Paris Motor Show: Mercedes Is Ready for an ‘Electric Product Offensive’ with Its New Concept Vehicle
Mercedes-Benz unveiled an electric crossover concept vehicle at the Paris Motor Show on Thursday, which is loaded with tech and can travel up to 312 miles on a single charge.
Concept cars are typically designed to show where an automaker is headed; it’s not necessarily meant to articulate the exact path. However, the Generation EQ concept, as it’s called, could be close to what Mercedes ends up producing for consumers.
The German automaker, owned by Daimler (DDAIF), describes this as a “close-to-production” concept vehicle. It’s meant to be a precursor to a new Mercedes brand called EQ, which will cover a number of electric products, from vehicles and charging services to home energy storage units.
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The concept is an all-wheel drive with two electric motors on the front and rear axles and a battery in the vehicle floor—similar to Tesla’s electric Model S and Model X vehicles. The Generation EQ accelerates to 62 miles per hour in under five seconds, the automaker says.
“In 2007, the e-smart was a pioneer of electric motoring,” said Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, in reference to the electric Smart ForTwo car. “We’re now flipping the switch. We’re ready for the launch of an electric product offensive that will cover all vehicle segments, from the compact to the luxury class.”
The new generation of electric vehicles will be based on a scalable architecture that can be used across all models, including SUVs, sedans, coupes, and cabriolets.
The concept sheds many of the conventional functions of everyday cars—at least visually. Windshield wipers are concealed and exterior mirrors are replaced with cameras that project an image of the traffic behind onto displays in the doors. Even the exterior door handles have disappeared.
The interior is just as streamlined and futuristic. The knobs are gone and replaced with touch-based controls, including on the steering wheel. The touch controls are integrated into OLED displays (organic light-emitting diode). A floating 24-inch widescreen display shows speed, battery range, and other driving data, as well as navigation and maps details.
The concept car is designed to respond to a driver’s mood and preferences. As the driver approaches, the vehicle will automatically activate and then welcome the user by lighting the interior with a specific color. Once the driver takes a seat, the lighting switches to electric blue, with the lights in the doors and on the seats dimming slowly. The widescreen display will gradually build up to present the energy level in the car. The navigation map will then show all the destinations that can be reached on the current battery charge.
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Other features in the concept include a 3D real-time map display from HERE—the former unit of Nokia (NOK) acquired by Audi, Daimler, and BMW—and driver assistance systems. The concept is also able to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure, technology that is necessary for the widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles.
Daimler has ramped up its investment and commitment to electrified vehicles in the past year, although most are plug-in hybrids, not all-electric cars. The company’s Mercedes-Benz brand announced plans last year to introduce 10 plug-in hybrid models by 2017.