Mercedes-Benz on a mission
The Germany car manufacturer talked a strong sustainability game in Frankfurt and offered a glimpse into the future of luxury EV travel in the Vision EQS.
Most OEMs realized that, to stay competitive in the automotive industry, they had to adapt to survive. The sector is undergoing some major changes, and purely building the same cars for customers won’t be a viable business model. In Frankfurt at the 2019 IAA, Mercedes-Benz set out its stall regarding clean transport as it pledged to offer a CO2-neutral new car fleet by 2039; fit an electric drivetrain to at least half of its vehicles by 2030; and achieve CO2-neutral car production in Europe by 2022.
As a result, there was predictably a huge emphasis on electric powertrains—not only just the development of them, but also the production and deployment of them too—in Frankfurt and how they can fit in with the lineup of premium cars in the Mercedes-Benz range. To give visitors at the show an idea of how this goal could be achieved, and maintaining the Mercedes-Benz core values at the same time, the company premiered the Vision EQS.
Although currently estimated (but close to in-house targets, according to the company), the numbers for the EQS are impressive. Using a battery pack with a capacity in the region of 100 kW·h, the car produces around 350 kW and a peak torque of roughly 760 N·m (560 lb·ft). This configuration enables 100 km/h (62 mph) to be reached from a standstill in under 4.5 s, a top speed greater than 200 km/h (124 mph), and a WLTP driving range of up to 700 km (435 mi). In terms of charging times, Mercedes-Benz says the show car’s battery can be 80% recharged in “considerably less than 20 min.”
The EQS has electric motors mounted on the front and rear axles and—like the majority of new EV concepts—the battery cells packaged into the floor to benefit interior space and also help achieve a lower center of gravity. The lithium-ion battery pack was sourced from Daimler subsidiary Accumotive, an illustration of how the company is working with nontraditional companies to further vehicle technologies and architecture.
For the EQS platform, a completely new battery-electric drive system was created that is scaleable across a number of Mercedes-Benz product ranges. Thanks to this modularity, the wheelbase and track and other major components are also variable and can be easily transferred to other vehicle types. The vehicle structure is based on a mix of traditional materials such as steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber but also sustainable materials that have been formed from recyclates. This approach, says the company, will be a key enabler to meet the sustainability targets and also the desired levels of weight, strength, and efficiency.
While being fully aware of the age of autonomous driving, Mercedes-Benz is also keen to keep drivers in control of specific vehicles, and the EQS is an example of this. The company says that the car has been engineered with dynamic handling characteristics in mind and a focus on the driver—who desires individual mobility that they are in control of. However, the car also supports the driver with automated driving up to SAE Level 3, thanks to the integration of a number of modular sensor systems that can be adapted and extended in the future to full autonomy.
Building on the appearance of previous EQ models, Mercedes-Benz has created a sleek “one bow” silhouette that echoes previous premium models from the company. The car’s Digital Light headlamps each have two holographic lens modules built into a continuous 360° exterior light belt. At the rear, there is more lighting innovation, which includes 229 illuminated, individual stars that further reinforce the car’s origin and make it more prominent on the road.
Inside—and not for the first time—Mercedes-Benz has taken inspiration from luxury yachts. Flowing lines are meant to bring a calm and relaxed atmosphere to the surroundings, and the dashboard was designed to encompass passengers like the deck of a boat.
Many of the elements seen on the Vision EQS are likely to feature on Mercedes-Benz models in the future, as the company continues its journey to become more sustainable and efficient, while still providing the desired level of driver interaction.
“We have developed our new e-platform exclusively for the requirements of mid- and full-size luxury cars to take full advantage of all the opportunities offered by this technology,” said Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz. “We want to offer more than the protective shell that transports us from A to B. The thinking remains the same—the form it takes develops and changes. Design must always set new benchmarks.”