For the past couple of years, Mercedes-Benz has been hard at work in an attempt to revolutionize the golf cart. At the 2013 Open Championship in Scotland, the renowned automobile manufacturer held an international competition in which hundreds of golf and automobile enthusiasts submitted ideas and plans for a futuristic golf cart.
Using these ideas, Mercedes-Benz then went about the task of designing a visionary golf cart that would meet the needs of today’s golfers and those who want a low-speed vehicle (LSV) for neighborhood transportation.
When Mercedes-Benz called for golf and automobile fans to submit their ideas for a golf cart of the future, it was much more than simply a competition. The company was thinking outside the box by crowdsourcing plans from hundreds of people around the world who were happy to share their knowledge and desires concerning what they believe golf carts should be.
The people entering the competition were extremely enthusiastic, and they came in from around the world to present their plans. Contestants from North America, South America, Germany, South Africa and Japan all submitted their ideas.
The design department at Mercedes-Benz waded through the plans to discover some unique, innovative and practical concepts that they could make a reality. Gorden Wagener, vice president of design for Daimler AG, chaired the official jury for the competition, and the top submissions were awarded exclusive VIP passes to the Open Championship. However, the company did not use the complete plans of each winner. Instead, the ideas and requirements that were mentioned most frequently were passed on to the design team.
The designers at Mercedes-Benz expanded on the ideas and concepts of the competition winners, and they added their own forward-thinking design strategies, which have become synonymous with the company’s prestigious brand. The concept for the futuristic vehicle was completed in Carlsbad, California, where the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center is located.
The design developed by the team is a combination of elements from the manufacturer’s latest automobiles in a package that provides the functionality required for a golf cart. The final touch was to incorporate the diamond grille to give the vehicle an appearance that cannot be mistaken for anything other than a product of Mercedes-Benz.
“The Mercedes-Benz Vision Golf Cart has a refined, simplified yet functional shape that fits well into our Sensual Purity design philosophy. The flow-shapes create a sculpture-on-wheels impression”, said Wagener. “I was very inspired by the idea of designing a golf cart, giving it a new shape and new sorts of meanings. Why not treat a golf cart like a car, making it a golf car?”
Features of the Mercedes-Benz Vision
The Mercedes-Benz Vision incorporates all of the latest technological advances for consumer vehicles and a few that are unavailable anywhere else. For starters, the golf cart is completely electric. The batteries may be charged manually, but for most people, the solar panels that continually charge them during daylight hours are quite adequate. Another innovative feature is the joystick controller mounted on the center console, which allows the electric golf cart to be driven by anyone in the front seats.
Margarete Wies, head of the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center, says that the Vision was designed with simplicity, intuition, and form in mind, but in truth, this golf cart is anything but simple.
In addition to housing the joystick controller, the center console includes a docking station and USB ports for connecting mobile phones and tablet computers. It is also where many of the various controls can found for features of the cart, including the air conditioning, external loudspeakers, stereo system and communications equipment, which can connect to mobile phones via Bluetooth.
One other control on the center console is for the heads-up display, which is integrated into the windshield. For safety purposes, the display can only be activated when the golf cart is stationary, but it can provide a wealth of information, including updates on the weather and a layout of the golf course.
An issue that was repeatedly mentioned by contestants was Internet and mobile network connectivity. This feature was made possible by the Vision designers through the interface for iPhones and iPads. These devices can be used to communicate with the clubhouse or other course services. In addition to being able to use this system to order food and drinks, ask questions and write emails, it also allows players to share information between each other, such as photos and digital scorecards.
The Vision also has a safety feature that can be very useful on golf courses, and it is known as the Fore Button. Pushing this button sounds an alarm to warn other golfers of shots that have gone astray. In some cases, the warning can prompt similar golf carts in the danger zone to sound warning signals of their own.
Elegant, Futuristic Design
The interior of the Vision golf cart is decidedly that of the most sophisticated Mercedes-Benz automobile. In addition to its elegance and futuristic style, it is designed with advanced ergonomics. The seats are fitted perfectly for the human body, and they include ventilation to keep you cool and heating elements to maintain warmth. The seats are also fully adjustable with electronic controls at the sides, much like standard cars.
The state-of-the-art heating system uses the AIRSCARF heating technology that was introduced in the 2011 SLK Roadster, which creates a heated zone around the neck and shoulders that allows passengers to remain comfortable in cold weather even while the doors are open. An integrated air-conditioning system has also been installed for hot and muggy weather.
The doors on this electric golf cart are completely optional, but they are designed to be lightweight and easy to operate. In fact, the doors can be removed and attached quite simply through a special click-in component. When the weather is windy, cold, rainy or otherwise uncooperative, all you have to do is quickly attach the doors before your game. Another feature related to bad weather is a built-in, retractable lightning rod to keep all passengers safe during unexpected thunderstorms.
In addition to housing the heads-up display, the windshield also has an electronic tint function for particularly bright days, and the windshield wipers are automatically activated by sensors that detect the presence of rain. For times when the rain cannot be avoided, space is provided just behind the seats specifically for the storage of umbrellas.
Another element that participants in the competition wanted to see was adequate storage space, and the Mercedes-Benz design team was happy to accommodate. The Vision electric golf cart includes space for two golf bags, and underneath this is a trunk to keep additional equipment secure yet out of the way.
Two other storage compartments are built into the dashboard, and the center console is designed to hold sunglasses, golf balls, and scorecards. Underneath the center console is a small refrigerator, and electronic cup holders on both sides keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold. A final touch of elegance for the interior is the lighted vanity mirror, which is located at eye level to accommodate the driver.
The Vision is the perfect vehicle for golf courses, but it can also be driven on standard roads. The golf cart is equipped with headlights, taillights, turn signals and a horn to make it a street-legal LSV, and the LED headlights also double as floodlights for nighttime recreation.
So far, the Mercedes-Benz Vision has not yet made it out of the design phase, but thanks to the enthusiasm of golfers and golf-cart fans, it may become a reality within the next few years.