This is at once just one more straightforward comms stunt – and the initial fumblings of a large & well established industry facing a major turning point.
Mercedes wanted to make very clear the fact that their F-Cell hydrogen-powered car produces absolutely no emissions (apart from, as with all fuel cell cars, a little bit of lukewarm water which is entirely drinkable. Geek over & out).
So they took this very literally and made the car invisible – covering one side of the car in LEDs, and using a Canon 5D camera on the other to constantly transmit the background. For some reason, they couldn’t do the bit around the wheels very well, but otherwise it’s quite impressive.
The reason this is particularly interesting is that fuel cell cars mean a huge sea change in car design – no more engine at the front, no more transmission in the middle, no more fuel tank. All major car brands are currently trying to decide how far from the current layout they can go and not make their customers feel too uncomfortable. We are the legacy part.
So stuff like this also presages a period of transition for all cars – how they work & how they look, but also how we come to desire them when they don’t make any sound, look like anything we’ve seen before or send out well-understood messages to our peers.