Mercedes Benz, in a strategy update announced this month, spoke about the future of its electrification plans, and about the Mercedes EQXX concept which will be the most efficient electric vehicle in the world.
To begin with, company officials spoke about Mercedes electric cars launching in 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.
The Mercedes EQS will be the first product to use this platform, and will launch in 2021 with a range greater than 700 km. The Stuttgart based luxury car maker confirmed that other products on this platform will include the Mercedes EQS SUV, Mercedes EQE and Mercedes EQE SUV.
The Mercedes EQS will offer 200 kW of charging for a “significant period of time”, to give it a range of (156 miles) 250 km in just 15 min. Mercedes manufacturing plants in Europe, China and USA are currently tooling up to produce electric cars on the EVA platform.
Next up, Schafer spoke about the 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.
The highlight of the strategy update though is 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, Mercedes did not say when the concept would be shown.
Speaking about its capability though, 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, though it did not divulge details on the size of the battery pack or capacity of electric motors or the cell chemistry.
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) as low as 0.20, which would be a remarkable feat for the design team.
Lower the Cd, the better, as drag acts against the direction of the vehicle, making it consume more power to cover the same distance. Electric car makers understand this, and are in a constant battle with the atmosphere 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. Personally, we would not be surprised if the Mercedes EQXX hit a number as low as 0.19.
Coming to the internals, Konstantin Neiss, Director of R&D Transmission and eDrives, Mercedes Benz says the company will 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 too. According to one report by a researcher, replacing current electronics with Gallium Nitride could cut power use by 10 to 25 per cent.
The Mercedes EQXX, apart from having Mercedes Benz engineers on board, will also have Mercedes Benz F1 HPP (High Performance Powertrains) giving inputs. 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 more fascinating is that these technologies could cascade into lower models and the next-generation Mercedes electric SUVs.