Mercedes-Benz customers now have a new way to pay their monthly financing bills: by using the vehicle’s in-dash display — but only if that bill includes a subscription to the automaker’s latest mbrace2 technology package and its extra–cost Mercedes–Benz Apps feature.
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA — the company that finances most Mercedes-Benz loans and leases — has officially launched My MBFS, an in–vehicle account management app that lets the user make a payment, get account information, and receive a payoff quote, directly from the dashboard display.
The My MBFS in–dash app was automatically added this week to the menu of apps available in all compatibly equipped vehicles, thanks to mbrace2‘s built–in Internet connectivity, which allows Apps feature updates to be downloaded to the vehicle without any user intervention, noted Michael Kanzleiter, senior marketing manager at Mercedes–Benz Financial Services in Farmington Hills, Mich.
“As a result of this launch, we are now the first auto finance company offering customers account management through an in–vehicle app,” Kanzleiter said.
But this is only the latest “first” in the tech arena for Mercedes–Benz Financial Services, Kanzleiter noted. In late 2009, the company was the first in its industry to introduce an iPhone app (also named My MBFS), which offered the same account management capabilities as well as shopping tools such as a payment calculator and a dealer locator.
Then, in early 2010 the company expanded its tech reach by launching a new “mobile website,” Kanzleiter said. It was a version of the MBFS website tailored for the Web browsers found in any brand of smartphone or tablet.
Together, the iPhone app and the mobile website have been very successful in moving customers to online account management, he added. From 2009 to now, between 40 and 45 percent of MBFS customers have managed their accounts online, and 20 percent of those customers did so with either the My MBFS iPhone app or the mobile website. So, overall, almost 10 percent of MBFS customers are managing their accounts with mobile devices, Kanzleiter said.
“When we started in 2009, we didn’t expect that to be such a high number, and we still [expect] an increase,” he asserted. “With that, we figured it’s a great opportunity for us to bring this functionality also in the vehicle, as another channel.” My MBFS in the dashboard is “the last step of our journey of account management,” he said.
Besides My MBFS, the Mercedes–Benz Apps feature includes in–dash Google, Yelp and Facebook apps. All of the apps available in the vehicle are hosted in a cloud server belonging to the automaker, and are always kept up–to–date by Mercedes–Benz. By comparison, similar in–car app connectivity systems from other automakers rely on apps stored on the user’s smartphone, which the user must keep current.
A subscription to mbrace2 costs $280 per year, and the Mercedes-Benz Apps feature costs another $34 per month. Both prices are effective after a six–month free trial period. These technologies are available now in all model–year 2013 and newer Mercedes–Benz models except the 2013 S-Class, which is set to be replaced by an all–new 2014 S–Class later this year.
In keeping with its flagship status, the 2014 S-Class will be available with the most advanced technologies Mercedes–Benz has to offer — mbrace2, Mercedes-Benz Apps and much more.