Next generation of Mercedes-Benz’s compact electric models previewed by sleek new EQXX Concept
Mercedes-Benz has made great strides with its electric vehicle lineup over the last 12 months, but while the new EQS, EQE and their forthcoming SUV derivatives are ready to dominate the high-end market, the job of making a substantially more efficient EV is the real challenge. It’s one that the new EQXX Concept will attempt to pursue as a fully-functioning prototype with impressive claims not just in terms of range, but its energy consumption.
Mercedes has done this by focusing on a variety of elements that make up a modern EV, from the batteries, electric motors, to lightweighting and aero. Yet the most impressive figure from the EQXX’s stat sheet isn’t the drag figure or quoted range, but the targeted energy-to-wheel efficiency, which sits at an astonishing 95 percent. This is an impressive figure when compared to an internal combustion engined car, which sits at around 30 percent, but even when compared to the most efficient of modern EVs is a high target.
This is expected to yield a round 1000km range for the EQXX with a kWh/100km energy consumption figure under 10 – nearly half that of the 18.9-16.2kWh/100km rating of its EQS saloon. This is how Mercedes-Benz will get there.
Batteries and electric motor
In the pursuit of ultimate efficiency, Mercedes-Benz has dipped into its AMG High Performance Powertrains operation in Brackley, applying some of the lessons learnt in the development of its battery pack and electric motors from both Formula 1 and the Project 1 hypercar.
The single electric motor mounted on the rear axle produces just 204bhp (150kW), but is comparatively tiny compared to the units found in the EQS and EQE, and its potential losses through drivetrain components like gearboxes and driveshafts streamlined to the absolute minimum. The EQXX utilises a 900V electrical system, 100V up on the Porsche Taycan and some Hyundai/Kia models, the EQS uses a comparatively meek 400V system.
The battery pack has a near-100kWh usable capacity, roughly the same as the 102kWh (usable) of the much larger EQS, but thanks to a variety of efficiency gains within its packaging it is 30 per cent lighter at 495kg. This has been done by condensing its electronic hardware into what Mercedes call a Onebox layout, and the passive cooling of the battery pack – a huge efficiency bonus and something that cars like the EQS and Porsche Taycan control through energy and space-sapping cooling circuits.
This intensive streamlining should yield benefits in Merc’s future production models, with miniaturisation of the powertrain a technique already being brought to the market by industry innovators like California’s Lucid.
Chassis and aerodynamics
Developing such an efficient powertrain requires a similar amount of streamlining to take place with the rest of the package. The EQXX’s bespoke chassis is a direct preview of the new mixed-metal MMA platform that Mercedes will debut in its next-generation compact-medium sized models. This will eventually replace the combustion-derived chassis of the current EQA and EQB, yet being a concept, the EQXX Concept goes further than what’s expected in the forthcoming production models by employing the use of carbonfibre reinforced plastics for the doors and some exterior panels and 3D printing in elements both structural and decorative like the steering wheel’s lower spoke. The result is that despite nearly 500kg of batteries, the EQXX hits the scales at 1750kg.
Yet the EQXX’s party trick is its 0.17 coefficient of drag rating, trouncing the current EQS’s 0.20 CoD which ties with the Lucid Air as the slipperiest production car on sale right now. Yet while the two Mercedes models both have very impressive figures, how they got there differ markedly, with the EQS’s jelly-mould silhouette swapped for an almost three box-like silhouette finished with an extended and shorn tail. Other concessions to aerodynamics can be found in the tapering track-widths – the front axle is 50mm wider than the rear – while the new face previews the future of Mercedes Benz design that does without even a graphical representation of a traditional grille.
There are also lots of small details that clean up the aerodynamics, with active airflow management that keep intakes and openings covered unless absolutely necessary, while junctions around pillars and glazing are as smooth as possible as are the wheel covers and underbody. Inside, the design previews Merc’s next generation compact model interior, with a similar application of horizontally-mounted screens that in this case stretches right across the dash, with air vents and supplementary controls mounted beneath.
With the Volkswagen Group proceeding with its Artemis project and BMW’s next generation of EVs promising big steps forward, the EQXX is Mercedes’ vision ahead it hopes will push its current position in EV development against its key rivals. Whether the EQXX directly translates into a production model remains to be seen, but its progress in efficiency and design in future EVs certainly will.
This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk
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