on the new Sprinter, or you can retro-fit it on a selection of Mercedes-Benz models
What does Pro Connect do?
Pro Connect is Mercedes’ own branding for telematics. This in itself is a technical term for vehicle tracking. It works on the same principle as the ‘black box’ technology that some insurance companies use to keep an eye on a car so they can then reward (or punish) drivers for how well they drive.
By keeping an eye on where all their vans are, a fleet manager sat back at base can then make decisions about which one is best placed to make a pickup.
The technology does so much more than that, though. It also keeps the fleet manager informed on the state of the van, feeding back information on the condition of the brake pads and the level of the coolant and of course how much fuel is in the tank.
It also claims to offer up-to-date traffic information, which can then be used to plan the most efficient route for a van out on a job.
Rather than putting all of the tech onto every Sprinter and upping the price, Mercedes has created a selection of packages – eight in all – which each cater to different needs.
How is Mercedes Pro Connect controlled?
The fleet manager gets a computer-based dashboard called the ‘Vehicle Management Tool’ while drivers get access to a smartphone app that allows them to send and receive data depending on which package they are signed-up for.
What packages are there available on Mercedes Pro Connect?
The eight packages available are as follows:
Helps to stay on top of regular repair requirements and helps out in the case of an emergency. Services offered include:
- Can send a notification when a service is due and provide information on the consumable parts on the Sprinter, e.g. when the brake linings are worn or if the coolant is low.
- Can provide an automatic (no obligation) quote from a preferred local service partner
- Sends data over to the garage ahead of service
- Connects to an emergency call line in the case of a breakdown or accident, accessed through a button in the overhead control panel
- Sends location and vehicle data to the recovery vehicle
- Uses sensors to detect when the van has been in a crash and contacts the emergency services automatically. It sends over the vehicle location to enable rescuers to find the crash site quickly and easily
- Sends over the air updates so the vehicle is always running the latest version of the necessary software
- Records time, date, location and odometer reading at the start and end of every trip made
- Allows the fleet manager to see which driver has made the trip
- Driver can categorise the purpose of the trip and say whether it is for business or personal reasons
- Creates a signed PDF for tax declaration purposes that differentiates personal and business trips
Efficient Fleet Management
Allows the fleet manager to see where vehicles are and what they are doing, so they can plan what they do next.
- Provides details on information such as the fuel level, range, mileage, AdBlue status and tyre pressures
- Gathers all information in the management tool
- Shows where all the vehicles are
- Can create a virtual fence, or geofence, so the manager gets an alert if the vehicle leaves a certain area
- Sends an alert if the vehicle is suspected as stolen
Efficient Driving Style Analysis
Quite simply, this uses the various sensors on the van to assess a driver’s driving style and sends reports on how economical it is
Simplified Fleet Communication
- This lets the fleet manager use the Vehicle Management Tool to send information directly to the driver’s device, updating them on work that needs doing
- The van also features its own wifi hotspot, so the driver can connect devices to the internet
- Uses real-time traffic data to help plot the quickest route for a journey
- Is capable of sending other vehicles information on road conditions – for example if the ESP anti-skid control kicks in
- Automatically downloads updates for the navigation maps
- Can display information such as local fuel prices, the weather conditions and availability of local parking facilities
- Allows a manager to send a precise address straight to the vehicle’s navigation system remotely
- Has voice control for various online systems
Mobile Vehicle Access
This allows the driver to lock or unlock the vehicle, check whether the windows are closed or turn on the heating, all remotely.
Data Interfaces Mercedes-Benz Vans
Enables all the data produced by the Mercedes Pro Connect to be integrated into an outside, third-party vehicle management system.
If you aren’t sure which one you need best, then Mercedes has a tool on its site to help you choose. https://www.pro.mercedes-benz.com/content/pro/uk/en/tools/productfinder.html
Which Mercedes vehicles can I get Pro Connect on?
The only vehicle that you can buy with Pro Connect fully installed as a factory option is the new Sprinter. For now, anyway – most technology that starts life on the flagship model on a vehicle’s range ends up trickling down to smaller models eventually, so don’t be surprised if you see Pro Connect as a factory option on the smaller Vito or even the Citan in the future.
As with any feature on a vehicle, this will be driven by demand, though, so you aren’t likely to see the full raft of connected technology on the X-Class pickup in the immediate future, although elements of it might well make it to the truck in years to come.
The good news is that you don’t need to go out and buy a brand new Sprinter if you want to up your connectivity courtesy of Mercedes.
An adaptor can be retro fitted to the previous generation of Sprinter (made from April 2006) and the last two versions of the Vito, made from November 2010 and October 2014. It is a small module that plugs into the on-board diagnostic (OBD) port in the van.
You don’t get the full raft of services, though, with just five available.