The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX electric concept unveiled at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show could set the standard for electric vehicle efficiency with a range of 620 miles per charge, or 1,000 kilometers.
The coupe-like sedan features a highly aerodynamic design and a battery that is lighter and smaller than current Mercedes electric cars. They also use recycled and bio-engineered materials that increase their sustainability, including a plant-based, mushroom-based “skin”.
“The Vision EQXX is all about creating a better all-electric vehicle that looks amazing and futuristic,” Daimler and Mercedes Chairman Ola Källenius said during the CES presentation. Like a number of other participants, the German automaker canceled its participation in CES and switched to a virtual presence due to the latest wave of the Corona virus.
Lighter, less drag, more efficient batteries
Mercedes is in the midst of rolling out a long-range wave of battery electric vehicles, including the EQS sedan that will be its first entry into the US market.
Like the EQS, the EQXX Concept puts a premium on efficiency, starting with the aerodynamic “single arc” shape that will, in production, be the most air-efficient car on the market. The drag coefficient is 0.17 compared to 0.20 for EQS.
This is one way to improve efficiency. Mercedes engineers have come up with quite a few others. For the batteries, they have adopted a high-silicon anode and made other improvements to the cells used in the Vision EQXX. As a result, they are 50% smaller and 30% lighter than those in the EQS. That helps keep the concept’s total mass at 3,850 pounds, about 1,600 pounds less than the larger EQS, and 400 pounds less than a conventional CLS sedan.
Rooftop solar cells
What Mercedes does with its batteries, other automakers are working to do as well: Make them lighter and fit in smaller spaces. They also reduce recharge time. Every car manufacturer wants to reduce the recharging time to less than 10 or 15 minutes, not much longer than filling up on gasoline.
Other improvements reduce power losses in the Vision Concept’s electronics and the battery pack’s climate control system. The roof, covered with solar cells, helps charge a secondary battery that powers the vehicle’s additional systems. Finally, about 95% of the energy in the batteries reached the wheels, compared to 75% with the EQS. Measured another way, the EQXX gets the equivalent of 235 mpg.
“Efficiency is the new currency,” said Markus Schaefer, Head of Research and Development at Mercedes.
The EQXX also demonstrates new ways to enhance the vehicle’s sustainability, especially in the cabin. Interior designer Joanna Jarich said that recycled and natural materials are widely used. Mycelium, part of the mushroom’s root-like structure, is used to produce the “look and feel” of normal leather.
The EQS started as a concept dubbed the 2019 Vision EQS. Some expect the EQXX to also end in production, in part because the concept, as it stands now, is seen as buildable without major changes. For now, Mercedes officials say, “many of its features and developments are already being integrated” into other production models the company is developing.