Mercedes EQXX electric powertrain to enter production, company promises

  • Mercedes-Benz unveiled its Vision EQXX concept as part of the CES tech show this week.
  • The powertrain boasts a promising range of 620 miles thanks to a compact, high-energy-density battery and motor, both developed by Mercedes in-house.
  • With 201 horsepower and a top speed limited to 87 mph, it’s a stark departure from the Mercedes flagship image of yesteryear.

    Mercedes has released more details about the pioneering Vision EQXX concept powertrain that was shown earlier this week, with the company confirming that the first car to use a version of the long-range EV powertrain will be in production by 2024.

    “It’s more than a concept car, it’s a technology program,” Chief Technology Officer Markus Schäfer told reporters in an online call after the unveiling. “Every part of this car will be mass-produced. The battery, for example, is one of the first prototypes of the chemistry you’re going to see in the next generation of concept cars.”

    The improved energy density of the new battery is due to next-generation silicon carbide anodes that Mercedes has developed in-house, allowing the EQXX to store energy similar to the EQS’s 107.8 kWh pack in 50% smaller space. Mercedes also plans to use the same technology for smaller capacity packs, which will be lighter and cheaper, but the company’s engineers also insist that the EQXX’s claimed 620-mile range will be achievable in everyday conditions rather than simple simulated tests. “It’s 1000 km on real roads, so the WLTP range [the way Europe measures electric range] will be even higher,” said Eva Greiner, chief engineer of the drive system. We’re promised that the Vision EQXX will be sent out into the real world to prove its ability to deliver those numbers.

    Engine made by Mercedes

    We also learned that the ultra-efficient 201bhp motor that spins the EQXX’s rear wheels is a radial-flow unit that’s been developed in-house by Mercedes based on technology it already uses. Work on this predates the company’s recent acquisition of Yasa, a British manufacturer of high performance axial flux motors. Merc’s next generation of compact electric vehicles will use this newly developed radial flux unit, with Schäfer confirming the plan is to also offer all-wheel drive by adding a second motor; we assume that axial flux motors will therefore be reserved for higher-performance models. The EQXX (and the production cars that will share its powertrain) were designed for efficiency rather than outright speed, but even using just one engine Greiner says it can go from zero to 62 mph in a respectable 7.0 seconds, although the concept’s top speed is limited to just 87 mph.

    The relatively modest output of the new motor is also what allows the battery to use air cooling rather than liquid. That might seem technically retrograde compared to the broader EV market, where almost all cars now use liquid cooling (with the Nissan Leaf being the notable resistance). But careful temperature management through what’s described as a cooling plate at the base of the cell block means the EQXX can do without the use of a more power-hungry cooling system, part of its incredibly frugal consumption of six miles per kWh. That’s about 50 percent better than Tesla’s longest-range, 405-mile Model S, which gets about four miles per kWh.

    Despite air cooling, Schäfer promises the new powertrain can still handle respectably fast charging speeds, with the ability targeted to sustain rates that will add at least 186 miles of range in 15 minutes by the time the production versions will hit the market. He also points out that if you have a 600+ mile battery, you won’t have to worry about recharging it nearly as often.

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