Update: Design, Level 2+ Autonomous driving features, Range & Charging, and Release Date & Manufacturing sections revised.
Mercedes-Benz has started testing a new pure-electric compact car that would be more efficient, range-focused, and perhaps cheaper than the EQA SUV. Previewed by the Mercedes Concept CLA Class, and expected to be launched as the first-ever Mercedes CLA Electric in late-2024, it could set several benchmarks in the segment. Here’s what we know:
Mercedes likely to drop EQ branding in future models
Future EV models from Mercedes-Benz, starting in 2024, may not feature the ‘EQ’ branding, as per a Handelsblatt story, filed on January 12, 2023. EQ stands for “Electric intelligence” and the brand values of “emotion and intelligence,” introduced in the market with the Mercedes EQC in 2019.
The German automaker plans to go all-electric where market conditions permit by 2030. By moving away from the combustion engine, a separate electric brand is no longer necessary, adds the German newspaper report. Sticking with one nomenclature for all its cars in the future, including the CLA, would also avoid confusion.
According to a report from Automotive News on May 23, 2023, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the design of the CLA Electric to North American dealers in mid-May. Sources cited by Automotive News suggest that Mercedes’ future electric vehicle will be bigger than the gas-powered CLA and have a sleeker profile.
In August 2023, spy pictures and videos revealed several interesting design details, and then on September 3, 2023, in Munich, the Concept CLA Class was unveiled as an early preview at IAA 2023. Mercedes-Benz Group Chief Design Officer has said that the company will carry over “pretty much everything” of the Concept CLA Class to its production version, Autocar reported on September 13, 2023.
The Mercedes CLA Electric will have low, wide and athletic stance. The sleek four-door EV will sport an elongated hood, short overhangs, a slender greenhouse, a long wheelbase, and a coupe-like roofline.
At the front, the CLA Electric would feature angry-eye-like circular headlamps. The recent spy media shared by youtube channel walkoART, shows a CLA Electric prototype with the star-shaped daytime running lights, similar to the concept. A concaved nose section with a new star-studded faux grille panel (optional) and a functional lower air intake would be positioned below these lights. Thus, the face of the car may look quite aggressive, like that of a shark. Lastly, it’s possible that the A-shaped grille’s star inserts will glow, perhaps with softly changing brightness for realism, when the car is stationary.
On the sides, in addition to the extra-slippery roofline precise joints and shut lines, we expect powerful wheel arches, big, 20-inch wheels, and flush-fitted door handles to be among the design highlights. We expect a short rear deck and a swoopy rear overhang to also add to the car’s sporty styling. The rear windows will be slightly bigger than on the current CLA, so passengers in the back will be able to enjoy a little more of the scenery.
At the rear, we expect a ducktail spoiler integrated into the trunk lid, a convex rear bumper, and circular lights with start-shaped clusters, imitating the look of the headlights.
‘Curved Ultrawide Display’ with new tech features
The Mercedes CLA Electric’s interior will be highly digital, as seen in most recent Mercedes-Benz models, especially in EVs. The CLA Electric will be the brand’s first model to be available with MBUX Superscreen, a low-cost version of MBUX Hyperscreen seen on bigger electric Mercs, engineered for compact models. This will be an optional feature, with basic variants expected to feature a simpler dashboard layout.
MBUX Superscreen integrates three horizontal displays seamlessly integrated beneath one glass surface, without transitions or bumps. These displays could be mini-LED panels with thousands of local dimming zones. The passenger display would allow the front passenger to use third-party video streaming services while traveling. Eye-tracking and various other safety technologies would ensure the driver doesn’t get distracted by that. Rear headroom and rear knee room should be better compared to the gas-powered second-gen CLA.
The electronics of the CLA Electric, both system and in-cabin, would run on the Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS). Developed in-house, the new software “will perfectly link the vehicles with the cloud and the IoT, and comprise four central domains: Powertrain, Autonomous Driving, Infotainment, and Body & Comfort Systems,” Dr. Michael Hafner, Vice President MB.OS Base Layer & MBUX, Mercedes-Benz, said in an internal interview. The car should have a slew of eco-friendly materials on the inside, such as a biotechnology-based and certified-vegan silk-like fabric and a paper material made from recycled cellulose.
The Mercedes CLA Electric will debut the company’s electric-first MMA platform and a new electric drive unit simply called the ‘Mercedes-Benz Electric Drive Unit (MB.EDU).’ MB.EDU would consist of power electronics featuring silicon carbide (SiC) for high efficiency, a two-speed transmission, and a permanent magnet synchronous motor with barely any heavy rare earths – close to 0%.
Battery & Motor
The CLA Electric would be available in single-motor RWD and dual-motor AWD configurations. Autocar claims that customers will be able to choose between 201 hp and 223 hp single-motor RWD configurations initially and that a 536 hp AMG variant in a dual-motor AWD configuration will follow in 2025. 58 kWh LFP and 85 kWh NMC will be the battery pack options, as per the British publication’s intel.
Range & Charging
The batteries of the Mercedes CLA Electric would operate at 800 volts and support charging at up to 250 kW. On the WLTP cycle, just 15 minutes of charging could be enough to cover a distance of 249 miles. On a full charge, the maximum WLTP range will likely be more than 466 miles. The maximum EPA-est. range of the CLA Electric could be around 375 miles. JESMB has learned that bi-directional charging will be available in the MMA family, but not from Day 1.
Level 2+ Autonomous driving features
In the same report, JESMB says that Mercedes’s market analysis has shown that there is currently no market for the Level 3 system in the entry segment. For Level 3 approval, the braking, electrical system, radar, steering, lidar and camera systems would have to be upgraded. This increases costs and is currently not aligned with Mercedes’ entry segment, adds JESMB. Instead of Level 3, the company is likely to start with a highly-developed Level 2+ system featuring comfort functions on the CLA Electric.
Release Date & Manufacturing
The production-ready Mercedes CLA Electric will have its world premiere at the end of 2024 and go on sale in the first market at the start of 2025, as per a report JESMB released on July 26, 2023. The U.S. launch should take place the same year. The company has confirmed that the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt (Germany) will begin producing the MMA platform (Mercedes Modular Architecture) models from the middle of the decade. The North American market should source the CLA Class from this center.
Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake Electric
Since the CLA’s inception early last decade, it has been a tradition for the line-up to include a Shooting Brake. The practical long-roof derivative will follow it in the third generation, securing its space in the three-pointed star’s shrinking compact car line-up. The redesigned, third-gen estate will be available as an EV. The first-ever Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake Electric could start arriving in dealerships in 2025.
We’re expecting the Mercedes CLA Electric as a four-door coupe offering a sleek and stylish design, high levels of aerodynamic and energy efficiency, and an impressive driving range that sends range anxiety into the history books! Expect prices to start at around USD 50,000 in the U.S.
Mercedes CLA Electric FAQs
What is the Mercedes CLA Electric release date?
The Mercedes CLA Electric should start arriving at U.S. dealers in 2025.
What will be the Mercedes CLA Electric price?
The CLA Electric could cost around USD 50,000 onwards.
Which cars will be Mercedes CLA Electric rivals?
The CLA Electric would rival variants of the Tesla Model 3 in the U.S. and the Nio ET5 in other markets.
Featured Image Source: Mercedes-Benz