Most visions of the near future see more and more people driven to major cities from increasingly deserted rural areas. Daimler futurologist Alexander Mankowsky sees the opposite, and he believes vans will have a key part to play. His thesis: people will gradually turn their backs on crowded cities and move back to the countryside, where families can appreciate the peace and quiet and where housing is much more affordable.
"We can already see the roots of all this, development is already underway,” he says. In fact, Mercedes-Benz Vans is driving such innovations. Thanks to Vans & Drones, an exciting project developed with Californian company Matternet, the Vito is the first ever production vehicle to be designed as a mobile receiving station and landing site for drones.
In partnership with Starship Technologies, Mercedes-Benz Vans are also revolutionising distribution and delivery. Vans & Robots sees Sprinter Vans transporting robots designed to carry parcels individually to customers.
However, in the society predicted by Mankowsky, vans are more than mere transport solutions. "Vans are the hidden champion in all this," he explains. "You can do so many things in them: you can produce stuff, you can have your own workshop. In the future, people will simply be able to meet in these workshops without having to be in a densely populated city – it is a very flexible system."
Watch Christopher Wallenreiter's one-on-one with Alexander Mankowsky below.