Update: ‘Efficiency over Robotaxis,’ ‘Driving Impressions’ & TopElectricSUV says sections added.
With the Mercedes EQS sedan, Mercedes-Benz Group is proud to have an electric car in its portfolio that can travel 780 km (485 miles) as per WLTP 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!
The Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update event in October 2020 was about the future of Mercedes-Benz (incl. Mercedes-AMG) concerning electrification, and it included a surprise announcement of a Mercedes EQXX concept – the Mercedes Vision EQXX, which is the most efficient electric vehicle in the world.
Mercedes not done with its quest for EV range
After introducing the EQS to the world, Christoph Starzynski, Vice-President Electric Vehicle Architecture, Mercedes-Benz, was asked in an interview if the EQS’ range 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 Mercedes-Benz Group‘s media site.
This wasn’t the first time we heard a Mercedes official talk about Mercedes-AMG HPP’s involvement in the development of the Mercedes EQXX. In March 2021, Hywel Thomas, MD, Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, said the same in an internal interview while discussing 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.
Efficiency over Robotaxis
In a November 2022 interview with The Verge, Mercedes-Benz CTO Markus Schäfer, admitted that the company has sidelined its pursuit of robotaxis in favor of committing fully to driver-assistance solutions and more energy-efficient vehicles. The German executive stated that Mercedes is working on a plan which would see its future EVs featuring the 920-volt architecture currently found in the EQXX Concept. Focus will also be directed towards increasing range by 20-30% whilst further reducing the vehicle’s overall electric consumption. As for robotaxis, Mercedes-Benz has left that for other parties to figure out, claims the publication.
Mercedes EQXX Design
The Mercedes Vision EQXX is part of a Mercedes-Benz technology program intended to overcome technological barriers and create new energy efficiency benchmarks for EVs. The goals of the program require rethinking fundamentals, hence the unusual exterior design. In popularity, SUVs are taking over, but a low and streamlined body style is more suitable for setting new efficiency records. That’s why the Vision EQXX is a coupe, but it’s not any coupe!
Sleekest four-door Mercedes
The Mercedes EQXX concept is by far the sleekest four-door Mercedes-Benz model. It looks bigger than it is because of its extremely long tail. It’s 463 cm (182.3 inches) long, with the wheelbase accounting for 280 cm or 110.2 inches of length. According to a report from auto motor und sport, the rear doors of the concept are non-functional.
The ultra-sleek exterior leads to an extremely low drag coefficient of 0.17 Cd, making the Vision EQXX the most aerodynamically efficient Mercedes-Benz built. The report mentioned above says that the frontal area is less than that of the CLA (2.20 m2).
The lower the Cd, the better, as drag acts against the vehicle’s direction, making it consume more power to cover the same distance. Automakers are constantly battling air resistance in the 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. Porsche one-upped Tesla with its Taycan electric with a Cd of just 0.22. In 2021, the Lucid Air with 0.21 Cd and Mercedes EQS with 0.20 Cd made the competition quite intense among the aerodynamicists.
Inside, the Mercedes Vision EQXX flaunts a futuristic yet production-possible design. The highlight is a fully-digital dashboard, a 47.5-inch 8K mini-LED display stretching between the pillars. This stunning one-piece display has more than 3,000 local dimming zones! To put that into perspective, even an 86-inch LG 8K mini-LED TV (86QNED99VPA) doesn’t have that many local dimming zones (close to 2,500). That’s the level of attention the development team has given to energy consumption and efficiency.
Mercedes EQXX Specifications
Mercedes-Benz R&D and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) jointly developed the platform of the Mercedes Vision EQXX. Mercedes-Benz Group says that the car’s electric-only chassis with lightweight F1 subframe gives it a race car-level efficiency.
The Mercedes EQXX concept would do New York City to Cincinnati, or Berlin to Paris, in one charge. Its charging socket is on the right rear quarter. The car has a 920-volt battery pack with an energy storage capacity of almost 100 kWh (net), and yet, it weighs 1,755 kg or 3,869 lbs (unladen). The battery pack occupies 50% less volume and is 30% lighter than that of the EQS.
When Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Vision EQXX in 2021, it said the concept EV offers a range of more than 1,000 km (621 miles). In June 2022, the company proved its claim by setting a much higher record than the estimate. It covered a distance of 1,202 km (747 miles) on a single charge in the research vehicle, all the way from Stuttgart, Germany, to Silverstone, UK. The average energy consumption during the road trip was 8.3 kWh/100 km (62 miles). The German automaker didn’t set the record in normal driving conditions, but it’s still an impressive feat.
Mercedes-Benz had arranged a highway closure and a cross-country diversion near Stuttgart. From there, the company crossed the French border near Strasbourg in the Vision EQXX then drove it across northern France at highway speeds to Calais, where it boarded the Eurotunnel. In the UK, it took the M25 around London, took a stop at Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix in Brackley, and then drove to Silverstone. The trip didn’t come to an end there without driving on the iconic British race track. Dutch racing driver Nyck de Vries who races for the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team drove it for 11 laps and touched the car’s top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph) during these laps.
|Start||Stuttgart Untertürkheim, June 21st, 2022, 08:15 CEST|
|Arrival||Silverstone, UK, June 22nd, 2022, 18:02 BST|
|Travel route||Untertürkheim, Reims, Calais, Brackley|
|Driving distance||1,202 kilometers (747 miles)|
|Total travel time||14 hours and 30 minutes|
|Average speed||83 km/h (52 mph)|
|Top speed||140 km/h (87 mph)|
|Average energy consumption||8.3 kWh per 100 km (62 miles)|
The energy density is close to 400 Wh/l, making it possible to fit a large battery with such a high energy usable content into the compact dimensions. The high energy density itself became possible with the advancements in the chemistry of the anodes. Mercedes-Benz Group says that the higher silicon content and advanced composition of the anodes allow them to hold significantly more energy compared to other anodes. The electrical and electronic (EE) components lie in a separate compartment, called the OneBox. The battery pack, including this OneBox, weighs just around 495 kg (1,021 lbs).
In effect, we fitted the energy of the EQS into the vehicle dimensions of a compact car.Adam Allsopp, Advanced Technology Director, Mercedes AMG HPP
The Mercedes EQXX features 117 solar cells on the roof that can add up to 25 km (16 miles) to the driving range. A separate LFP battery pack stores solar energy, which can power the lights, the infotainment system, a climate blower, and other ancillaries. Work is on to make the solar energy used for charging the traction battery pack.
Mercedes-Benz Group says that the Vision EQXX consumes less than 10 kWh/100 km (>6 miles/kWh), which is equivalent to a 1L/100 km (235 mpg U.S. or 282 mpg UK) fuel consumption rating for an ICE car. That’s the same electrical energy as watching a 50-inch LED TV for 100 hours or using a typical domestic AC for around three hours.
Back in 2020, we initiated an exciting next step in electric vehicle development and put together a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary team of experts supported by specialists from the Mercedes-AMG F1 team. We instructed them to aim beyond 1,000 km on one charge. But not by making the battery bigger. Anybody could do that. No, they’re working with a normal-sized battery, destined for series production in a forthcoming Mercedes compact car.Ola Kallenius, CEO, Mercedes-Benz Group AG and Mercedes-Benz AG (Mercedes-Benz Strategy Update: electric drive)
Not a racecar
Besides focusing strongly on aerodynamics and weight reduction, Mercedes-Benz Group has kept the performance level of the Vision EQXX normal to ensure a four-digit range figure. The concept car employs just one motor, positioned at the rear axle, generating 150 kW (201 hp). Developed in-house, it’s the eATS 2.0 motor that will power the MMA platform-based EV models, suggests the report from auto motor und sport. The company hasn’t released the top speed, but the German report suggests that it is 150 km/h (93 mph).
The battery pack and motor work in sync to such an extent that 95% of the stored energy ends up at the wheels. That’s better than BMW Group’s fifth-gen eDrive motors, which achieve an efficiency of 93%.
Mercedes-Benz Group used a 150 kW motor probably to keep the weight in check. Perhaps higher outputs demanded a heavier cooling system. According to a report from JESMB, the company has used a passive cooling technique for the battery pack, which indicates that it was taking every step it could to reduce components. It hasn’t installed an on-board charger as another weight-saving measure.
The lack of an active cooling system for the battery pack means that the Vision EQXX can’t take advantage of its 920-volt technology to the fullest extent. 120 kW is the maximum charging power the car can accept, as per the auto motor und sport report. However, just 15 minutes of charging should be enough to give a range of 300 km (186 miles), which could meet the required weekly range for almost all car owners.
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 bandgap 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 research report, replacing current electronics with Gallium Nitride could cut power use by 10 to 25 percent.
The technologies on the Mercedes EQXX fascinates us, and what’s thrilling is that they would cascade into lower models and the next-generation Mercedes electric cars.
DigitalTrends noted that the EQXX concept was incredibly fun to drive, with a great steering feel, and a willingness to change direction, unlike other EVs. Contrary to their initial expectations, the car left the testers more impressed with its ability to tackle tight corners at much higher speeds.
Angus Mackenzie of CarExpert noted during his test drive that the EQXX has suspension that’s sports-car firm and steering that’s wonderfully direct. Apart from that, it drives pretty much like every other EV on the market, said Mackenzie. He did point out that, with the regen set to coast, the Vision EQXX’s speed dropped barely 1.2 mph (2 km/h), despite a slight crosswind, on a kilometer-long straight after lifting off the accelerator at 64 mph (103 km/h).
A test drive by Robb Report mentioned how the EQXX’s slippery design made for spooky sensations, as the testers noticed no discernable effect on the vehicle’s speed when lifting off the throttle on a flat section of the track. The review also took note of the fact that while a 0-60 mph time of 7 seconds wasn’t record-shattering, an interior made from cactus fibers, bamboo, mushroom roots and vegan silk was definitely inviting.
Clean & functional interior
In his test drive of the EQXX, Chris Davies of SlashGear was impressed with the high quality and robustness of all the switchgear, with no creaks to be heard. The reviewer also liked the functional and clean user interface of the touchscreen displays, while he noted that the highest setting of the EQXX’s energy recuperation mode slows down the car far more aggressively than most production EVs in their maximum equivalent setting.
Launch plan/Release Date
Inspiration for the future EQA sedan?
Mercedes-Benz CTO Markus Schafer has said that “many, many elements” of the Vision EQXX are close to seeing series production and that its shape and form are very close to the series production car due in 2024. Mercedes-Benz Group CDO Gordon Wagener has said that the concept is “at least one segment smaller” than the EQE, as per Autocar.
In addition to influencing the design of a compact or mid-size EV, the Vision EQXX will lend its highly advanced technologies to various future EVs. In a conversation with Autocar’s sister publication Move Electric, a Mercedes-Benz spokesman said that the company will use the concept’s technology and processes adopted during its development in mainstream models. The Vision EQXX “is a blueprint for series production” and many of its innovations will soon appear in production models, the spokesman said.
This new so-called MMA architecture, as Markus explained, it ushers in a new era, new generation of technology, both on the drivetrain side, in terms of battery technology, chemistry, and also the efficiency of the drivetrain itself. The EQXX was kind of the research car that is the proof point of what you will in action in the series cars in only two or three years’ time.Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, at the ‘Economics of Desire’ event on May 19, 2022
The Mercedes EQXX concept is a tech demonstrator and also a production-intent car, Steffen Kohl, Director – Head of Exterior Design, Mercedes-Benz Group, previously suggested.
This car (Mercedes Vision EQXX) shall not just be a science (scientific) proof. It is a vision for a four-door limousine luxury Mercedes-Benz product.Steffen Kohl, Director – Head of Exterior Design, Mercedes-Benz Group (VISION EQXX – Episode 1: The Challenge on December 23, 2021)
The EQXX concept car will not be mass produced, but many of its exterior, electronic and electrical features will find their way onto future production models. The next-generation EQA, EQB, EQC sedan and EQA sedan are all expected to incorporate the EQXX concept’s technologies.
Featured image: Mercedes-Benz Group