Due to a new directive, the Parktronic from Mercedes only works to a limited extent: in some models it can do less, in one series it only beeps.
For those who don't want to rely on their parking skills, clever engineers developed the parking assistant years ago. With its sensors at the edge of the road, it detects suitable parking spaces arranged transversely or longitudinally to the road and, if desired, steers the vehicle into it perfectly. Mercedes has also delivered many models with such a well-functioning active assistant - the Stuttgarters carry the technology under the name Parktronic in their option lists. Now some of these assistants can only beep less than they used to be.
Technology approved according to a draft guideline
The omission of the parking functions has nothing to do with the semiconductor crisis - rather, the dynamic development of systems for autonomous driving has overtaken the basic regulations for Mercedes parking technology. As those responsible at Mercedes informed auto motor und sport, the manufacturer has been installing the current parking assistant since 2017. The system is certified on the basis of a draft of the UN-ECE-R79 directive from September 2016. UN ECE stands for United Nations Economic Commission for Europe - the commission regulates, among other things, the type approvals for wheeled road vehicles recognized by the relevant contracting parties. The emphasis in the certification is on "draft" - the regulation had not yet been finally clarified. At the time, Mercedes evaluated the range of functions of its technology together with TÜV Rheinland – after which the TÜV approved the technology package. However, what did not come was the expected ratification of the UN-ECE directive.
Guidelines revision during delivery
The UN ECE R79 regulates the "Uniform conditions for the approval of vehicles with regard to the steering system". This also means automatic lane changes and an automatic emergency stop on the hard shoulder or at the edge of the road. Automatic lane changes were generally forbidden, but the individual governments of the EU countries could decide on exceptions to this ban - in Germany there was an exception. After incidents with the failure of Tesla's "Autopilot" assistance system package, the Federal Ministry of Transport moved away from this exception. Automatic parking along the roadway was also affected by the end of the exception. All of a sudden, the not yet ratified UN-ECE-R79 directive needed to be revised. With the new version of the guideline from April 2021, the parallel parking function of the active Parktronic could then be retained - albeit with the use of a new sensor set.
Many series affected
The Mercedes engineers emphasize that with the new version of the UN ECE R79, most of the Parktronic functions are retained. However, not in all series: The parallel parking function is lost in the models of the compact class (A and B class with all their derivatives) in the C-Class Cabriolet and Coupé as well as in the GLC, EQC, CLS, AMG GT, GLE and GLS . Customers of the G-Class are even harder hit: Only the Parktronic warning function remains there - the system generates a beep when the sensors detect an obstacle, that's all it can do.
For those affected, the manufacturer refers to individual regulations between dealers and customers.
Complete solution by mid-2022
Since mid-2020 Mercedes has been installing new sensor sets, which does not help existing vehicles - by mid-2022 these sets should be rolled out to almost all model series, which according to Mercedes would mean that the parallel parking function would be available again in almost all models.
Technical developments are also progressing faster and faster in the automotive industry. If accidents then happen due to the failure of this new technology, such as with partially automated driving with the Tesla autopilot assistance system package, the responsible authorities backtrack and formulate their approval guidelines more strictly. This is essential for the safety of all road users. For the manufacturers, however, this may result in the problem that the technology they install no longer corresponds to the then more conservative regulations.
This seems to have happened to Mercedes with its active parking assistant Parktronic. After a new regulation of the UN-ECE-R79 guideline, the Parktronic now loses the function for parking along the road in a number of model series. Drivers of the G-Class have to do without the active functions completely - there the scope of the Parktronic is limited to a warning function. Affected vehicle owners should find individual solutions together with their dealer. By mid-2022, the parking assistant with all its functions should be available again in almost all models.
In order to avoid such problems, in the future the car industry could be forced to design certain electronic vehicle components in such a way that they can later be easily replaced with more modern components.