Mercedes electric car range quest doesn’t end at 770 km

With the Mercedes EQS revealed yesterday, Daimler is proud to have an electric car in its portfolio that can travel more than 750 km (466 miles) on a single charge, but it’s not putting further innovations in this regard on ice. Work is already in progress to develop an EV with a range of more than 750 miles.

After introducing the EQS to the world yesterday, Christoph Starzynski, Vice-President Electric Vehicle Architecture, Mercedes-Benz, was asked in an interview if the new electric car’s range of 770 km (478 miles) in WLTP was “the end of the line.” In response, Starzynski said:

No, it doesn’t stop at 770 kilometers. We have already announced the next step with the Vision EQXX technology program. Our development department is tasked with pushing the boundaries of range and efficiency. That’s why we’ve put together a cross-functional and multi-disciplinary team in Stuttgart, supported by specialists from the British Mercedes-Benz F1 HPP Group. The colleagues contribute their expertise in electric motors as well as their motorsport-inspired development pace. Innovations from this technology program will be rapidly transferred to series production models.

Christoph Starzynski, Vice-President Electric Vehicle Architecture, Mercedes-Benz, in an interaction published on Daimler’s media site.

This isn’t the first time we hear a Daimler official talk about Mercedes-AMG HPP’s involvement in the development of the Mercedes EQXX. Last month, Hywel Thomas, MD, Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, said the same in an internal interview while talking about how that division participates in the development of some road cars.

We are invited to take part in projects – albeit in different ways. From doing peer reviews on development that is going on, to co-developing concepts with our colleagues in Germany. One great example of that is our participation in the EQXX technology program, where we work alongside our engineering colleagues to take the next step in the reach, efficiency and charging of electric vehicles.

Hywel Thomas, MD, Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains

In addition to F1 and Formula E, Thomas said that Mercedes-AMG HPP is concentrating hard on the Mercedes-AMG Project One and Mercedes-Benz EQXX projects. “That means we are developing the technologies in our racing program and introducing them in road car projects where appropriate,” Thomas added.

The Mercedes EQXX was announced at the Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update event in October 2020. The event was about the future of Mercedes-Benz (incl. Mercedes-AMG) concerning electrification, and it included a surprise announcement of the Mercedes EQXX concept (Mercedes Vision EQXX), which will be the most efficient electric vehicle in the world.

High-end EVA & MMA Platform

To begin with, company officials spoke about Mercedes electric cars launching this year (2021). Mercedes-Benz’s head of research and development, Markus Schafer, confirmed there would be 4 products on the high-end EVA platform the brand was developing, which will include two sedans, two SUVs and “maybe some more surprises to come after that,” the executive said.

Mercedes EVA platform
The high end Mercedes EVA platform can support some “surprise” launches from the company too.

The Mercedes EQS is the first product to use the EVA platform. The Stuttgart-based luxury carmaker confirmed that other products on this platform would include the Mercedes EQS SUV, Mercedes EQE, and Mercedes EQE SUV. The Mercedes EQS offers rapid-charging at 200 kW for a “significant period of time,” enough to achieve a range of 300 km (186 miles) in just 15 min. Mercedes manufacturing plants in Europe, China, and USA are currently tooling up to produce electric cars on the EVA platform.

Mercedes car Charging Speed
The Mercedes EQS offers 770 km (478 miles) of range, and sustained rapid-charging at 200 kW.

Next up, Schafer spoke about the Mercedes MMA platform, which will feature entry-level Mercedes electric cars like the next-generation Mercedes EQC and second-generation models of the Mercedes EQA and Mercedes EQB. Interestingly though, Schafer said the MMA could also fit a “nice engine” at the front, and such a product would be made as long as the market demands it, indicating that petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrids of entry-level Mercedes cars could be seen side-by-side their electric counterparts.

Mercedes MMA platform
The Mercedes MMA can also underpin a conventional internal combustion engine Mercedes product.

Mercedes EQXX

The highlight of the strategy update, though, was the announcement of a Mercedes EQXX electric concept, which is touted to be the “longest range, highest efficiency electric vehicle the world has ever seen.” The silhouette of the Mercedes EQXX was shown as a teaser. However, it was not mentioned when Mercedes would show the concept car. The IAA 2021 (Munich) programed in September could be a good platform to unveil the concept.

Speaking about its range capability, the Mercedes EQXX would do Shanghai to Beijing in one charge; the two cities are separated by a distance of 758 miles (1214 km). The Mercedes EQXX electric concept will chase the next-generation technology, the brand said. However, it did not divulge details on the battery pack’s size, electric motors’ capacity, or cell chemistry.

Mercedes Vision EQXX concept
The silhouette of the Mercedes EQXX features an aerodynamic body with a long-tail. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Cd was as low as 0.19.

As to how the Mercedes EQXX will achieve this range, the company said they will be pushing the aerodynamics to the maximum possible and will optimize the drivetrain for maximum efficiency. We get a hint of the first part with the silhouette of the EQXX, which looks streamlined with a long-tail back. We think the Concept EQXX could have a co-efficient of drag (Cd) at least of 0.20, which would is achieved with the EQS.

The lower the Cd, the better, as drag acts against the vehicle’s direction, making it consume more power to cover the same distance. Electric car makers understand this and are constantly battling the air resistance in their wind tunnel facilities to get their Cd values as low as possible. The Tesla Model 3 has a Cd of 0.23, which commanded praise in 2018. Since then, Porsche has one-upped Tesla with its Taycan electric with a Cd of just 0.22. We would not be surprised if the Mercedes EQXX hit a number as low as 0.19.

Gallium Nitride

Coming to the internals, Konstantin Neiss, Director of R&D Transmission and eDrives, Mercedes-Benz, said the company would try to move away from Silicon Carbide and focus on Gallium Nitride. While the former is still pretty high-tech, researchers say Gallium Nitride is the Silicon Nitride of the future.

Owing to its wider band gap than Silicon Carbide, Gallium Nitride can sustain higher voltages than silicon can survive, and the current can run through the device faster too. Gallium Nitride is proven to be more efficient than its Silicon counterparts as it loses less energy and can survive at higher temperatures. According to one researcher report, replacing current electronics with Gallium Nitride could cut power use by 10 to 25 percent.

Mercedes electric car architecture
While Silicon is pretty high tech in 2020, Gallium Nitride is expected to be the future Silicon Carbide according to researchers.

Mercedes F1 HPP will bring the expertise in eMotors plus motorsport-inspired development speed. The technology on the EQXX promises to fascinate, and what’s thrilling is that these technologies could cascade into lower models and the next-generation Mercedes electric SUVs.