Mercedes-Benz reveals 1000km-range VISION EQXX
Mercedes-Benz has revealed the EQXX – a 1000km-range (620 miles) coupe/saloon with an energy consumption of less than 10kWh per 100km (6 miles per kWh).
However, this isn’t just a case of enlarging the battery – the designers used the latest digital technology to maximise long-range efficiency. The battery pack in the VISION EQXX holds almost 100 kWh of energy, yet has 50 per cent less volume and is 30 per cent lighter than the EQS. The use of ultra-thin roof panels liberates an extra 25km, while the use of ultra-low rolling resistance tyres and lightweight magnesium wheels also do their bit.
The car cleaves the air with a drag coefficiency rating of just 0.17cd, and was designed with assistance from the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team. Mercedes-Benz says the car is software-driven – much of the design process was done digitally to reduce the carbon costs in its design. The car also incorporates recycled and plant-based materials to remove waste from landfills and further lower the carbon footprint.
The doors of the VISION EQXX are made from a hybrid of CFRP and GFRP (carbon- and glass-fibre reinforced plastics) components with aluminium reinforcements, meaning it’s light yet strong enough to withstand a crash. A new polyamide foam reinforces the lower edge of the door and optimises energy absorption in a side-on collision.
The electric system can draw additional energy from 117 solar cells on the roof, a technology 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 25km (around 15 miles) of range on long-distance journeys.
The solar energy is stored in a lightweight lithium-iron-phosphate battery, which supplies the climate blower, lights, infotainment system and other ancillaries.
The concept vehicle uses a novel heat pump that absorbs heat generated by the drive system and from the ambient air outside to keep the cabin toasty. “This multi-source heat pump recovers waste heat from the drivetrain, and has an external heat exchanger that draws heat from the ambient air,” Mercedes-Benz says. “Not available in previous Mercedes-Benz heat pumps, this feature increases the operating temperature range. This is especially handy for heating up the cabin quickly and is highly effective at lower temperatures. And 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".
Another feature present on Mercedes new concept is “cooling on demand”, which involves aero-shutters, coolant valves and water pumps to ensure that the electric drive unit, comprising the power electronics, electric motor and transmission stays at the most efficient temperature balance at minimum energy cost. “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,” Mercedes-Benz says. “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).”
So, when can we buy it?
This is just a concept at the moment, but it points the way to the future of Mercedes-Benz production cars in the future. With crossovers and SUVs very popular at the moment, the wind-cheating aerodynamics of this prototype can’t easily be applied to such upright machines. However, the novel use of recycled materials in the inside via leather substitutes, plus the thermal efficiencies, could certainly be implemented – sooner than you might think.