Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Electric Shape-Shifter
EQXX Boasts 600 Miles of Range
In their race to find ever more efficiency and range, designers and engineers of electric vehicles leave no stone unturned. While almost all EVs currently on sale offer more than enough range for customers’ daily commutes, “range anxiety” remains a psychological barrier to purchase. But what if an electric vehicle offered a range of over 600 miles – or 1,000 km? That’s more than almost any gasoline-powered car available on the market, and enough to quell anyone’s worries about charging on long trips. With 600 miles of range, you could essentially drive all day without stopping (that is, if you have an iron-clad bladder…).
The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX, a concept car launched in late 2021, achieves a range of over 600 miles – and it does so not through the use of a giant battery (which brings with it giant charging times), but instead through lightweight construction and, especially, clever aerodynamics.
A Body That Morphs At Speed
Aerodynamic drag can have a huge impact on range. On a regular long-distance drive, a typical electric vehicle dedicates almost two- thirds of its battery capacity to cutting through the air ahead, which is why the Vision EQXX has a slippery drag coefficient of 0.178.
That the EQXX is a wind-cheater is evident from a first glance. But, the smooth-flowing body is revolutionary in another way: it actually changes it shape at speed to optimize its aerodynamic efficiency at all vehicle speeds.
A huge amount of work went into integrating the painstaking passive and active aerodynamic features into the Vision EQXX. Its party trick is a complicated retractable rear diffuser – a powerful example of the collaboration between design, aerodynamics and engineering. The diffuser, which curves across the entire rear end of the car, deploys at higher speeds when the air becomes turbulent and increases drag. At low speeds, it retracts to fit seamlessly into the bodywork, preserving the balance, proportions and lightweight aesthetic of the rear end.
The moving rear diffuser presented Mercedes’ engineers with a significant challenge. The seemingly simple mechanism had to function properly in all conditions, had to weigh next-to-nothing, and had to instantly retract in event of a rear-end collision. Not only does it move, but it’s packed with sensors.
It’s All In The Details
Vision EQXX has a number of less obvious, but equally important, active and passive aerodynamic details, such as its small frontal area. While it’s a large car, its frontal area is actually less than that of today’s compact CLA. The rear track is about three inches narrower than the front, creating an overall teardrop shape. The air curtain/air breather in the front bumper pairs with the wheel covers to eliminate aerodynamic separation from the front wheels – the air bends smoothly around the car as a whole. And while all that is going on, air pathways guide additional cooling air over the front, opening cooling shutters only when necessary.
Efficient wheels and tires are optimized for rolling resistance and aerodynamics. For the Vision EQXX, Mercedes-Benz engineers worked in cooperation with Bridgestone, creating a Turanza Eco tire with light weight and with environmentally-friendly materials to enable ultra-low-rolling-resistance. The tire design also features aerodynamically-optimised sidewalls to match the covers mounted on the 20-inch forged-magnesium wheels.
Efficiency Is The New Currency
The sum total of these remarkable details is a car that looks sleek and futuristic, but not unrealistic. While the Vision EQXX is a concept car, you can imagine how its ideas could be implemented on a normal road car, and contribute to significantly more driving range, increased efficiency, and increased adoption of electric vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz’s holistic approach means more range from less energy, and also continued luxury and convenience with less impact on the environment, and more electric mobility with less waste. It’s a look at what luxury cars for the electric and digital era will look and feel like.