With the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept, the range comes first
Since its introduction, the Mercedes EQ sub-brand has focused on maintaining the Mercedes tradition and at the same time researching new, progressive concepts. It is the philosophy that spawned the EQS, a revolution of what a massive luxury sedan can be. Next, Mercedes hopes to be able to greatly increase the electric range. That mission begins with the Vision EQXX concept, a car that Mercedes claims can travel 621 miles on a single charge.
While range is the headline, Mercedes EQ claims that the Vision EQXX’s real strength lies in its efficiency. The 621-mile range of the car with a 100 kWh battery is more than 6 miles per kWh, blasting industry-leading benchmarks such as Porsche’s Taycan and Tesla’s Model S out of the water. It is the result of efficiency-optimizing innovations across the board, starting with a new proprietary drivetrain that delivers 95% of the power from the battery to the wheels.
The battery pack itself has roughly the same capacity as the one used in the EQS, but reaches the figure with 50% less volume and 30% less weight. Add to this extensive weight savings, tires that optimize low rolling resistance, and an aggressive aerodynamic design that creates a drag coefficient of 0.17, and Mercedes EQ seems to have what it takes to be the most efficient electric car ever developed.
This drag coefficient is worth repeating. With a coefficient of 0.20, the production EQS is the slipperiest car on the road today, a record it is hardly removed from the current generation of the Model S. Thanks to an aggressive, kammback-like design, the EQXX easily surpasses this number with 0.17. It also crushes the only production car in modern history in this category that is entirely geared towards efficiency. Volkswagen’s XL1, a radical hybrid that emerged from a similar concept in the early 2010s, held the previous record with a claimed drag coefficient of 0.189. If car records are not enough, Mercedes adds that the EQXX beats a person (0.8 to 1.2), a cyclist (0.6 to 0.8) and an American football (0.18 to 0.2) but the car has to go its way until it can beat a penguin aerodynamic efficiency (0.05).
The XL1 could also be the best lens for understanding the EQXX. Back then it was Volkswagen’s interpretation of the future of efficiency. That dream of a diesel production hybrid built for fuel economy has been ignored in favor of a world of high performance battery EVs that relied on the size of their battery packs, the fast torque delivery of their multiple engines, and the manufacturer’s ability to charge them quickly. The EQXX hopes to tip the scales back towards efficiency and offers all the standards of the modern electric car with the world’s best energy consumption rates that the XL1 promised to a completely different market.
In terms of design, the Concept EQXX seems to be somewhere between a Tatra T87 and a Mercedes Group C Racer built by Sauber. The car’s uncompromising efficiency takes some tradeoffs, including an elongated comb-cheek shape that would make an amateur hypermiler the jealousy, but from the outside it can still be seen as a modern four-door sedan, with curved fenders, and the last of what was rounded off once a “three-box” design.
The interior is less well known, but fits into the existing EQ concept. The hyperscreen, a dominant optional feature in the stock EQS, is being replaced with a dashboard, which is simply a large, one-piece screen that extends the length of the car. Massive, centrally located vents are still below the screen, but that signature Mercedes element abandons its traditional multi-pronged shape and gives up a translucent row of louvers that the vents somewhere between a wind tunnel and one dune Sandworm. The rest of the cabin is made from a collection of sustainable materials (the Concept EQXX features both cactus and mushroom-based leather) and uniquely designed bucket seats.
Weight savings from these materials contribute to a final weight of 3,850 pounds, nearly 2,000 pounds lighter than the heaviest examples of the EQS. The number might not seem impressive in the context of traditional internal combustion engines, but it’s significant for an all-electric sedan of this size with so much battery capacity.
Since lightness, drive efficiency, aerodynamic efficiency and rolling resistance have important priorities, Mercedes says that the electrical efficiency of the Vision EQXX translates into energy consumption of 235 MPG in a gasoline-powered car. That would be a “1 liter car”, a car that could run 100 kilometers on 1 liter of gasoline and meet the original goal for which the Volkswagen XL1 was built so many years ago. This car entered limited production four years after its first concept debuted. The future of the EQXX is less clear.
For now, the Vision EQXX is a preview of the heights that the Mercedes EQ efficiency team can achieve. Mercedes claims that the ideas learned from the concept have already flowed into the next generation of modular architecture for compact and mid-range cars. Last but not least, this makes it an elegant development mule for the efficiency technologies that will play a role in the future of the C-Class.
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