- Mercedes-Benz revealed its Vision EQXX concept as part of the CES technology show this week.
- The powertrain is notable for promising 620 miles of range thanks to a compact, energy-dense battery and motor, both of which Mercedes developed in-house.
- With 201 horsepower and a top speed limited to 87 mph, it diverges sharply from the Mercedes flagship image of the past.
Mercedes has released more details about the pioneering powertrain in the Vision EQXX concept that was shown earlier this week, with the company confirming that the first car to use a version of the long-range EV powertrain will be in production by 2024.
“This is more than a concept car; it is a technology program,” chief technology officer Markus Schäfer told journalists in an online call after the unveiling. “All the elements on this car will make it into series production. The battery, for example, is an early prototype of the chemistry that you’re going to see in the new generation of concept cars.”
The new battery’s enhanced energy density is thanks to next-generation silcon carbide anodes that Mercedes has developed in-house, allowing the EQXX to store similar energy to the range-topping EQS’s 107.8-kWh pack in a space 50 percent smaller. Mercedes is planning to use the same technology for smaller capacity packs as well, which will be lighter and cheaper, but the company’s engineers also insist that the EQXX’s claimed 620-mile range will be achievable under everyday conditions rather than just simulated testing. “It is 1000 km on real streets, so the WLTP range [the way Europe measures electric range] will be even higher,” Eva Greiner, the drive system’s chief engineer, said. We’re promised that the Vision EQXX will be sent into the real world to prove its ability to deliver those numbers.
We’ve also learned that the ultra-efficient 201-hp motor that turns the EQXX’s rear wheels is a radial flux unit that has been developed in-house by Mercedes based on the technology that it is already using. Work on it predated the company’s recent acquisition of Yasa, a British manufacturer of high-performance axial flux motors. Merc’s next generation of compact EVs will use this newly developed radial flux unit, with Schäfer confirming the plan is to also offer all-wheel drive by adding a second motor; we presume axial flux motors will therefore be reserved for higher-performance models. The EQXX (and production cars that will share its powertrain) have been designed for efficiency rather than outright speed, but even using a single motor Greiner says it can run from zero to 62 mph in a respectable 7.0 seconds, although the concept’s top speed is limited to just 87 mph.
The relatively modest output of the new motor is also what allows the battery pack to use air cooling rather than liquid cooling. This might look technically retrograde compared to the wider EV market, where almost all cars now use liquid cooling (the Nissan Leaf being the notable holdout). But careful temperature management through what is described as a cooling plate on the base of the cell pack means the EQXX can do without the use of a more energy-intensive cooling system, part of its impressively frugal six-mile-per-kWh consumption. That’s about 50 percent better than the longest-range Tesla, the 405-mile Model S, which gets roughly four miles per kWh.
Despite air cooling, Schäfer promises the new powertrain can still support respectably rapid charging speeds, with the targeted ability to support rates that will able to add at least 186 miles of range in 15 minutes by the time production versions reach the market. He also makes the point that if you have a 600-mile plus battery pack, you won’t need to worry about charging it nearly so often.