With a 466-mile range and an eye on the entry-level market, Mercedes-Benz’s new concept car could develop into an affordable EV that eats into Tesla’s share of the market.
The Concept CLA Class, which charges 248 miles in just 15 minutes, is a “forerunner for an entirely new all-electric segment of entry-level vehicles at Mercedes-Benz,” says Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. “This new model family is inspired by a generation of car buyers who want that unmistakable Mercedes-Benz feel, with more features, even greater comfort and safety and the most advanced technology.”
Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA Class concept car (Credit: Mercedes)
Mercedes did not reveal the price or release date for the new line, which will have four models: A four-door coupe, two SUVs, and a “shooting brake,” which is sort of a cross between a sports car and a station wagon, as The Drive explains.
Of the five EVs Mercedes currently offers, the EQB SUV is the cheapest, starting at $52,750 in the US. It competes with the $48,000 Tesla Model Y, another electric SUV and the world’s top-selling vehicle. If Mercedes’ new line falls within the $40,000-$50,000 range, it could be a serious competitor to both the Model Y and newly refreshed Model 3.
The Concept CLA Class runs on an in-house developed powertrain, dubbed the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA), which reduces the carbon footprint of battery cell production by 40%. Mercedes differentiates itself with a heightened focus on sustainability, which is one reason PCMag rated it the best luxury EV brand of 2023.
“[Drivers] seek a sustainable choice that is a cut above the rest,” Källenius says.
“MMA is set to play a major role in accelerating the ramp-up of the Mercedes-Benz electric fleet,” says Mercedes. It also enables bi-directional charging, or using the vehicle’s battery as a portable power source for other devices and even homes.
Customers will choose from two battery chemistries: A high-density option and a lower-density (read: cheaper) lithium-iron phosphate option. Tesla also offers two battery options, but has not yet achieved the speedy charging Mercedes advertises for the new line.
A new 800-volt configuration “facilitates a high level of electrical endurance,” powering up 248 miles in just 15 minutes. That’s a welcome improvement over the 30-60 minutes it takes most EVs to do the same today, depending on the charging station’s energy output. But it’s not the best we’ve seen; Chinese company CATL says its new battery can charge 250 miles in 10 minutes, or five minutes faster. Mercedes did not say where it’s sourcing its batteries.
A new operating system, dubbed MB.OS, promises to turn cars into “an entertainment and gaming center, a productivity zone, a private oasis, even part of a server farm and the energy grid – an integral part of life.”
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A new three-screen “MBUX Superscreen” can be customized to driver or passenger preferences. It offers “advanced real-time graphics” for gaming and 3D navigation. A digital art gallery will help those who invested in NFTs get more out of them by “connecting the customer’s personal NFT wallet and enabling them to browse an exhibition.”
MB.OS also connects to the MMA battery powertrain, populating the dash with range-related information as well as autonomous driving visualizations. Mercedes says the MMA is “under development” to perform level 2 autonomous driving on “virtually all types of roads”—not just highways.
“Automated driving systems in vehicles based on the MMA platform will offer best-in-class driver assistance,” Mercedes says. “For example, to aid the driver when changing lanes on multi-lane roads, to automatically maneuver into and out of tight parking spaces, and to prevent or reduce the severity of collisions in an increasing number of situations.”
Design-wise, the Concept CLA Class “reinterprets iconic elements of the brand’s rich design heritage to craft a whole new face of Mercedes-Benz,” says Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Mercedes. “Here, the sporty forward lean of the distinctive shark nose from the 50s and 60s pairs with a new signature graphic for the electric age.”
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The post Watch Out, Tesla: Mercedes Unveils ‘Entry-Level’ EV Concept Car first appeared on www.pcmag.com