Surprisingly perhaps, the might of Mercedes-Benz only currently boasts a single EV on its otherwise ample model roster. It’s fair to say that the B-Class Electric Drive has failed generate quite the same buzz as arch rival BMW’s much heralded and outlandishly styled i3. However, any lost ground could soon be about to be gobbled up, as the three pointed star lays down the blueprints for an ambitious EV offensive in the coming years with the unveiling of the Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
This sporty SUV coupé is no mere carrot-dangler of a concept, at least not according to Mercedes bosses. The German marque’s star attraction in Paris is a very clear indicator that a fleet of new generation EVs is very much in the Stuttgart pipeline.
A powerful electric drive system, comprising of an electric motor on each axel and a floor-mounted battery, can throw out as much as 300kW – that’s an impressive 402bhp in old money. That’s complemented by 516 lb-ft of instant torque channelled through the advanced AWD system, giving the Generation EQ a sub-five second 0-62mph sprint time.
What’s more, its maximum range of 310 miles far exceeds that of the existing B-Class EV and in the medium to long term, Mercedes envisage that home charging units could even hit the 300 kW mark. In real terms, this could potentially see future all-electric Mercedes of the EQ’s ilk recharged sufficiently for a 60-mile journey in just five minutes.
But back to the here and now for a second. The Generation EQ – or ‘electric intelligence’ – SUV not only foreshadows the technology but also the potential design language of Mercedes’ incoming wave of EV models. Although the basic architecture of the concept we see here may be moulded to the proportions of the in-vogue sports crossover form, it’s essentially scalable in every respect, from the wheelbase and track width to all internal components including the batteries. In essence, what the Generation EQ represents is not a stand-alone concept, but a template for a whole host of production EVs, whether they be SUVs, saloons, coupés, cabriolets or roadsters. It’s the precursor to a new generation of Mercedes cars; the clue’s in the name.
What of the design then? We’ve already seen BMW’s ground-breaking take on EV styling with the i series and, to a certain extent, Mercedes’ interpretation follows suit. The black bonnet, innovative blue LED grille and dark-tinted panoramic roof provide the perfect foil to the silver paintwork. Seamlessly melded body panels, concealed windscreen wipers, cameras in place of wing mirrors and the absence of conventional door handles gives the Generation EQ an almost pebble-like smooth exterior finish. Particular design highlights are the shooting brake rear end and 21-inch light-alloy wheels, housed in flared arches.
Moving inside, the EQ seats four, with the rear passengers enjoying entertainment screens integrated into the front backrests. Up front, traditional knobs and switches have been purged in favour of simple touch-based controls, several of which adorn the three-spoke steering wheel and centre consol. The instrument panel is dominated by a 24-inch HD wide-screen display, with digital dials showing speed, range, driving data and navigation details.
With a concept of this detail already conceived, it’s by no means a quantum leap to image Mercedes unveiling plans for a first production ‘EQ EV’ within the next 12 months – if not sooner. Whatever your stance on the big EV question, there’s no doubt that intriguing times lie ahead as the notion of electric cars for the masses becomes an ever more palpable possibility.