Why would Mercedes-Benz indulge in the frivolity of designing and building a golf cart?
Perhaps because the company is the Official Patron of "The Open Championship," which took place at the Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland this past weekend. Perhaps because many Mercedes-Benz customers are also golf aficionados. Or perhaps because it was just fun to do.
Whatever the reason, the company did indeed design and build the Mercedes-Benz Vision Golf Cart, which made its formal debut at The Open Championship.
Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz asked golf and automobile fans around the world to submit their ideas for a Mercedes-Benz golf cart of the future as part of an international competition.
A jury chaired by M-B design V.P., Gorden Wagener selected the best entries from those submissions and the winners were invited to be VIP guests at the Open Championship.
The most frequently mentioned ideas and requirements were incorporated into the design study, which was created by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in Carlsbad, California
The concept vehicle is electrically driven, powered by a battery kept charged by a solar module integrated into the roof. Manual charging, as for a conventional golf cart, is also possible.
The vehicle is controlled via a joystick mounted on the centre console, making it possible for either passenger to drive the golf cart.
Using touch screen monitors, virtually all aspects of the cart can be controlled without extra buttons. The centre console also incorporates a multimedia panel that includes a rotatable docking station for an iPad or iPhone and a USB interface.
Such functions as loudspeakers, air-conditioning system, a head-up display, a music system or communication with the clubhouse and other golf carts can all be controlled from that panel.
When the golf cart is stopped the head-up display integrated into the windshield can also be used to show the course layout, the current status of the game or weather information. A digital speedometer is located beneath the windscreen.
One common desire, irrespective of country or language, was the possibility of using a telephone so the cart features a Bluetooth system that allows telephone calls to be made via the loudspeaker system while on the move.
Business men and women also have the possibility to write e-mails and users can share their digital score cards or photos from the game directly on social media channels.
A so-called "fore button" can be used to quickly warn other players of a misplaced shot. Pressing this button sends a warning to all other golf carts within the danger zone so that they, too, can issue a warning signal.
The interior takes its cues from Mercedes-Benz cars, with heated and ventilated seats that can be adjusted electronically using Mercedes' typical controls on the side of the seat.
Lightweight doors, with a click-in function allows them to be quickly fitted if the weather turns sour, are an available option. A retractable lightning rod is included for added safety in case storm clouds start to gather.
In bright conditions the windscreen can be darkened at the touch of a button. It also features windshield wipers with rain sensors that activate as soon as it starts to rain.
Another common request from the international entrants in the competition was plenty of stowage space. So the Vision Golf Cart obliges with a range of stowage alternatives.
There is a trunk compartment beneath a built-in stowage area for two golf bags, as well as two instrument-panel compartments and a centre console designed to accommodate golf balls, scorecards and sun glasses.
There is a even small refrigerator beneath the centre consoleand cup-holders between the seats that will keep drinks hot or cold.
An illuminated vanity mirror was another request, from female participants in particular, and is located at eye-height for the drivers.
In addition to its use on the golf course, the golf cart is said to be suitable for use on normal roads with such vital features as headlamps, tail-lamps and turn signals. Its LED headlamps include a floodlight function.
While the Vision Golf Cart might be the ideal conveyance for many of Mercedes-Benz's well-heeled customers when they are on the links, it is only a design study – although the company qualifies that description with the phrase, "so far."