Mercedes-Benz has already publicly committed to producing an all-electric vehicle platform by the end of the decade, which will spawn multiple models ranging from compact to full-size luxury. Body styles will include an SUV, sedan, convertible, and a coupe as well. But before all that happens, the German automaker has offered a peek behind its curtain; the Generation EQ concept SUV debuting at this year’s Paris auto show points the way toward a new generation of mobility, connectivity, and design.
“The mobility of the future at Mercedes-Benz will stand on four pillars: Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric,” said head of Mercedes-Benz and Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche. “Generation EQ is the logical fusion of all four pillars. The emission-free automobile is the future.”
Similar to Tesla’s approach, the Generation EQ features a floor-mounted lithium-ion battery paired with an electric motor at each axle, providing permanent all-wheel drive, 402 hp, and 516 lb-ft of torque. It will sprint from 0-60 mph in under five seconds. The concept SUV is capable of 310 miles of all-electric range, working from a 70-kW lithium-ion battery built by Daimler subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive, which means Mercedes is not at the mercy of outside companies like LG or Panasonic.
The architecture is scalable as far as width, track, and wheelbase, and thus can accommodate a variety of battery capacities for the different models headed for series production. Expect continued use of lightweight materials like aluminum and carbon fiber, in order to minimize weight and structural rigidity.
A common thread between the design of the Generation EQ and other electric concept vehicles like the Vision Tokyo, Vision Van, F 015, and Concept IAA is clear. The EQ continues Mercedes’ emphasis on flowing lines and aerodynamics, but more so than any of its predecessors, this concept most resembles a real car we will see on the road in the not-too-distant future. Once you strip away the futuristic show-car glam, handle-less doors, mirror-less profile, and 21-inch wheels, there’s a nicely proportioned vehicle we can easily see looking at home in the showroom. The overall shape is not too far off from what we currently see on the GLC Coupe, incorporating stylish design cues like an aggressively raked rear window and a full-width LED rear lighting signature. A redesigned radiator front grille provides the best preview yet of the face of Benz design to come.
Inside the cabin it’s more familiar design cues from previous concepts, with a focus on an all-new display and frameless center stack that combines OLED lighting with an all-touch, button-free, knob-free interface. The design is highlighted with illuminated blue accents and rose gold borders. A huge 24-inch screen stretches across the driver’s-side dashboard all the way through the center of the dash is an evolution of the current design seen on the E-Class and S-Class. Drivers can freely adjust the digital display readouts according to preference. Integrated displays in the doors replace traditional exterior mirrors.
Along with the vehicle itself, Mercedes also announced a line of electric services like wallboxes and charging services. The Generation EQ will either charge at home using a wallbox or wireless induction system, and there is also compatibility with fast-charging. The fast-chargers of today work with capacities from about 50 to 150 kW, but Benz says 300 kW-capability is also down the road in the medium- to long-term. With such a charging system, 62 miles of range could be restored in fewer than five minutes.
It should come as no surprise at this point that a concept car like the Generation EQ is also positioned to combine autonomous driving capability with shared mobility and Car-to-X technologies. Using HERE digital 3D mapping, drivers can be informed about navigation as well as local attractions and services like charging stations.
Already we’ve seen Mercedes push the envelope of its current lineup with vehicles like the GLC F Cell, but the Generation EQ represents the clearest picture yet of how the company will look to redefine itself for a zero-emissions future. The dedicated EV platform will be crucial in the years to come, and will potentially birth as many as four all-electric vehicles by 2020. Not only will Mercedes-Benz have an answer for the Tesla Model X, S, and 3, but it will attempt to carve out crucial market share in an emerging space against stiff competition from familiar foes like Audi and BMW.