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The bow wave of innovation.

Interview with Susanne Hahn, Head of Daimler Business Innovation.

What is the role of Daimler Business Innovation?

Daimler Business Innovation is Daimler AG’s innovative Think & Act Tank. Here, we don’t just think about future business models outside of our core business, we also realise them in practical terms. The carsharing service car2go or the Mercedes-Benz energy-storage for instance have been initiated by Business Innovation. We have been working closely with startups and cross-industry partners for nearly 10 years now. But fundamentally, we are strongly connected to the culture of innovation begun by Gottlieb Daimler. We rise to the challenges of the present and future in everything we do.

What culture is lived at Daimler Business Innovation?

The basis for what we do is an open-minded and innovative culture. It is an essential component of our cross-divisional, internationally staffed team. The colleagues here contribute valuable experience gathered in a wide range of different disciplines and areas. This puts us in a position that allows us to develop and evaluate ideas from a variety of different viewpoints. Otherwise, our team could be seen in some respects as a miniature version of the Daimler concern. We are very flexible and realize our projects very fast. In a nutshell, you could say that we are the ‘speedboat’ of the concern.

How many ideas are actually realised?

At most, only one idea in twenty ever gets that far. We first test out our ideas in pilot projects. Things can, of course, sometimes go wrong, e.g. when market maturity has not yet been achieved. Innovation is only possible with this positive attitude to errors and failures. This is how ideas for the future are born. We see failure as an essential element of our learning and innovation processes.

What is the role of Daimler Business Innovation in the Golf Car project?

Daimler Business Innovation acts as central interface. We developed the entire business model for the Golf Car and worked hand-in-hand with the design team from ‘Mercedes-Benz Style’ and our experienced partner Garia to realize this project.

Speaking of innovation, how important is digitalisation in the case of the Golf Car?

The Golf Car is fully digitalised. We didn’t stop at integrating the touch panel in the middle that controls all the car’s functions and features. We carried on and also developed a fully-digital marketing model. Just three clicks let you experience the car in virtual reality –from no matter where you happen to be – and then order it in the next pilot phase we have in planning.

What’s makes the Golf Car so different from other golf carts?

The key differences are its progressive design vocabulary, the utilisation of premium materials in its construction, the typical contemporary luxury of a Mercedes-Benz and state-of-the-art technology. You can feel the passion that went into it.