There was a time when you could readily identify electric cars as “the quirky ones.” With the new generation of electric concepts, you can still readily identify them … they’re the good looking ones.
And nothing demonstrates this better than Mercedes-Benz’s new electric concept — Generation EQ, a car meant for Generation Z — unveiled at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris.
Meant to showcase a new generation of electric propulsion, Generation EQ looks like a cross between a sport-utility and a sport-compact, with a hint of shooting brake thrown in, and even just a glimpse will convey that it’s an electric vehicle with design cues that are not just high-tech showing off.
The car is powered by two electric motors (one at each axle) that can put out as much as 300 kW (402 hp) and 516 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels in a permanent all-wheel drive configuration. Zero to 100 km/h reportedly takes just five seconds, and its range is claimed at upwards of 805 km.
And it’s smart in terms of other Mercedes hallmarks of safety, comfort and functionality (in addition to performance). It’s connected and features innovative interior solutions.
The outside is highlighted by barely-visible body gaps, hidden windshield wipers and door handles, and cameras instead of side mirrors. The inside is simple, with a floating 24-inch widescreen and touch controls meant to mimic those that users are used to on their mobile devices.
The only traditional controls are for the adjustments of the four seats, and why not? Mercedes is widely recognized as having one of the best seat adjustments in the world. Even the door opening and window controls are touch operated, as are the steering wheel controls, with the driver able to swipe through the menus and select with a click.
The EQ reportedly stands for “Electric Intelligence” (get it? Like IQ, but it’s E for electricity), which is itself an adaptation for a Mercedes brand slogan of “Emotion and Intelligence.”
“The mobility of the future at Mercedes-Benz will stand on four pillars: Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric. ‘Generation EQ’ is the logical fusion of all four pillars,” says Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The emission-free automobile is the future. And our new EQ brand goes far beyond electric vehicles. EQ stands for a comprehensive electric ecosystem of services, technologies and innovations.”
EQ will become the electric identity of Mercedes. Its cars will be developed from new architecture, developed specifically for electric vehicles. It is highly modular, with the ability to adapt wheelbase and track, scale battery packs (in a Lego-like build-block configuration that can provide as much as 70 kWh of energy). Mercedes says that with the base architecture, it can produce SUVs, sedans, coupes and convertibles, as well as others. Its structure will be steel, aluminum, carbon-fibre and whatever future product the world might produce to make designs lighter, stronger, sustainable and cost-effective to produce.
“Generation EQ is hot and cool. Its fascination lies in a reinterpretation of our design philosophy of sensual purity, the aim being to create an avant-garde, contemporary and distinctive electro-look,” says Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Daimler AG. “At the same time, the design of the visionary show car, which has been reduced to the essentials, reveals an alluring progressivity.”
But EQ will be more than just a “Class” of Mercedes, similar to what the i Series is to BMW. It will be a comprehensive electric mobility ecosystem with products, services, technologies and innovations, ranging from electric vehicles to wallboxes and charging services, to home energy storage units.
As for the car, Mercedes claims it’s close to production, with a face “panel” that embodies the design cues of Mercedes-Benz models in a futuristic LED interpretation, with a blue-illuminated radiator grille centered by a white-illuminated 3-pointed star, all in a panel that incorporates all the light needs for the car.
The “Black Panel,” as Mercedes calls it, is mirrored at the other end, with the white-illuminated tri-star in an array of blue lights that change to red under braking. At both ends, touches of gold and rose are tie-ins to the interior adaptive-ambient lighting that is also extensive, expressive and energy efficient.
And of course, it features the latest driving aids, leading to autonomous driving, with systems that can render its surroundings in 3D, precisely map out curve radii, allow the car to interact with infrastructure (as well as to other road users), and map out possible charging points along a route (using the navigation system and real-time information gathering about traffic and weather).
“In 2007, the e-smart was a pioneer of electric motoring,” concluded Zetsche. “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.”