This year’s Paris Motor Show is all about electric mobility, with a real focus on bringing battery-powered cars to the masses. Along with Volkswagen, Mercedes used the 2016 Mondial l’Automobile to uncover its big production electric vehicle. Even though it has a fairly regular SUV silhouette, the Generation EQ debuts a new platform for the three-pointed star, and will be on the market in 2020.
As well as forming the base for a new SUV, the smart, modular platform underpinning the Generation EQ allows the wheelbase and track to be adapted to suit a full family of battery electric vehicles. That family will share the EQ name with the car launched in Paris, along with its new face and design language.
Let’s forget about the building blocks for a minute, though, because the finished product looks pretty good to us. With 300 kW (402 hp) of power and a whopping 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) of torque from its electric motor, Mercedes says it’ll hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than five seconds. Thanks to a 70-kWh lithium-battery developed along with a Daimler subsidiary company, range is pegged at 500 km (311 mi). That’s Tesla P100D territory, but the lighter Mercedes needs far less battery capacity to achieve the same result.
When the battery does go flat, owners will be able to top up using an induction charger, a wall box or a fast charger. At the moment, there’s no word on how long it will take to fully charge, but Mercedes is hoping fast charging technology will advance to the point where 300-kW chargers allow drivers to add 100 km (62 mi) to the car’s range in just 5 minutes.
As well as forming a base for Mercedes’ electric future, the Generation EQ will be loaded with a full range of active safety features. Along with current features like auto-emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, you can expect to see it push the limits when it comes to autonomous driving.
There are no details about exactly how it will do that, beyond a promise it will use "the intelligent combination of data from different sensors," but always "under the premise of safety and in compliance with the statutory regulations." You can also be sure Mercedes will do everything it can to make sure the Generation EQ is up to speed with its competitors in the automated driving stakes.
Although details about its autonomous driving systems are thin on the ground, the Generation EQ’s styling is a clear indication of what future electric Mercedes offerings will look like. Although it runs with a fairly traditional silhouette, the grille-free front end and slim lighting give the car a look that while definitely related to the rest of the Mercedes range, is also unique. Judging by the massive crowd clamoring to get a look, the new design is a winner.
Opening the door reveals a cabin that, although showy, isn’t necessarily too far from being production ready. The driver is faced with a 24-inch display responsible for speed and infotainment, and the steering wheel and center console uses touch controls, technology which currently features on the E-Class.
The concept’s light bars and instrument panel both change color based on the driver’s mood, a feature that has featured on countless concept cars but never ends up making it to production in a meaningful, useful way.
Mercedes says the Generation EQ will be on the market in 2020 when we’ll learn just how much carries over from the concept car’s design.
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