Mercedes has been looking into the future lately, sharing its "crystal ball" visions with the world. In addition to forward thinking production vehicles like the SLS AMG E-Drive, it has gone even deeper into the future, providing a look at what off-road utility vehicles might look like in a decade, for instance. Now, it's gone a little smaller, giving its vision of the golf cart that might be buzzing around local country clubs in a generation or two.
The Mercedes-Benz Vision Golf Cart concept is the fruit of an international competition that asked hundreds of golf and auto fans to submit ideas for a futuristic golf cart. The Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in Carlsbad, California then took the most popular ideas and requirements and incorporated them along with elements from Mercedes' production vehicles. Mercedes showed the resulting design study at the 2013 Open Championship in Scotland this past weekend, where the competition winners enjoyed VIP access.
"I was very inspired by the idea of designing a golf cart, giving it a new shape and new sorts of meaning," says Gorden Wagener, Vice President Design Daimler AG. "Why not treating a golf cart like a car, and making it a 'Golf Car'."
The Vision Golf Cart includes many features that would certainly make it a quick favorite among golfers should it ever move past design study stage. Mercedes answered the widespread call for stowage space heard throughout its competition, equipping the cart with a split rear compartment for two golf bags, two dashboard storage compartments, a center console storage area for golf balls, scorecards and sunglasses, and a lower rear storage trunk.
Other features that golfers are certain to appreciate include a small refrigerator, heated/cooled cup holders, a floodlight function on the LED headlamps for night play, and an illuminated vanity mirror. A "fore button" also notifies other course users of a misplaced shot.
The electric hub motor-driven Vision utilizes an element often overabundant on the links – sunlight – for recharging. In addition to the roof-mounted solar panel, the golf cart design includes a port for manual charging.
Inside, the driver is surrounded by a level of technology that might be par for the course on a luxury vehicle but definitely surpasses the average golf cart. The rotating iPhone/iPad multimedia dock allows for touchscreen control of many of the cart's functions, keeping physical buttons and dials to a minimum. That minimum includes a center console-mounted joystick that allows either of the two occupants to drive and steer the cart.
Thanks to the connectivity powered by the iPhone/iPad dock, cart occupants can send emails, place food and beverage orders with the country club, view weather information, and share their scores, photos and other game info via social media. The cart also includes Bluetooth connectivity for making calls over the loudspeaker system. When the cart is parked, the head-up display can be used to view course layout, game information and weather.
The Vision cart includes a good amount of luxury inspired by Mercedes' production line. The ergonomic seats have heating, ventilation and electronic adjustment. The Mercedes Airscarf heating system, used in Mercedes cars like the SLK Roadster, routes heating to neck and shoulder level, allowing driver and passenger to enjoy the open-air experience even in cooler weather.
For days that are too cold or inclement, a pair of snap-in doors creates a full enclosure. A retractable lightning rod adds some safety, while automatic windshield wipers start when the rain does. During warmer and brighter weather, occupants enjoy air conditioning and push-button window tinting.
Mercedes does not appear to have plans to make the Vision Golf Cart reality anytime soon, but maybe there's a chance it will be ready by the time I'm ready to retire and spend more time on the course.