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Tokyo LIVE: Mercedes' autonomous Vision Tokyo concept

The Vision Tokyo concept is powered by a hydrogen-electric drivetrain.

Mercedes-Benz has made a surprise appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show to introduce a new concept dubbed Vision Tokyo.

The concept takes the form of a tall, sleek-looking van that's capable of driving itself. Slightly smaller in all directions than the 2016 Metris van, it boasts thin headlights and a huge grille that lights up to display a wide variety of colors and patterns. Its design language is influenced by the F 015 Luxury in Motion concept that was shown earlier this year at the CES show.

The cabin is accessed via a wide, top-hinged door on the passenger side of the car. Inside, the Vision Tokyo offers space for five passengers on a lounge-like oval couch upholstered in white leather. The infotainment system is displayed on holograms, while screens built into the side panels display important information about the van and its surroundings.

The rear windows are screen printed to ensure the occupants travel in total privacy. The concept drives autonomously a vast majority of the time, but a jump seat built into the couch lets the passengers take the wheel if needed.

Power comes from an advanced hybrid drivetrain that uses a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity. Full technical details are being kept under wraps, but Mercedes promises the concept offers a total driving range of over 600 miles.

Although Mercedes' Vision Tokyo concept is highly unlikely to reach production as-is, it likely serves as a preview of the autonomous technology that will debut on the next-gen E-Class next January. Similarly, the hydrogen-electric drivetrain could make the jump from concept to production in the medium-term future.

Live images by Ben Hsu.

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