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Mercedes claims end to range anxiety with Vision EQXX concept. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes claims end to range anxiety with Vision EQXX concept
Mercedes-Benz has revealed the Vision EQXX concept, which previews tech for future long-range electric cars.
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What's all this about?

The Vision EQXX is a technical exercise designed to show us just how efficient an electric car can be. Designed to offer a range of more than 1,000km (621 miles) without using an especially large battery, the car is intended as a blueprint for the technology that will make future vehicles more energy-efficient.

Sorry, 1,000km on one charge?

Yep. That’s what Mercedes-Benz claims, anyway. In fact, Mercedes says it has put an “end to range anxiety” – the fear of running the battery dry.

Thus far, electric car manufacturers have generally increased a car’s range by the simple expedient of increasing the size of the battery. But with the Vision EQXX, Mercedes challenged its engineers to increase range without exceeding 100kW of available battery capacity.

That meant slapping some fresh new tech into the vehicle, with the aim of cutting energy consumption. Although we tend to focus on electric car range, their efficiency can – perhaps more meaningfully – be measured in miles per kWh or kWh per 100km, if you prefer the metric system. Where a BMW iX xDrive50 will get through around 20kWh for every 100km it drives, the Vision EQXX halves that, achieving 10kWh per 100km or six miles per kWh.

Admittedly, the Vision EQXX is smaller than an iX. It’s difficult to tell from teaser images, but a 280cm wheelbase makes the concept roughly the same size as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloon. And while that’s considerably smaller than an EQS or an iX, the headline energy consumption and range figures remain vastly superior to pretty much anything else on the market.

How has Mercedes-Benz done that?

With a lot of clever tech and engineering nous. For a kick-off, the engineers created a more efficient electric drivetrain capable of transferring 95% of the energy from the battery to the wheels. In comparison, about 30% of the potential energy in fossil fuels ends up at the wheels of the most efficient petrol or diesel car.

That has been achieved by cutting losses wherever possible, with the “F1 experts” at Mercedes-AMG’s high-performance powertrains team in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, getting involved. They reduced the losses through heat management, lubrication and material selection to improve the drivetrain efficiency.

At the same time, the team in Brixworth developed an all-new battery with just under 100kW of usable energy – roughly the same as the EQS saloon. However, the battery is half the size of the one fitted to the EQS and 30% lighter. And it comes with more efficient battery management tech, as well as high battery density and an unusually high 900-volt voltage.

Although it has plenty of volts, the motor system isn’t especially powerful. Mercedes-Benz says it produces around 204hp, give or take, and that makes it around two-thirds as powerful as the existing Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+. That said, it’s about the same as a petrol- or diesel-powered car of similar size.

Other high-tech tweaks include a software system that thinks like a human and utilises video game-engine-powered interfaces to provide real-time graphics and an assistant avatar to help provide the driver with information. That’s all displayed on a “seamless” 47.5-inch display that stretches across the dashboard and includes an 8K lightweight, energy-efficient LED screen.

And as well as traditional features such as satellite navigation, the system can help the driver be more efficient. It does this through a number of measures, including force feedback to help drivers understand the car’s environment better and to help them plan ahead. The car can even provide telematics data and full analysis.

Back to basics

Some features are somewhat less technologically advanced. The Vision EQXX has been made lighter, thanks to the use of bionic engineering that used computers to simulate where savings could be made. For example, the rear subframe only has aluminium where loads are exerted, with empty space where no strength is required.

However, to prevent ingress of water and dirt, Mercedes used a sustainable plastic to produce lightweight patches that fill the gaps. The plastic is sustainable, and made from landfill rubbish including garden waste and nappies.

Similarly, the EQXX has a lightweight but luxurious interior with vegan leather and a vegan “silk-like fabric”, as well as bamboo carpets. Combined with a simplistic design, Mercedes says the cabin has made “traditional trim elements superfluous”. And Mercedes has even cut the number of speakers in the sound system to save weight, although clever tech has helped maintain the sound quality

What's in a shape?

The Vision EQXX is more aerodynamic, too, with a drag coefficient of 0.17. That’s much more efficient than the already sleek EQS (0.2cd), and more efficient than an American football (0.18cd). According to Mercedes, a reduction in drag of just 0.01cd adds around 2.5% to an electric vehicle’s range at motorway cruising speeds.

To achieve that, Mercedes has turned to aerodynamic wheels, a droplet-shaped glasshouse and a retractable rear diffuser. On a more granular level, the front track is 50mm narrower than the rear, while channels can send the air over the bonnet for extra cooling and cut drag around the door mirrors.

The Vision EQXX is not expected to go into production, but Mercedes-Benz does plan to use the technology developed in this car for future vehicles.

James Fossdyke - 3 Jan 2022

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX. Image by Mercedes-Benz.    - Mercedes-Benz road tests
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