Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA Class Updates VISION EQXX Tech for a 466-Mile EV
The engineering marvel that was the VISION EQXX was always meant to come to some sort of production vehicle, and it could bring incredible efficiency to the new CLA Class.
Over ten years ago, Volkswagen built a small number of ultra-efficient ICE-powered vehicles called XL1. VW never put these sleek teardrops into mass production, but the automaker proved it could solve the engineering challenge that Europeans call the “one-liter car.” This isn’t measuring displacement but is a way to describe a vehicle that can go 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a liter (0.26 gal.) of fuel. The XL1 was small and it was a bit rickety in the way limited-production vehicles sometimes are, but it was unquestionably efficient.
At the IAA Mobility show in Munich this month, Mercedes-Benz will introduce the Concept CLA Class, a “close-to-production” reworking of the current CLA design that the company already is calling a “one-liter car” for the electric age.
Mercedes-Benz has revealed that the ultra-efficient powertrain in the new EV was “directly derived from the groundbreaking VISION EQXX program” that led to the development of a car that was able to travel more than 1,000 km (621 miles) on a single charge of its 100 kWh battery. The VISION EQXX proved itself an efficiency champion during a drive from Germany to Italy in April 2022 that translated to 8.7 kWh/100 km (7.1 kWh per 62 miles). Mercedes-Benz said the VISION EQXX lithium-ion battery’s energy density is 200 Wh/kg and it has an energy efficiency of 95%.
These are all impressive numbers, but they came from an engineering experiment. The new Concept CLA Class is the show-car bridge between the VISION EQXX and an upcoming production-model CLA EV. The EQXX’s DNA and technological advances are why the new Concept CLA Class will be able to travel a claimed 466 miles (750 km) on a charge (WLTP rating) and have a consumption rate of around 12 kWh/100 km (5.2 mi/kWh), Mercedes-Benz said. An 800-volt system with high electric efficiency means the Concept CLA Class can fast charge up to 248 miles (400 km) in 15 minutes. Bidirectional charging allows the Concept CLA Class to provide Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) or Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) electrical power.
The Concept CLA Class previews two other aspects of the company’s upcoming EVs: an all-new Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA) platform and an entirely new vehicle operating system called MB.OS. Mercedes first talked about the MMA to the public in spring 2020 and said in early 2022 that the new platform – designed for compact and mid-sized “entry luxury” vehicles – would be used in a production model in 2024. Mercedes-Benz said the MMA platform was designed to reduce value-chain CO2 emissions by over 40 percent in line with the company’s Ambition 2039 plan to, “to achieve net carbon neutrality along the entire value chain in our fleet of new vehicles in 2039."
“We will massively elevate our offering in this [electric-first] segment, developed from scratch on our new, dedicated MMA platform,” Mercedes-Benz Group AG chairman of the board of management, Ola Källenius, said in a statement. “All of these models are designed to fulfill one mission: Redefining every aspect of what customers can expect in this format.”
The new MB.OS will bring a bit of artificial intelligence to future Mercedes-Benz EVs. The software will be able to learn about the vehicle’s users, “adjusting to their habits and preferences,” the company said, as a way to heighten the enjoyment of experiencing the EV. Mercedes-Benz explained that MB.OS divides its attention between four domains: infotainment, body/comfort, automated driving and driving/charging.
MB.OS is not a minor update. After debuting the software to the public in the Concept CLA Class, Mercedes-Benz said it “will roll out MB.OS across all product lines and re-use the platform through generations in order to leverage scale effects.”