There are generally two ways to increase the range of electric vehicles: pay for a larger battery with more capacity or make the EV use less power. With the Vision EQXX, Mercedes-Benz is taking a big stab at the latter, creating a concept it believes will be able to exceed 1,000 km on a single charge without resorting to an oversized power cell onboard.
"The technology programme behind the Vision EQXX will define and enable future Mercedes-Benz models and features,” said the chief technology officer for development Markus Schafer. "Vision EQXX has seen the best minds from our R&D centres work together with engineers from our Formula 1 and Formula E programmes. They are proving that innovations from motorsport – where powertrains are already highly electrified – have immediate relevance for road car development," he added.
The target for the EQXX is power consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 km. For reference, the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus is rated to consume 14.8 combined, and Benz's own EQS 450+ estimated at 15.7. Mercedes points out that 10 kWh is enough power to run a tumble dryer for three hours.
Using tech from Formula 1, Mercedes-Benz says it has "squeezed the energy of the EQS into the dimensions of a compact car." This means 100 kWh in a pack that is 50 per cent smaller and 30 per cent lighter than the one found in the EQS. It's connected to a drive system that reaches 95 per cent efficiency in power use from battery to wheels. The total power output to move the car is a respectable 201 hp.
A new cooling system also helps improve efficiency. It operates only when needed to warm or chill the battery, with grille shutters that are closed until needed. Mercedes says that even when open, the shutters add just 0.007 to the coefficient of drag. When the shutters aren't needed, a cooling plate under the car uses existing airflow under the car. All-in, Mercedes says this system adds 20 km of range.
Strut towers are made using a new bio-engineering process that uses designs taken from nature to save 4 kg. A similar technique to add sustainable plastic inserts to the rear floor casting cuts weight and reduces cabin noise. Even the brake rotors are a revolution, aluminum instead of cast iron to shed kilos.
The bodywork of the car is one of the most aerodynamic shapes ever created for the road. A coefficient of drag of just 0.17 slashes the amount of energy needed to move the car on the highway. Mercedes likens the greenhouse to a water droplet, flowing efficiently toward the rear of the car. Less obvious and hidden details include a frontal area (a key part of aero efficiency) smaller than a CLA and a rear track 50 mm narrower than the front. It is also a delightfully elegant shape and loaded with details like the gloss black grille with rose gold highlights and the reverse-sloped rear end.
Aerodynamic tweaks extend even to the tires, 20-inch Bridgestone tires with aero-optimized sidewalls that match up with the wheel covers. The rubber uses new Enliten lightweight and low rolling resistance tech.
Inside, the Vision EQXX uses sustainable materials we haven't seen before including bio-tech-based fabrics for the door pulls and a vegan leather alternative made from the underground root structures of mushrooms. A cactus-based faux leather called Deserttex is also offered and the carpets are made from bamboo fibres.
For now, the Mercedes EQXX is just a concept car, but the plan here is for the technology and design lessons learned to translate into other Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Benz says that "this highly effective and efficient digital development approach means that many of the innovations in the Vision EQXX could be quickly adapted for production applications."