In the battle for range, Mercedes-Benz engineers have taken electric cars to the next level. A prototype of the brand has traveled 1,000 kilometers without recharging, with a battery similar in capacity to current models, the manufacturer announced on Thursday. Above all, this feat should soon benefit consumers. The model has indeed tested “for the first time technologies which will begin to arrive in series in two to three years”, assured Markus Schäfer, responsible for research and development on the board of the German group.
The car, dubbed “EQXX”, traveled 1,008 km between the group’s research center in Sindelfingen in southern Germany and Cassis on the French Riviera. It arrived after almost 12 hours, with the equivalent of some 140 km of range remaining. Connecting Germany to the south of France made it possible to test “several different profiles” of roads, temperatures and slopes, with in particular the challenge of crossing the Italian Alps, noted Markus Schäfer.
Less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometers
Equipped with a battery of around one hundred kilowatt hours (kWh), the particularly efficient prototype only consumed an average of 8.7 kWh per 100 kilometres, i.e. less than half of current comparable models. According to Mercedes, this experience therefore shows that going down “close to 10 kWh” is “absolutely realistic even for a production car in the near future”.
The recipe for success: aerodynamic profile, improved braking energy recovery, a lighter battery, solar panels on the roof to power the on-board systems, new lighter materials and a transmission system with very little loss of energy. The same car with “the most efficient thermal engine” would have consumed “certainly three to four litres” of fuel for 100 km, according to the official: the electrical energy consumed is equivalent to “about one litre” but the efficiency of the traditional transmission is less advantageous than electric technology.
A new battery chemistry by 2024
A new battery chemistry allows in particular to make it denser, therefore smaller and less heavy for as much capacity. This is “the next generation of chemistry”, which the manufacturer intends to deploy more widely by 2024.
Currently on the market, the electric S class EQS, current spearhead of the group’s luxury electric vehicle at more than 100,000 euros, consumes according to the approval between 16 and 17 kWh over 100 km – often more in real conditions. The autonomy is 780 km according to the WLTP standard. The models 3 and S of the competitor Tesla display up to 650 km of autonomy according to WLTP for a consumption generally between 16 and 20 kWh per 100 km.