Slip into the not so distant future

It would be easy to dismiss the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX as the latest electric concept car that won’t match any kind of reality. Its ultra-futuristic styling and high range/efficiency targets don’t match any production car standard at first glance.

But Mercedes has already said that many elements of the car (if not the car itself) will go into series production, possibly as early as 2024.

It gives the Vision EQXX an extra dose of seriousness that was only amplified after spending an afternoon with the prototype in Los Angeles last week. The car on display is different from the show car Mercedes unveiled earlier this year; this version i saw was just a concept exterior while the other car with full interior is in Germany. That means no pillar-to-pillar Hyperscreen inside and no sunroof, although the car on display was able to show off some of the active aero elements that help the Vision EQXX achieve that ultra-slippery 0.17 coefficient of drag. . This exceeds the 0.20 Cd of the Mercedes EQS and even the 0.19 reached by the Volkswagen XL1.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

A small set of active grille shutters located under the front bumper direct air through channels that exit the hood and only open when more cooling is needed. This air passes over a small cooling plate located under the car. There’s also a deployable rear diffuser that lowers and extends when the EQXX is driving, then stows away when parked so it doesn’t get damaged as it extends quite low behind the vehicle. Even the logo on the front is painted rather than embossed, which is more of a philosophy than a tangible benefit.

Mercedes says they could have made it even more slippery by adding things like wheel covers, but decided that this particular design element was too unrealistic. This implies that the rest of the EQXX’s styling is rooted in some degree of reality and could presage what Mercedes EVs of the future might look like, especially for compact and mid-size vehicles that will also run on the next generation Mercedes-Benz. Modular Architecture Platform (MMA) found under the EQXX.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Making the car so slippery has side benefits, ranging from increased range to a lower load on the battery that allows it to cope with passive cooling. Mercedes engineers said that in the EQXX they actually needed to find ways to generate heat to make the battery more efficient and needed to add thermal insulation rather than additional cooling. To reduce friction, the EQXX also wears specially developed low rolling resistance tires from Bridgestone and wheel covers that are more aerodynamic than the standard rims.

Not having to add a cooling system helps reduce weight, another point that Mercedes has placed particular emphasis on in addition to the car’s aerodynamics. It starts with the battery, which produces almost the same power as the EQS battery but with half the size and 30% less weight, thanks to higher energy density. Mercedes has also confirmed that this is the same battery size we will see in the first generation of vehicles on the MMA platform, although these may have different outputs and capacities.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Also adding to the vehicle’s lightness is more extensive use of Mercedes’ Bionicast parts process. This was first used in 2020 on a production car on an S-Class strut tower, where it halved the weight of the part. Instead of simply casting parts of uniform thickness, a computer process is used to identify where the structure is under more stress and where it can be made thinner to save weight and raw materials.

This process was applied in great shape for the first time on the EQXX, where the entire rear third of the subframe was cast in one piece (as seen in the photo above). The end result was a large metal piece that looks more like an alien structure out of a sci-fi movie, with holes and cutouts all over it. But Mercedes engineers assured me that it was not only light (so light that I could lift one side with one hand), but that it was still strong enough to meet the rigorous safety standards of the company.

The result is a potent combination of lightness and aerodynamics, but what Mercedes engineers seemed to be most proud of was the efficiency of the drivetrain. It has 95% fuel efficiency from cell to wheel, while most EVs hover around the 90% mark. Most of that loss is heat, but the engineers were able to cut it in half and that efficiency is what makes the EQXX charge more efficiently. It can add 186 miles of range in just 15 minutes of fast charging because the amount of power needed to drive the car is so low.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept

What grabbed the headlines the most was Mercedes’ range estimate of 621 actual miles per charge, a figure the company plans to put to the test next month with a drive from the Germany to the Mediterranean Sea at highway speeds and on public roads. Keep an eye out for that as this test will show us how accurate that projection could be and what the MMA rig might be capable of in the future.

Although the show car doesn’t have an interior, I was shown a preview of what the EQXX’s 47.5-inch pillar-to-pillar hyperscreen will look like. Instead of the existing hyperscreen setup that offers three different screens behind glass, it’s a single screen that spans the entire dashboard. In some ways, it’s far less overwhelming than the Hyperscreen experience in the upcoming EQS and EQE, as the information can be spread even further and the graphics are more realistic as they use a game engine to power the system visuals.

For a project that took just 18 months from inception to execution, the Vision EQXX feels deepened and grounded in a rapidly approaching reality, with innovations that will have easy applications across Mercedes’ electric vehicle lineup for coming years.

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