Ahead of CES 2022, Mercedes-Benz unveiled an electric concept car that pushes the limits of efficiency and range.
The Vision EQXX boasts a claimed range of over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles), or about 100 miles more than the current range champ, the 520-mile Lucid Air. Mercedes didn’t achieve that by simply using a bigger battery pack. In fact, at 100 kilowatt-hours of usable capacity, the concept car’s pack is close in size to the Air’s. Instead, Mercedes focused on making every part of the Vision EQXX — from tires to batteries — as efficient as possible.
One specific area of focus was aerodynamics, because the less energy a car needs to expend punching a hole through the air, the farther it can go. The EQXX’s flattened nose and elongated tail give it a coefficient of drag (cd) of 0.17, beating Mercedes’ own EQS, which is currently the world’s most aerodynamic production car. Even the 20-inch wheels were optimized for aerodynamics, while the Bridgestone Turanza Eco tires were designed for ultra-low rolling resistance.
The bodywork also helps with heat management. A system of shutters can draw heat away from the battery pack to keep it cool, or keep heat in to preserve range in colder temperatures. A heat pump draws waste heat from the drivetrain to warm the cabin, too. The pack itself has about the same capacity as the Mercedes EQS pack, but it’s half the size and 30% lighter, the automaker claims. The pack is also supplemented by a small solar array.
Mercedes also tapped its Formula One powertrain division to help design a compact drive unit combining the electric motor, transmission, and power electronics. Mercedes said this unit can transfer 95% of the energy from the battery pack to the wheels, making it vastly more efficient than any internal-combustion powertrain. However, with an output of 201 horsepower, it’s not exactly overflowing with power.
To keep weight down, Mercedes used software to design parts based on organic forms, using material only in load-bearing areas. The interior also features a number of materials, including vegan silk, a mushroom-based leather substitute, and bamboo fiber, that are both sustainable and lightweight, Mercedes claims. Still, at 3,858 pounds, the Vision EQXX is no Lotus. The battery pack accounts for some of that weight and, because this is a Mercedes, you still get plenty of luxuries, including a massive infotainment screen.
The Vision EQXX isn’t destined for production; it was built to demonstrate Mercedes’ engineering cleverness. However, elements of it might be incorporated into future production cars. Mercedes hopes to go all-electric in at least some markets by 2030, and is already rolling out new EVs. The recently launched EQS sedan will soon be followed by an EQS SUV, plus an EQE model in both sedan and SUV body styles. Mercedes has also confirmed the smaller EQB SUV for the U.S., and sells the EQA and EQC in other markets.