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Mercedes-Benz’s futuristic concept car underpins its plan to topple Tesla from the EV throne

January 3, 2022, 6:00 PM UTC

Mercedes-Benz unveiled on Monday a futuristic concept car that symbolizes its ambitions to wrestle leadership of the electric vehicle future from Elon Musk’s Tesla.

The German carmaker said the Vision EQXX can travel over 600 miles, or 1,000 kilometers, on one charge—a distance roughly equal to a drive from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta, or Berlin to Paris.

Debuting at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the ultra–long-range car boasts an energy efficiency of six miles per kilowatt-hour, equivalent to about 235 miles per gallon for combustion engine cars.

While the teardrop-shaped sedan itself will not go into production, Mercedes called it a “technology blueprint” for products to come. A number of its powertrain features will be found in the next generation of compact and midsize Mercedes EQ electric vehicles that begin to launch starting in 2024.

“The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars,” said chief executive Ola Källenius in a statement on Monday. “It underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.”

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX concept EV
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Inventor of the modern automobile more than a century ago, the Stuttgart-based carmaker aims to ditch its combustion engine roots and go all electric as early as 2030. The recently launched $100,000-plus flagship EQS is the first electric Mercedes to hit the U.S. market, and spearheads the brand’s efforts to penetrate a premium EV market dominated by Tesla.

While the EQS has a EPA-rated range of 350 miles—slightly less than the standard Tesla Model S— reviewers for Edmunds were recently able to drive it for 422 miles.

Aerodynamic rear

Developed in just 18 months, the road-legal Vision EQXX concept comes with a 200-horsepower electric motor and incorporates the latest technological achievements in efficient, lightweight engineering and sustainable materials. Much like the favored “first principles” approach to problem solving employed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Mercedes started by rethinking the vehicle from the ground up with solar roof panels and “bionic” engineering inspired by nature. 

Thanks to the generous use of silicon instead of graphite in its cell electrodes, the concept car’s battery only takes up half the space and is 30% lighter than the pack built into the Mercedes EQS. 

The concept car’s aerodynamic rear means its drag coefficient (cD), is just 0.17, far better than the 0.21 achieved by the Tesla Model S Plaid or even the EQS’s own 0.20 cD. According to Mercedes, a reduction of just 0.01 already extends an EV’s range by around 2.5%. 

The Vision EQXX’s aerodynamic design helps boost the EV’s range.
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes vice president and senior engineer Jörg Bartels said the carmaker wanted to avoid the obvious and instead find innovative solutions to solve range anxiety rather than increase storage capacity by simply adding more cells.

“The easiest way is to put a bigger battery in the car. However this leads to diminishing returns due to size and weight,” said Bartels. “With the Vision EQXX…we pushed efficiency to a totally new level and explored new ways to increase the range of an electric car.”

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