The upshot of its work with the VISION EQXX, which has benefitted from Mercedes’ F1 experience, is a “software-defined research protype… to deliver on the planet’s most efficient cars in every respect”. It is essentially a future GT – a continent cruncher with a range of around 620 miles thanks to 95 per cent battery to wheel efficiency enabling six miles per kWh.
To put that into perspective, four miles per kWh is pretty good going on current, production EVs at the more efficient end of the spectrum.
What stands out about the Mercedes VISION EQXX is that it isn’t made of mythical alloys and powered by fairy dust. It uses the 328bhp motor which we would assume is a honed version as that in the production EQS 450+ (itself capable of 478 miles) and a near-100kWh, high power density battery. Running at 900 Volts, the system takes tech that is already on the road and maximises its capabilities.
To look at, the VISION EQXX is unconventional – almost a love child of various other EVs either on the market, or heading there soon. Think Kia EV6 meets Hyundai Prophecy meets Porsche Taycan. There’s a reason why it looks this way, however; the shape is incredibly aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.17. The low 0.20s is very good but below this figure is very slippery indeed.
Air is pushed efficiently round the car by various little aero details including active ducts that ensure efficient thermal management as well as cheating the wind and making the most of the available battery capacity. Similarly, the wheels, brakes and tyres have been optimised for aerodynamics and low rolling resistance. Aero is further helped by the car’s compact dimensions – it’s much smaller than an EQS yet has a similar power capacity.
As well as being compact, the VISION EQXX is a lightweight, not compared to a petrol-powered car, but for the near-100kWh battery capacity. It weighs in at 1750kg, almost half a ton less than an EQS, thanks to the liberal use of composite materials. These include ‘MS1500 ultra-high strength steel’ – a new type of steel being used for the first time in the VISION EQXX.
Doors are carbon and glass fibre reinforced plastic with aluminium components. The wheels are magnesium and brakes aluminium. Subframes are designed by the Mercedes F1 team and 3D printing on some of the interior and exterior elements has further reduced weight. Finally, the car’s roof uses ultra-thin, integrated solar panels which can add up to 15 miles of range on long-distance journeys by reducing drain on the battery from climate control and infotainment.
The interior is built from materials innovated by small brands from around the world. These include AMsilk Biosteel fibre – a high-strength biomaterial in its first use in the automotive industry. Mylo vegan leather or Deserttex animal-free leather is used for interior upholstery, whilst the carpets are made from bamboo fibre. Finally, recycled PET bottles are used to create some of the interior plastics.
When it comes to the powertrain, the battery and thermal management are the stars of the show. The physical size of the battery has been reduced by half and it is 30 per cent lighter compared to a normal circa 100kWh unit. Mercedes and its HPP team have achieved energy density of 400Wh per litre. The total weight of the battery is 495kg, and its management system features cell balancing which apparently gives the battery something akin to greater stamina.
Cooling on demand already exists on Mercedes EVs, but it has been pushed to the next level on the VISION EQXX. Thanks to the efficiency of the cooling, the car’s drive units create very little waste heat. It is achieved through active aero and a cooling plate which is essentially an air-cooled heat sump mounted in the vehicle floor. Even when fully open, the cooling ducts only add 0.007 to the overall drag coefficient. When heating is required, a super-efficient heat pump comes into play.
As you might expect, the VISION EQXX has the latest in Mercedes’ infotainment, including the first ever seamless display which spans a total of 47.5 inches across the entirety of the dashboard from one A pillar to the opposite one. The whole thing is designed to work intuitively through the user interface, building a user experience that is seamless and complimentary to what’s going on both in the cabin, on the road, and on whatever journey occupants are making.
Theoretically, the Mercedes VISION EQXX could come to market eventually. What’s most likely, however, is that things like the interior materials, design details and interfaces will be first to market on production models. Subsequently, the battery tech is liable to follow. We’d like to see a car similar in nature to the VISION EQXX as an entity happen at some point, too. EVs are gaining weight and size – neither of which is a particularly intelligent or efficient way of maximising electric powertrain performance.
Reducing size and increasing efficiency is – as proven by the VISION EQXX – a virtuous cycle.