Mercedes-Benz launches new VISION EQXX electric car with a range of over 1000 kilometres (620 miles)

Mercedes-Benz have launched their new VISION EQXX electric car that will offer a range of over 1000 kilometres (620 miles). In the process, this will become the electric car with the car with the longest range available on the market, beating the Lucid Air.

The slick-looking new electric vehicle (EV) is able to achieve this thanks to an ultra-efficient set-up all round. It offers an outstanding energy consumption of less than 10kWh per 100 kilometres (six miles per kWh).

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Mercedes, who will only launch new electric cars from 2025 onwards, have worked hard on making the new VISION EQXX electric car as light and efficient as possible to achieve this outstanding range figure using software-defined research.

Along with the ultra-impressive range, Mercedes have also created a great looking car. It’s hard not to be impressed with the VISION EQXX’s beautiful curves and subtle, almost minimalist interior.

Ola Källenius, Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG chairman of the board of management, said: “The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars.

“Just one-and-a-half years ago, we started this project leading to the most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built – with an outstanding energy consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometres. It has a range of more than 1,000 kilometres on a single charge using a battery that would fit even into a compact vehicle.

“The VISION EQXX is an advanced car in so many dimensions – and it even looks stunning and futuristic. With that, it underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.”

The new VISION EQXX weighs just 1,750kg and is combined with a low aerodynamic drag coefficient (0.17cd). Both of these combined make a huge difference to the overall efficiency of a car.

Rather than just load up on batteries, which adds weight, Mercedes-Benz engineers worked with the world’s fastest race lab at High Performance Powertrains (HPP) to create a more efficient set-up. Together they developed a completely new lighter and smaller battery pack for the VISION EQXX.

Mercedes have achieved a remarkable energy density of close to 400Wh/l. This benchmark figure is what made it possible to fit a battery pack with just under 100kWh of usable energy into the compact dimensions of the VISION EQXX.

Adam Allsopp, HPP advanced technology director, said: “In effect, we fitted the energy of the EQS into the vehicle dimensions of a compact car. The battery has almost the same amount of energy but is half the size and 30 percent lighter.

“The battery management system and power electronics have been designed with an absolute focus on reducing losses. In achieving this efficiency milestone, we learnt a lot that will flow into future development programmes.”

This was all achieved using technology, design and chemistry found in the high-performance world of Formula 1 and Formula E. Further details of the efficiencies are explained below.

Battery Development

The substantial increase in energy density comes in part from significant progress in the chemistry of the anodes. Their higher silicon content and advanced composition mean they can hold considerably more energy than commonly used anodes.

Another feature that contributed to the impressive energy density is the high level of integration in the battery pack. This platform, developed jointly by Mercedes-Benz R&D and HPP, created more room for cells and helped reduce the overall weight.

The separate compartment for the electrical and electronic (EE) components, called the OneBox, likewise made more room for cells, with added benefits for installation and removal.

The OneBox also incorporates novel safety devices with energy-efficient operations that consume significantly less energy than the equivalent component in a production EV.

Tasked with pushing the envelope of technical feasibility on all levels, the battery development team also decided to experiment with an unusually high voltage. Increasing the voltage to more than 900 volts proved an extremely useful research tool for the development of the power electronics.

The team was able to gather a great deal of valuable data and is currently assessing the potential benefits and implications for future series production.

Several aspects of the battery design add to its exceptional efficiency. For instance, its lightweight lid was engineered jointly by Mercedes-AMG HPP and their chassis partners at Mercedes-Grand Prix. The lid is made from a unique, sustainable composite material derived from sugar-cane waste, reinforced with carbon fibre, as used in Formula 1.

The battery also features active cell balancing, which means drawing the energy evenly from the cells while the car is driving – in effect, giving it greater stamina. Overall, the battery weighs around 495 kilograms, including the OneBox.

Innovative Thermal Management System

The VISION EQXX also features an advanced thermal-management system. On the one hand, it preserves the thermal energy and on the other, significantly reduces cooling drag. Both contribute to maximum efficiency.

How does it do this you may ask? The Mercedes-Benz “cooling-on-demand” concept has been further developed not only for optimal cooling based on the prevailing circumstances. The exceptional efficiency of the electric drive unit means it generates only minimal waste heat.

This helped keep the thermal management system extremely small and lightweight. The carefully engineered interaction of aero-shutters, coolant valves and water pumps ensures the electric drive unit, comprising the power electronics, electric motor and transmission, maintains the most efficient temperature balance at a minimum energy cost.

Technically, this system is a combination of an innovative air-flow management system and a cooling plate. The cooling plate is installed in the vehicle floor, enabling it to take advantage of the air flowing along the underside of the VISION EQXX.

This is the most aerodynamically efficient way of keeping the electric drive unit cool under normal conditions, allowing the vehicle to gain about 20 kilometres of range in the most aerodynamic mode.

Only when the weather is hot or the driving style is “lively” does the cooling system ramp up a notch. Shutters that are normally closed at the front of the VISION EQXX open when things heat up and send extra cooling air along a system of air guides.

The inlets for these air guides are cleverly located along the front bumper’s highest-pressure zone. Conversely, the outlets are in low-pressure zones along the top of the bonnet.

The beauty of this “cooling-on-demand” approach is that when the shutters are open, it adds only seven points (0.007) to the drag coefficient. If cooling is required when the vehicle is at a standstill, a backup cooling fan kicks in (thermal-efficiency mode).

Efficient Heat Pump

Another neat function found in the VISION EQXX is the innovative heat pump. It sucks up heat generated by the drive system and from the ambient air outside to keep the cabin cosy. Its impressive efficiency is a major boost for battery range in colder parts of the world.

This multi-source heat pump recovers waste heat from the drivetrain and has an external heat exchanger that draws heat from the ambient air. This feature increases the operating temperature range.

This is especially handy for heating the cabin of the car quickly and is highly effective at lower temperatures. To squeeze out every last calorie of heat, it even uses the “evaporator enthalpy” when dehumidifying moist ambient air. Enthalpy is the latent energy released as heat when water vapour in the air changes state from gas to water.

Solar Power

The electric system that powers many of the ancillaries in the VISION EQXX draws additional energy from 117 solar cells on the roof. It was developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE – Europe’s largest solar energy research institute.

The net result of reducing the energy drain on the high-voltage system is an increase in range. On a single day and under ideal conditions, this can add up to 25 km of range on long-distance journeys.

The solar energy is stored in a lightweight lithium-iron-phosphate battery, which supplies a climate blower, the lights, the infotainment system and other ancillaries. Mercedes-Benz and its partners are working towards using solar power to charge the high-voltage system, too.

Efficient Wheels and Tyres

Wheel and tyres on the VISION EQXX have been optimised for rolling resistance and aerodynamics. Mercedes-Benz engineers worked in cooperation with Bridgestone.

Together they took advantage of Bridgestone’s Turanza Eco tyre combined with lightweight and environmentally friendly ENLITEN and ologic technology enabling ultra-low-rolling-resistance.

The tyre design also features aerodynamically optimised sidewalls to match the covers mounted on the 20-inch, lightweight, forged-magnesium wheels. The semi-transparent double-spoke design of these covers meets all aerodynamic requirements while at the same time retaining a view of the rose-gold accents adorning the wheels.

Simple and Lightweight Interior

In a departure from the conventional design approach, the interior layout focuses on just a few modules and the beautiful simplicity of lightweight design. There’s an absence of complex shapes and the integration of lightweight structures into the interior aesthetic in a wholly organic way, making traditional trim elements superfluous.

From mushrooms to vegan silk, nature’s influence continues inside the VISION EQXX. The lightweight luxury feel of the interior comes from extensive use of lightweight, sustainable materials and organic-inspired design detailing. The basic principle is maximum comfort and style with minimum weight, and absolutely no animal-derived products.

It is made predominantly from renewable ingredients found in nature. This completely new material category created by the power of biotechnology is designed to be less harmful to the environment and is used for details of the seat cushions in the VISION EQXX. On the floor, the carpets in the VISION EQXX are made from 100 percent bamboo fibre.

The VISION EQXX also makes extensive use of recycled waste materials, such as the recycled PET bottles used in a shimmering textile to enhance the floor area and door trim.

Higher up in the interior, the designers used Dinamica made from 38 percent recycled PET to create a wrap-around effect linking the upper edge of the one-piece screen with the doors and headliner. The interior also features UBQ material, a sustainable plastic substitute made from household and municipal landfill waste.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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