Vision EQ Fortwo Concept is the Pedal-Less Smart

Smart unveiled their latest concept today that takes the tiny-two seat platform and makes it into something extremely futuristic. The connected concept has a bus-like front display, ad-ready side glass doors, and a ride share service that sounds more like a dating app. And no steering wheel or pedals. 

The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo is the Smart extension of the Mercedes EQ brand. That's the brand being used for electric models from Mercedes-Benz. The concept is just 2.7 m long, with a wide two-seat bench, bubble-like glass doors, and a shape that shows that even the smallest brand with a tiny space to work with can have a distinctive design language.

It has big arches and tiny overhangs. The wheels are as close to the corners as possible, and they are almost protruding from the nose and tail. The doors pivot rearward from near the centre of the body, easing access and making it safer for cyclists, Smart says, since the doors protrude less than normal doors.

The Vision EQ is the first Daimler group concept to lose the wheel and pedals. Controls are through your smartphone or voice input. Smart calls that "hygienic." Not a word often used to describe a car.

Losing the controls means more room inside. The dash is a 24.0-inch screen with smaller side-displays. The smaller displays are used for welcome messages. There are more digital surfaces around the car including the full door glass and the front grille. That front grille can be used to give info to pedestrians, communicate with other cars, and give info to potential ride share occupants. The doors can act as mobile billboards if the car is unoccupied.

The Vision EQ is fully autonomous, although you already guessed that from the lack of steering wheel. Smart has set it up to be optimized for ride sharing, either hailing yourself the car or picking up someone along your way. That's where the strange dating app comes into play.

"Those who want can use the 1+1 sharing function to make contact with other interesting users. Possible passengers are suggested on the basis of their saved profiles and current travel plans, and can be accepted or rejected. When two passengers are on board, the large display in the interior shows shared interests such as concerts they have recently attended or sports that they play. The extra time gained as a result of travelling in an autonomous vehicle can be used to chat and interact."

So you can choose to swipe left or right on potential ride-share occupants - in a car with a two-person bench seat - based on their profiles. And then if you pick them up, the car mines your information to show you things you have in common. Your call if that's a great car-as-wingman, or just kinda creepy.

Either way, it's what Mercedes-Benz envisions for the future of Smart. And for connected cars and ride sharing as a whole.

Connected bubble 8/30/2017 5:50:21 PM