The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX concept unveiled today could go a long way towards eliminating range anxiety for the EV lexicon — as long as 1,000 kilometers, or 625 miles, per charge.
Making its debut as part of a virtual presentation during the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show, the EQXX is the latest in a series of all-electric concept vehicles pointing in the direction the German automaker is taking as it shifts to battery power. Like the Vision EQS that is now in Mercedes showrooms (as the EQS), the EQXX concept is “a new technology blueprint for series production,” the automaker said in a statement.
As with the EQS before it, the Vision EQXX aims to bring together the classic luxury features of a Mercedes model while shifting from internal combustion to battery power. But the product development team put a premium on efficiency, aiming to squeeze out every possible mile of range from the show car’s battery pack. It also makes extensive use of both recycled and “bio-engineered” materials to make the design more sustainable.
A holistic approach
“The Vision EQXX is all about creating a holistically better electric car that looks stunning and futuristic,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.
If the EQS serves as the electric alternative to the familiar S-Class sedan, the EQXX offers a glimpse of where the German automaker might go with a battery-powered take on its coupe-like CLS line. It retains a moderately long and aggressive front end, though the hood flows out of a low and grille-less front end with cats-eye lamps linked by a narrow light bar running across the nose.
The interior picks up more space than the exterior footprint might suggest by stealing back space normally devoted to the engine compartment. There’s also a flat load floor that allows for a low, floating center console. The seats are thin and lightweight, the cabin taking on a high-tech look that emphasizes not only technology like the pillar-to-pillar Hyperscreen but the use of sustainable materials. That includes synthetic and bio-engineered fabrics using raw material derived from cactii and mushrooms. They yield “the look and feel of leather,” said design leader Joana Jarisch.
Record efficiency = longer range or a smaller pack
“Efficiency is the new currency,” said Mercedes’ R&D chief Markus Schafer, during a CES presentation online.
According to the automaker, the EQXX uses less than 10 kilowatt-hours of energy to travel 100 kilometers. Measured another way, the concept yields about 6 miles per kWh. If it maintains that in production it would mark a significant milestone. Tesla’s current longest-range models get a little more than 4 miles per kWh, while the new Lucid Air Dream Range sedan pushes that to about 5 miles per kWh. Measured yet another way, the EQXX gets the equivalent of 235 miles per gallon of gasoline.
This high level of efficiency means a production vehicle based on the EQXX could deliver record levels of range — or could switch to a much smaller, lighter and less expensive battery pack and still deliver 400 miles per charge.
“The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars,” said Källenius. “It underlines where our entire company is headed,” he added. “We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.
As with the EQS that went on sale last year, the midsize EQXX relies on a unique “architecture” that places its battery pack, motors and other electric drive components below the load floor.
The pack is much smaller than the one in the current sedan, downsized enough that it could fit into a compact sedan, said Mercedes. It “holds almost 100 kWh of energy, yet has 50% less volume and is 30% lighter than the already benchmark pack in EQS,” the automaker said in a background statement. Mercedes did not indicate the type of battery the show car uses but indicated it uses a number of improvements compared to the cells in the EQS, including modified anodes with higher silicon content.
The automaker is working to jump from today’s lithium-ion batteries to even more advanced technologies. It has partnered with Massachusetts-based startup Factorial Energy to develop next-generation solid-state batteries that could reach production by around mid-decade.
The EQXX not only generates more power from a smaller battery but has been designed to minimize energy losses in a variety of ways. Overall, Mercedes claims, 95% of the power stored in the battery actually is used to power the vehicle. That compares with 75% on the EQS and is about double the energy efficiency of a conventional vehicle.
This efficiency is achieved in a number of ways, beginning with its aerodynamic design. It is even more windswept than the production EQS which has a drag coefficient of 0.20, an all-time record for a volume production vehicle. In concept form, the EQXX has a Cd of just 0.17.
“The aerodynamics of the Vision EQXX embody this fusion of tech and aesthetic for us as designers. In line with our philosophy of Sensual Purity,” said Gorden Wagener, Mercedes’ chief design officer. “We created spectacular proportions that combine beauty with efficiency. The resulting body flow delivers revolutionary aerodynamics. The fact that the end result is as beautiful as it is bears testament to the skill of our design team working in close collaboration with the aerodynamics experts.”
New electronic control technologies further improve the overall efficiency of the EQXX drivetrain.
The EQXX uses an enhanced thermal management system which wastes less power heating and cooling the battery pack, depending upon weather and driver demands.
Ancillary electrical components can draw power from a secondary lithium-iron-phosphate battery that itself draws power from 117 solar cells on the roof of the EQXX.
Single motor drive
Additional changes were made to the Vision concept’s drivetrain system. To deliver maximum performance for minimal power, the EQXX development team turned to the Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains unit. Based in England, it is the center of the company’s Formula 1 program. But it has also been working on the development of new, electrified powertrain technologies.
Mercedes recently purchased British EV motor company Yasa. It has been developing a new type of motor dubbed an “axial flux” that will show up in AMG production models before mid-decade. It is not clear if that motor is in the EQXX, however.
Compared to the production Mercedes-Benz EQS, the EQXX delivers significantly lower levels of power. Its single electric motor generates approximately 150 kilowatts, or about 204 horsepower, said Mercedes. The base EQS 450+ pumps out 329 hp. But where that current model weighs in at nearly 5,450 pounds, the EQXX is about 1,600 pounds lighter.
Since the EQXX uses the same modular platform as other Mercedes products it seems possible a twin-motor drive system could follow.
For the moment, Mercedes is being vague about specific production plans for the EQXX, only suggesting that it provides a “blueprint” for future models. “Many of its features and developments are already being integrated into production, including the next generation of the MMA — the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture for compact and medium-sized cars,” the automaker said in a statement.
It concluded that “many of the innovations in the Vision EQXX could be quickly adapted for production applications.”