Mercedes-Benz revealed a concept car at the 2023 Munich auto show, giving us a glimpse of future electric vehicles (EVs) focused on efficiency.
This concept car, called the Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA-Class, shares its name with a current internal-combustion model but showcases the technology of the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA). This platform will serve as the foundation for four compact EVs in various body styles.
While the exterior maintains the familiar “four-door coupe” shape of the current CLA-Class, it features headlights and taillights shaped like the Mercedes logo, a “grille” adorned with 264 Mercedes stars, and an additional 652 stars on the glass roofs. These stars are illuminated by low-energy LEDs, according to Mercedes.
Underneath, the MMA platform centers around a “remarkably small” battery pack, with different chemistry options available. Entry-level versions will use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry, while high-end models will feature chemistry with a silicon oxide anode. Mercedes claims that this new pack design offers reduced weight and increased structural rigidity.
The Concept CLA-Class also incorporates lessons learned from the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, a record-setting EV prototype that achieved a remarkable 746 miles on a single charge in 2022. The concept borrows its silicon-carbide power electronics, battery-cell packaging, and heat pump from the EQXX. Additionally, Mercedes applied a “bionic” engineering approach, mimicking natural structures in components like suspension parts to achieve strength while using less material.
With an 800-volt electrical architecture, the concept supports DC fast charging at up to 250 kW, allowing for a range recovery of up to 248 miles in just 15 minutes. This architecture also enables vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) capabilities.
The powertrain consists of a single electric motor that contains almost no rare earth metals and delivers 235 hp to the rear wheels through a 2-speed transmission. Mercedes claims that the entire powertrain, including power electronics, weighs only 243 pounds and achieves an impressive 93% efficiency in transferring power to the road.
Inside the car, sustainable materials, previously seen in the EQXX, are used, including bamboo fiber floor mats, vegan-certified fabric, recycled PET plastic upholstery, and coffee bean shell-tanned nappa leather. The vehicle features the Mercedes Superscreen display, similar to the one in the EQXX, which employs a new MB.OS chip-to-cloud architecture for easier software development.
Mercedes states that the concept is equipped with an SAE Level 2 driver-assistance system, with plans to upgrade to Level 3 (subject to local regulations) in the production CLA. Additionally, a rear-seat child detection system based on sensors that monitor breathing patterns is included.
The production version of the Mercedes CLA EV is expected to arrive no earlier than 2024, likely as a 2025 model. In the meantime, existing Mercedes EVs like the EQS demonstrate impressive efficiency, even with their 400-volt technology.
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