1930s-inspired concept points to Mercedes-Benz’ electrified future
Mercedes-Benz unveiled its latest concept car highlighting its historic racing past and future electrified ambitions called the Vision EQ Silver Arrow at Pebble Beach in California during Monterey Car Week. The new one-seater vehicle is inspired by the record-breaking W 125 car from 1937, which itself was inspired by the aviation industry.
Recommendations at the time from aircraft development departments of Ernst Heinkel and Willy Messerschmitt were to shorten the front overhang and make the front more rounded and extended downward and more steeply at the tip. This was intended to reduce lift on the front axle, while a longer and strongly raised rear reduced lift on the rear axle. With the W 125, Rudolf Caracciola achieved a two-way average 432.7-km/h speed on the A5 autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, a public-road speed record that stood until November 2017.
Those details and others like the rounded cockpit glazing modelled on a drop of water in outline and cross-section are reflected in the design of the new Vision EQ Silver Arrow.
“The historic Silver Arrows demonstrated that Mercedes-Benz was a pioneer when it came to speed thanks, among other things, to their streamlined shape,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG, who unveiled the car at Pebble Beach. “The Vision EQ Silver Arrow draws on that legacy. Intended for acceleration and driving pleasure, it embodies progressive luxury and provides an insight into the future of our design. As a result, the show car drives the design idiom of our new EQ product and technology brand to the top.”
The Vision EQ Silver Arrow is the latest in a string of EQ concept vehicles previewing Mercedes-Benz electric cars to come. While the Silver Arrow is far from production, the others have been closer to market.
The compact Concept EQA from the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show featured one electric motor per axle with system output of over 200 kW. At the same show, Smart presented the vision EQ fortwo, an electric and autonomous car for efficient and flexible local public transport and car sharing. The Concept EQ from the 2016 Paris Motor Show launched the new EQ product and technology brand in the form of a SUV coupe that previewed the EQC coming to market in 2019.
The Vision EQ Silver Arrow is conceived as an electric vehicle, with an output of 550 kW. The thin re-chargeable battery in the underbody has a capacity of about 80 kW·h and enables a calculated range of over 400 km (250 mi) according to the new (and controversial) WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure). Side air vents help to cool the battery.
The Vision EQ Silver Arrow continues Mercedes-Benz current Sensual Purity design philosophy, in this case the streamlined and slim silhouette is about 5.3 m (17.4 ft) long and about 1 m (3.3 ft) tall. Its body structure is made of carbon fiber with multiple layers of paintwork in alubeam silver meant to look like liquid metal. Functional attachment parts like the front splitter are also made of carbon fiber. Also in front is a continuous light strip and the trim below is designed as a display. The side skirts also feature a light strip and large EQ brand just the front wheels illuminated in EQ blue. In the rear are a bottom diffuser and two extendible rear spoilers on top that also act air brakes when maximum deceleration is required.
The multi-spoke (168 of them!) aluminum wheels are painted EQ rose gold and have non-rotating partial hub caps. They are fitted with nearly slick Pirelli 255/25R-24 tires in front and 305/25R-26 at the rear, with a star-pattern tread.
The interior is accessed not by swinging side doors but by opening a cockpit forward. Traditional materials, including brown leather on the seat and steering wheel, polished aluminum, and solid walnut with darker coniferous wood pinstripes on the floor, are intended to provide a link to historic racing cars of the Silver Arrows era. In contrast are high-tech solutions such as the large projection surface for the panoramic screen and innovative user experience solutions such as the virtual race option. The seats feature a laser engraved star pattern, echoing the tire tread. Other interior details include Airscarf neck-level heating in the seat, a four-point racing-type seatbelt, movable pedals controlled from the seat, and sidewall grey suede matching the exterior alubeam silver paint finish.
The driver gets a large panoramic screen on which a 3D image of the surroundings is projected from behind. Previewing future charging technologies, the lane of the roadway on which inductive charging is possible is superimposed onto the screen.
Artificial intelligence makes it possible to engage in a virtual race against historic or present Silver Arrow racing cars, a virtual racetrack superimposed onto the real roadway on the panoramic screen. The driver sees his/her opponent either ahead of or behind them as a “ghost.” The Virtual Race Coach assistance function gives driver-educating instructions during the race. A steering-wheel touchscreen enables selection of Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ programs that alter the car’s driving characteristics, and powertrain sound settings from the current Formula 1 Silver Arrow or a Mercedes-AMG V8 engine.