German OEMs expand use of connected technologies on new models

Increased adoption of traffic jam assist and traffic sign assist systems



Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Mercedes-Benz C-Class

 The following report outlines feature availability on new models that were launched in Europe by Daimler, BMW, and VW in and after the fall of 2013. A number of new models have employed advanced driving assist systems and internet connection technologies through onboard devices or smartphones.

 The features that have been increasingly available include the traffic jam assist which maintains the preset distance from the preceding vehicle and keeps the vehicle in its lane in dense traffic, and the traffic sign assist that detects certain road signs and displays them on the onboard screen. As for the visibility equipment, the BMW i8 was the first model worldwide to offer the laser headlights.

Advanced equipment made available by Daimler, BMW, and VW on their new models launched in Europe in and after fall 2013

Driving stability
(including fuel efficiency)
Drive select M-Benz C-Class, BMW i3/2 Series Coupe/i8, MINI,
VW Passat, SEAT Leon X-Perience, Audi TT
Brake energy regeneration BMW 2 Series Coupe, VW Passat, Skoda Fabia, Audi TT
Visibility Laser headlights BMW i8
Collision safety Automatic post-collision
braking system
VW Passat, SEAT Leon X-Perience, Skoda Fabia
Surround view M-Benz C-Class, BMW i8, VW Passat
Traffic sign assist M-Benz C-Class, BMW i3/2 Series Coupe/i8, MINI,
VW Passat, Audi TT
Traffic jam assist BMW i3, VW Passat
Comfort/convenience Digital instrument cluster BMW i3/i8, VW Passat, Audi TT
Remote access via smartphone M-Benz C-Class, BMW i3/i8, VW Passat

(Note) Only the gasoline-fueled models are cited as the cars on which the brake energy regeneration is available (excluding electric vehicles and plug-in-hybrids).

Related Reports:
  New U.S. models increase adoption of features like rear view cameras (Aug. 2014)
  New Japanese models feature increased use of active safety systems (Jul. 2014)
  Features on new Hyundai/Kia models: Genesis uses multiple active safety systems (Mar. 2014)
  German OEMs roll-out advanced driving assistance systems (Nov. 2013)
  New European models' specifications: PSA, Renault, Fiat, GM, Ford and Volvo (Jan. 2014)

Daimler: C-Class adopts "Mercedes connect me" to offer new online services

 Daimler installed a number of collision safety features on the Mercedes-Benz GLA compact SUV and the C-Class compact sedan as standard equipment. These features include the driver's knee airbag and the Active bonnet which reduces the risk of injury of pedestrians in a collision. The C-Class also comes with the AirMATIC Agility Package that adjusts shock absorption of the suspension to suit the chosen driving mode, and the "Mercedes connect me" which offers a new range of online services.

 The new smart fortwo/forfour features the Crosswind Assist as standard equipment. When the system detects a strong crosswind, it carries out specific braking intervention to keep the vehicle in its lane. The new smart also employs the Comprehensive smartphone integration system to link the smartphone with the vehicle smoothly.

Daimler: main features on Mercedes-Benz and smart brand models released in Europe from December 2013 to the second half of 2014

"S" Standard on all grades, "A" Standard on some grades, "O" Optional
Model Mercedes-Benz smart
GLA C-Class fortwo/
Launch timing Dec. 2013 Feb. 2014 Nov. 2014
Driving stability
fuel efficiency)
Acceleration Skid Control S
Crosswind Assist S
Agility Select with a choice of driving modes
(1 in the Table below)
AirMATIC Agility Package (expected availability from Q1 2015) O
4MATIC Package with Downhill Speed Regulator O
ECO start/stop function S S
Visibility Intelligent Light System O O
Headlamp Assist - automatic headlamp activation S
Adaptive High-beam Assist O
LED daytime driving lights S
Automatically dimming driver's door mirror O A
Automatically dimming rear-view mirror O A
Rain-sensing windscreen wipers S S
Collision safety Pre-Safe anticipatory safety system O O
Dual-stage airbags for driver and front passenger S S
Side airbags for front seats/Windowbags S S
Airbags and sidebags for driver and front passenger S
Knee airbag for driver S S S
Pelvisbags for driver and front passenger S
Sidebags for outer rear seats O
Crash-responsive emergency lighting S
Adaptive brake lights S S
Adaptive Brake System with hold function S S
Active bonnet S S
Parktronic with Active Park Assist O A
360°camera system (expected availability from Q1 2015) O
Reversing camera S S
Distronic Plus O O
Cruise control with Speedtronic variable speed limiter O S
Attention assist S S
Blind Spot Assist/Lane-Keeping assist O O O
Active Lane Keeping Assist O
Traffic Sign Assist with Wrong-Way Alert (2 in the Table below) O
Collision Prevention Assist S
Collision Prevention Assist Plus (3 in the Table below) S
Forward collision warning O
Two-zone automatic climate control O S
Tunnel detection (4 in the Table below) O
Air-Balance Package (5 in the Table below) O
Front seats - heated O S A
Easy-Pack tailgate O
Head-up display O
Remote boot release S
Touchpad (6 in the Table below) S
COMAND Online system (infotainment system) O O
Mercedes connect me (7 in the Table below) AO
Emergency call system (eCall) S
Comprehensive smartphone integration S
Real-time navigation S

Source: Mercedes-Benz brand on-line catalogs (UK) of mid-October 2014
(Note) Availability of the features on the new smart fortwo/forfour is based on Daimler's press release on the new model dated July 16, 2014 as the new smart is not officially launched yet.


Daimler: major advanced features
Agility Select
 This system allows the driver to select a driving mode from five modes (Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+, and Individual) to adjust the engine and transmission responsiveness. If the vehicle features the AirMATIC Agility Package, the suspension can be also adjusted.
Traffic Sign Assist with Wrong-Way Alert
 The feature uses a camera on the inside of the windscreen to record road signs on the street. It then cross-references the data against the information in the navigation system and displays them in the instrument cluster and the navigation system's map view. The feature recognizes speed limits, no-overtaking zones, and no-entry signs and alerts the driver if the vehicle behaves against the signs.
Collision Prevention Assist Plus
 When the system detects a risk of collision with the preceding car and the driver fails to respond, it automatically applies the brakes to mitigate the impact at speeds of up to 200 km/h. The system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles at speeds of up to 50 km/h and is able to prevent rear-end collisions at speeds of up to 40 km/h.
Tunnel detection
 This system uses the map information from the navigation system and the GPS location data to detect a location of a tunnel. When the vehicle enters a tunnel, the system automatically closes the air recirculation flap, thereby starting the internal recirculation. After the vehicle leaves the tunnel, the system automatically re-opens the flap.
Air-Balance Package
 The feature purifies the air in the cabin by reducing and removing certain viruses, bacteria, and spores with oxygen ions. Additionally, a unique ionizing and filtering process helps to reduce sulfur dioxide, NOx, and aromatic hydrocarbon level in the vehicle. Four scents are available for diffusion in the cabin to provide individual atmosphere. The intensity and duration of the scent diffusion can be adjusted.
 The newly developed touchpad is located over the dial controller on the center console. As on a smartphone, the navigation, air conditioning, and audio systems can be operated by using finger gestures on the touchpad's control surface. It recognizes handwriting letters and numbers in any language. The user receives haptic feedback when operating the touchpad.
Mercedes connect me
 The Mercedes connect me is a new package of online services introduced in the summer of 2014. The basic services include the automatic emergency call system and the vehicle breakdown assist service which are offered through the onboard communication module. In the maintenance management service, which is included in the basic services, the vehicle detects maintenance needs and sends the necessary data to the service outlet for scheduling maintenance actions. The optional services comprise vehicle position finding, remote door locking and unlocking, remote programming of the auxiliary heater, and remote access of the fuel gauge through the application of the smartphone.



BMW: i3 and i8 introduce new connected services designed for BMW i

 BMW adopted various advanced features on the i3 electric vehicle and i8 plug-in hybrid. The i3 is equipped with the Traffic Jam Assist which maintains the preset distance to the car ahead and keeps the vehicle in its lane automatically. The i8 is the first production model in the world to offer the laser headlamps. Both models come standard with the BMW ConnectedDrive, an internet connection system which contains new functions specifically designed for the BMW i.

 The 2 Series compact coupe features the Brake Energy Regeneration and the Auto Start Stop function for enhancement of the fuel efficiency as standard equipment. Various driving assist systems including the road sign detection and the collision warning with braking function are also available.

 The new MINI is the first MINI brand model to offer the MINI Driving Modes system which allows the driver to select a driving mode from Mid, Sport and Green modes. The new MINI also features the MINI Connected that provides a number of online services through the smartphone.


BMW i3 BMW 2 Series Coupe
BMW i3 BMW 2 Series Coupe


BMW: main features on BMW and MINI brand models released in Europe from November 2013 to June 2014

"S" Standard on all grades, "A" Standard on some grades, "O" Optional
i3 2 Series
Launch timing Nov. 2013 Jan. 2014 Jun. 2014 Spring 2014
Driving stability
fuel efficiency)
Driving Experience/Performance Control
(Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Eco Pro)
Eco Pro mode/Eco Pro+ mode S S
MINI Driving Modes (Mid, Sport, Green)
(1 in the Table below)
Dynamic Damper Control O
eDrive mode S
Brake Energy Regeneration S
Auto Start Stop function S O
Visibility Rain sensor with automatic wiper and
headlight activation
Adaptive Headlights O
Adaptive LED Headlights O S O
Laser Headlights (2 in the Table below) O
High-beam Assistant O O O
Rear-view mirror, automatically dimming S S S O
Exterior mirrors - automatically dimming S O S O
Collision safety Airbags - driver and front passenger S S S
Side airbags - front/Head airbags - front and rear S S S
Battery safety cut-off S
Dynamic brake lights
(flashing function for emergency stop)
Park distance control - rear O S S O
Park distance control - front O S O
Reversing assist camera/Rear-view camera O O O O
Surround-view O
Park Assist O O O
Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function O
Adaptive Cruise Control O
Speed Limit Info (including Passing Info display)/
Road sign detection
Traffic Jam Assist (3 in the Table below) O
Collision/Pedestrian Warning with braking function O O O O
Lane Departure Warning O
Automatic air conditioning with two-zone control AO S O
Head-up display S O
Digital instrument cluster S S
Seat heating, front O O S O
Touch Controller O S O
BMW/MINI Emergency Call S S S O
BMW ConnectedDrive/MINI Connected
(Infotainment system) (4 in the Table below)
BMW ConnectedDrive for BMW i
(5 in the Table below)

Source: BMW/MINI brand on-line catalogs (UK) of mid-October 2014
(Note) Only the gasoline-fueled models are cited as the cars on which the brake energy regeneration or the auto start-stop function is available (excluding electric vehicles and plug-in-hybrids).


BMW: major advanced features
MINI Driving Modes
 This system allows the driver to select a favorite driving mode from Mid, Sport, and Green modes. Choice of the mode influences the characteristic curve of the accelerator and steering, as well as the shift times of the automatic transmission and the Dynamic Damper Control where these features are fitted. Selecting the Green mode on the model equipped with the automatic transmission enables coasting function. This function reduces fuel consumption with decoupled drivetrain when the driver takes his/her foot off the accelerator.
Laser Headlights
 The BMW i8 is the first production vehicle in the world to offer the laser headlamps, which had been developed with German lighting specialist Osram. The new technology consumes 30% less energy than LED lights, requires less installation space, and weighs less. The laser feature extends its beam range to up to 600 meters, doubling the illumination range of the LED headlamps. The camera-aided digital high-beam assistant helps to eliminate dazzling of oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead.
 A laser headlamp consists of laser diodes and a fluorescent substance. Several high-performance diodes emit a strongly bundled beam via special lenses onto a fluorescent phosphorus substance inside the headlamp. This substance transforms the beam into an exceptionally bright white light that is ten times more intensive than the conventional light sources. BMW plans to expand the use of the laser headlights on other BMW models in the future.
Traffic Jam Assist
 The system operates at speeds from 0 to 40 km/h and offers optimal support by automatically accelerating, braking and steering the vehicle in dense highway traffic. It uses a camera at the top of the windscreen and works in close coordination with the "Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go" (which is active at speeds from 0 to 140 km/h). The Traffic Jam Assist not only maintains a given distance to the preceding car but also keeps the vehicle precisely in its lane. It is active only when a pair of lane markings to identify the vehicle's lane can be detected and when the driver keeps his/her hands on the steering wheel (the driver should be ready to take over control if necessary).
BMW ConnectedDrive/ MINI Connected
 BMW ConnectedDrive: BMW's infotainment system provides real-time weather forecasts, news, and traffic information, destination searches, and emergency call services through internet connection via the SIM card. When the smartphone is connected to the vehicle, the system allows the driver to use applications and play songs stored in the smartphone through the onboard infotainment system.
 MINI Connected: MINI's infotainment system connects the internet to the vehicle by linking the smartphone, which has downloaded appropriate applications, with the vehicle. Online connection allows the use of social networks, the search of destinations, and the reception of newsfeeds and entertainment features such as music via smartphone.
BMW ConnectedDrive
for BMW i
 BMW ConnectedDrive offers the services specifically designed for the BMW i brand electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. These services focus on the areas of navigation and energy management.
 Range Assistant: This service assists the driver to create route plans and supports journeys already under way. If the destination selected on the navigation system is beyond the vehicle's range, the system suggests switching to ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ mode and calculates a more efficient route. If the driver needs to charge the battery on the way, a list of public charging stations in the area is displayed.
 Dynamic range display: This service supplies the driver with precise, up-to-date and reliable information on whether there is sufficient charge to reach the destination, and if so, how much power will remain at the end of the journey. The calculation process for this service is carried out on a BMW server and its result is sent and displayed on the onboard navigation system via the SIM card.
 Intermodal route guide: When creating mobility plans, this service provides not only pedestrian navigation but also local public transport connections for the route from a car park to the final destination. It is the world's first system, according to BMW.
 Remote app for BMW i: This application allows the driver to check the vehicle's current driving range and the battery energy level from the smartphone. If the vehicle is plugged into a public charging station or the BMW i Wall Box (a charging unit for private homes), the charging procedure can be controlled remotely by the smartphone. The vehicle's air conditioning and heating function for the battery to extend the driving range can also be activated remotely.



VW: Passat features numerous advanced driving assist systems

VW Passat
VW Passat

 VW installed a number of advanced driving assist systems on the Passat midsize sedan/station wagon. These systems include the Emergency Assist which automatically stops the vehicle when the driver is not capable of driving due to sudden sickness, the Traffic Jam Assist that maintains the preset distance from the preceding vehicle and keeps the vehicle in its lane during the dense traffic, and the Trailer Assist that helps the driver in reverse parking when the vehicle tows a trailer. The Passat also comes with the Car-Net, VW's new telematics system.

 SEAT's Leon X-Perience small crossover adopted the Easy Connect infotainment system which is operated by the touchscreen. Skoda's Fabia small hatchback is the first Skoda brand model to employ MirrorLink, a device interoperability standard that offers integration between a smartphone and a vehicle's infotainment system.

VW: main features on VW/SEAT/Skoda brand models released in Europe from June to November 2014

"S" Standard on all grades, "A" Standard on some grades, "O" Optional
Model VW Passat SEAT Leon
Skoda Fabia
station wagon
Launch timing Oct. 2014 Jun. 2014 Nov. 2014
Driving stability
fuel efficiency)
Dynamic Chassis Control (Normal, Comfort, Sport) A
Driver profile selection (Eco, Sport, Normal, Individual) A
Electronic differential lock system S S
4Drive System S
Battery regeneration S S
Start/stop function S S
Visibility High beam assist O O
LED headlights with automatic range adjustment/
with dynamic light assist
LED headlights with projection technology AO
LED daylight running lights AO A
Dusk sensor, automatic driving lights/light sensor A AO
Rain sensor A AO O
Automatic dimming driver's door mirror A
Automatic dimming interior rear-view mirror A AO A
Collision safety Driver's and front passenger's airbags S S S
Front side airbags S S S
Curtain airbags S S S
Driver's knee airbag S S
Rear side impact airbags, outer S O
Automatic hazard light activation O
Automatic Post-Collision Braking System/
Multicollision Brake
Pre-crash preventive occupant protection AO
Parking sensors - front and rear AO O O
Parking sensor - rear S
Park assist O
Rear view camera O
Area view (1 in the Table below) O
Driver alert/Tiredness recognition/
Fatigue detection system
Lane Assist O O
Side scan O
Adaptive cruise control A O
Front Assist O O A
City Emergency Braking O O
Pedestrian Monitoring O
Emergency Assist (2 in the Table below) O
Traffic Jam Assist (3 in the Table below) O
Trailer Assist (4 in the Table below) O
Traffic Sign Display with speed limits and
no overtaking zones
3 zone electronic climate control A
Heated front seats A O
Heated steering wheel A
Head-up display O
Active Info Display (fully digital instrument cluster) AO
Discover Navigation Pro/radio system O
Car-Net (5 in the Table below) O
Easy Connect system (6 in the Table below) AO
Bolero infotainment system - MirrorLink
(7 in the Table below)
SmartGate (8 in the Table below) O

Source: VW/SEAT/Skoda brand on-line catalogs (UK) of mid-October 2014


VW: major advanced features
Area view
 This system obtains images taken by four cameras in the front, rear and both sides of the vehicle and integrates them into a bird's-eye view on the onboard display. The system makes it easier to maneuver in difficult driving situations.
Emergency Assist
 The system combines the functions of the Lane Assist and the Adaptive Cruise Control to automatically stop the vehicle in emergency. If the driver becomes unable to drive (steer, accelerate, or brake) due to sudden illness, the system which detects an unusual state alerts the driver where possible and takes over driving automatically. It applies the brakes while keeping the vehicle in its lane, activates the hazard lamps, and stops the vehicle safely to minimize the risk of a collision. It is the world's first system, according to VW.
Traffic Jam Assist
 This system combines the functions of the Lane Assist and the Adaptive Cruise Control to make driving during stop-and-go traffic more relaxed. It is activated on motorways at speeds of up to 60 km/h when the onboard camera can detect the markings on both sides of the lane. The system maintains the preset distance to the preceding car and keeps the vehicle in its lane. It functions only when the driver keeps his/her hands on the steering wheel (to take over control when needed). If the driver's hands are off the steering wheel, the system issues a warning.
Trailer Assist
 The system assists the driver in reverse parking when the vehicle is towing a trailer. After the driver puts the vehicle in reverse and sets the angle of turning and direction of travel, the system automatically steers the vehicle into the parking space. All the driver needs to do is to accelerate and brake. It is the world's first system for the passenger cars, according to VW.
 This is the new telematics system that VW started installing in the 2014 models. Combined with the optional Discover Navigation Pro system, the Car-Net connects the vehicle to the internet and offers various online services.
 In "Safe and Secure" area, the automatic emergency call system and the stolen vehicle tracking service are provided. In "Family Guardian," if the owner's child uses the vehicle and the vehicle exceeds the preset speed limit or traveling area, the system notifies the owner's smartphone of the state of the vehicle. In "Remote Vehicle Access," the system enables remote door unlocking by the smartphone, sending the destination to the onboard navigation system, and finding the last parked location. In "Diagnostics and Maintenance," the system checks the state of the vehicle and adjusts the maintenance schedule with the service center.
Easy Connect system
 This is SEAT's infotainment system. The sound system, navigation system, and selection of driving mode can be accessed by operation on the touchscreen.
Bolero infotainment system - MirrorLink
 The MirrorLink (a device interoperability standard for linking a smartphone and an onboard infotainment system) installed in the Bolero infotainment system enables smooth connection between the smartphone and the vehicle. The Fabia is the first Skoda brand model to use the MirrorLink. After plugging a USB cable into the smartphone and the Bolero system and activating the MirrorLink, the songs stored in the smartphone and the MirrorLink-certified applications (such as navigation) can be controlled and used on the onboard display.
 The SmartGate enables the access from the smartphone to the vehicle information. After the appropriate application is installed in the smartphone, the vehicle information including fuel consumption and average speed can be downloaded through WiFi and driving efficiency and cost can be analyzed.

 Audi's TT compact sports coupe comes standard with the Audi DriveSelect that enables selection of a driving mode as well as the start-stop and energy recuperation systems, both of which improve fuel efficiency. The compact sports coupe is also equipped with the Audi Virtual Cockpit which is a full-digital instrument cluster. In addition, the TT adopted the Audi Phone Box that connects the smartphone to the vehicle smoothly and the Audi connect which offers high-speed LTE internet connectivity.


Audi TT Audi Virtual Cockpit
Audi TT Audi Virtual Cockpit


VW: main features on Audi model released in Europe in March 2014

"S" Standard on all grades, "A" Standard on some grades, "O" Optional
Model Audi TT
sports coupe
Launch timing Mar. 2014
Driving stability
fuel efficiency)
Audi Drive Select (Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency, Individual) S
Progressive steering S
quattro (permanent all-wheel drive) A
Start-stop system with energy recuperation S
Visibility Xenon headlights with automatic headlight range control S
LED headlights AO
Matrix LED headlights O
High Beam Assist O
LED daytime running lights S
Auto-dimming rear-view mirror O
Auto-dimming driver's door mirror O
Light and rain sensors A
Collision safety Front airbags S
front side airbags S
Audi Parking System, rear O
Audi Parking System plus, front and rear O
Park assist O
Audi side assist O
Audi lane assist A
Audi active lane assist O
Speed limit display O
Automatic Air Conditioning with integrated digital displays (1 in the Table below) O
Audi Virtual Cockpit (2 in the Table below) S
Audi Phone Box (3 in the Table below) O
MMI Navigation Plus O
MMI control panel with MMI touch S
Audi connect (4 in the Table below) O

Source: Audi brand on-line catalog (UK) of mid-October 2014


Audi: major advanced features
Automatic Air Conditioning with integrated digital displays
 The turbine-like round air vents of the air conditioning have dial controllers located on the axes of the vents. The air conditioning system is controlled by turning and clicking the dial. A digital display is integrated on the surface of the dial to indicate the setting status. With this dial, various functions including seat heating, temperature, air direction, and blower speed can be operated, thereby contributing to a clutter-free look on the dashboard.
Audi Virtual Cockpit
 This fully digital instrument cluster provides a 12.3-inch TFT screen in front of the driver. It allows the driver to choose between two display modes: in the classic view, the speedometer and rev counter are in the foreground in a conventional style; in the infotainment mode, the virtual instruments are smaller with the space for other functions such as the navigation map. The virtual cockpit can be controlled using the multi-function steering wheel, the voice-control technology, or the MMI touch panel which enables the driver to enter letters and digits with his/her fingers.
Audi Phone Box
 The Audi Phone Box located in the center armrest has an integrated universal planar antenna. Thanks to close-range coupling, the smartphone communicates with the planar antenna, which uses an amplifier to transmit the signals to the vehicle antenna. This smoothly links a smartphone to the vehicle only by placing the phone in the box without connecting them with a USB cable.
Audi connect
 In coordination with the optional multimedia interface, MMI Navigation Plus, the Audi connect telematics system enables internet access in the vehicle using high-speed LTE transmission standard. Information, entertainment and Google Earth navigation maps can be accessed by operation on the touch screen or voice commands. In addition, with a wireless hotspot within the vehicle, passengers can use their mobile devices to access the internet.

<Automotive Industry Portal MarkLines>