Mercedes’ sleek, electric Vision EQXX concept claims 620-mile range

Posted by Talbot Payne on January 5, 2022

Mercedes kicked off the new year Monday with its Vision EQXX concept, a long-range electric halo vehicle for the German brand.

The aerodynamic EQXX packs a similar-size battery as Mercedes’ current, full-size production EQS sedan into a compact chassis about the size of the entry-level, gas-powered Mercedes CLA Class. Introduced ahead of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, EQXX is also stuffed with a full-dash infotainment screen and virtuous, sustainable materials prized by green customers.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX claims 620 miles of range and 201 horsepower.

Mercedes announced that, when the concept hits the road this spring, it will be capable of 620 miles of range — a trip from Detroit to New York City. That figure rivals that of gas-electric hybrids like the 633-mile-range Toyota Prius, though it comes up short of diesel-powered marathoners like the 1,000-mile-range Ram 1500 pickup.

The Merc follows in the footsteps of other European moon shots like the 2002 Volkswagen 1-Liter concept, a similarly sleek, cigar-shaped, diesel-powered creation that achieved the European benchmark of using just one liter of petrol to travel 100 kilometers — the equivalent of 237 mpg.

For the EV Age, Mercedes says its concept will hit a new efficiency target of less than 10 kWh consumed per 100 kilometers traveled (6 miles per kWh).

The VW diesel appeared at a time when Middle East conflict dominated headlines and Europe was determined to free itself of Mideast oil by encouraging the adoption of efficient, diesel-powered autos. Diesels have since fallen out of favor with governments. EVs are the new political fashion and EQXX claims the moral high ground as governments force non-fossil fuel vehicles.

“The Mercedes-Benz EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars,” said Mercedes Chairman Ola Källenius. “The EQXX is an advanced car in so many dimensions — and it even looks stunning and futuristic. With that, it underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.”

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX features a 0.17 drag coefficient, courtesy of a sleek profile, low frontal area, and rear track 2 inches narrower than the front.

The EQXX achieves its efficiency goals with a low frontal area and a long, race car-like tail. The Merc boasts a drag co-efficient of just 0.17 — lower than state-of-the-art production cars like Lucid Air’s 0.20 and Tesla Model S Plaid’s 0.208. The low drag co-efficient is achieved with a smaller frontal area than the entry-level, Mercedes CLA-class and a rear track width 2 inches less than at the front.

The concept’s range numbers are better than the brand’s current, $103,360 EQS production EV halo, which gets 350 miles of range. In packing a similar 100 kWh battery into a compact-class chassis, EQXX claims 95% driveline efficiency compared with 75% for the EQS. Drawing on its experience in Formula One and Formula E racing — both of which utilize battery technology — the Vision concept claims 50% less volume and 30% less weight than the EQS battery.

The lightweight battery means the Mercedes tips the scale at 3,858 pounds — or about the same girth as a Tesla Model 3 that has nearly half the range. A solar roof on EQXX delivers another 16 miles of potential mileage.

“Driven by the idea of zero impact on our planet and a highly responsible use of green energy, we encouraged our engineers to go above and beyond,” reads the EQXX news release. “The VISION EQXX is the result of a mission we set to break through technological barriers and lift energy efficiency to new heights. It answers the progressive demands of a modern generation of customer.”

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX interior is dominated by a 47.5-inch dash screen.

But Mercedes’ push toward electrification is driven by more than political virtue signaling. Long dominant in the U.S. market, Germany’s Teutonic trio of Mercedes, BMW and Audi have been passed by the Model 3, which recorded more than 200,000 unit sales in 2020, compared with just 52,000 for Mercedes’ best-selling GLC-class sport utility. As EV mandates accelerate in the next few years, Tesla is in the catbird seat, accounting for about 80% of EV sales in the U.S.

“Marking the launch of a new, super-purist design style, the EQXX represents a new expression of efficiency in interior design,” says the Mercedes press release, echoing Tesla. “In a departure from the conventional design approach, the interior layout focuses on just a few modules and the beautiful simplicity of lightweight design.”

The design includes vegan leather seats made from mycelium, adapted from the rootlike structure of mushrooms. Carpets are made from bamboo fiber, and the rear floor from landfill items like mixed plastics, cardboard, even baby diapers.

The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX packs its 100 kWh battery - the same size as a full-size EQS sedan - into a compact body.

The chassis is based on a 900-volt architecture for quicker charging and a heat pump is integrated to keep cold-weather battery losses to a minimum in, for example, frigid Michigan winters.

“By making efficiency the new currency, Mercedes-Benz has created … luxury and convenience with less impact on nature, and more electric mobility with less waste,” says the Mercedes press release.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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