VISION EQXX – taking electric range and efficiency to another level…

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, exterior

Range and efficiency are set to define the electric era. Outstanding range will make electric cars suitable for every journey and will also speed up the adoption by the public. Exceptional efficiency will create a virtuous circle of battery size and weight reduction, allowing Mercedes to go further with less. Indeed, the men (and women) at Mercedes-Benz are determined to lead the way.

The brand with the star is already leading the charts of real-world range with the EQS with 245 kW (electrical consumption WLTP combined: 19.8-15.7 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions: 0 g/km)[1], as evidenced by the recent Edmunds test where an EQS 450+ travelled 422 miles on one charge, 77 miles further than any other car previously tested.

But Mercedes-Benz is not resting. Driven by the idea of zero impact on our planet and a highly responsible use of green energy, the engineers are working intensively to take range and efficiency to a whole new level. The VISION EQXX is the result of a mission to break through technological barriers across the board and to lift energy efficiency to new heights. It demonstrates the gains that are possible through rethinking the fundamentals from the ground up. This includes advances across all elements of its cutting-edge electric drivetrain as well as the use of lightweight engineering and sustainable materials. Complete with a barrage of innovative and intelligent efficiency measures, including advanced software, VISION EQXX allows to explore new frontiers of efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, exterior

Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG commented:  “The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars. Just one-and-a-half years ago, we started this project leading to the most efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built – with an outstanding energy consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometres. It has a range of more than 1,000 kilometres on a single charge using a battery that would fit even into a compact vehicle. The VISION EQXX is an advanced car in so many dimensions – and it even looks stunning and futuristic. With that, it underlines where our entire company is headed: We will build the world’s most desirable electric cars.”

VISION EQXX – The EV road trip reimagined by Mercedes with a new technology blueprint for series production

There’s a reason why road trips have been a cultural touchstone for at least 70 years, telling stories from the highway in books, movies and music.

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, interior

The journey to electric mobility is a road trip; as exhilarating as it is challenging, as unknown as it is certain. The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is a vehicle designed for that road trip. It answers the progressive demands of a modern generation of customers for and emotionality through innovation. Part of a far-reaching technology programme, this software-defined research prototype was engineered by women and men with the creativity, ingenuity and determination to deliver one of the planet’s most efficient cars – in every respect. They did so using the latest digital technology, the agility of a start-up and the speed of Formula 1.

The result is an efficiency masterpiece that, based on internal digital simulations in real-life traffic conditions, will be capable of exceeding 1,000 kilometres on a single charge with an outstanding energy consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometres (efficiency of more than 6 miles per kWh).

Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX, interior

By ripping up the automotive engineering rule book, Mercedes-Benz has built a software-driven electric car that re-imagines the road trip for the electric era. At the same time, it presents a highly progressive interpretation of the fundamental Mercedes-Benz principles of modern luxury and Sensual Purity. Rather than simply increasing the size of the battery, the cross-functional, international team focused on maximising long-distance efficiency. They pulled out all the stops in drivetrain efficiency, energy density, aerodynamics and lightweight design.

“The technology programme behind the VISION EQXX will define and enable future Mercedes-Benz models and features,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes‑Benz AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Procurement. “As a halo car, the VISION EQXX firmly establishes Mercedes-Benz as the brand that pairs luxury with technology in the automotive world and beyond. And the way we developed it is as revolutionary as the vehicle itself. VISION EQXX has seen the best minds from our R&D centres work together with engineers from our Formula 1 and Formula E programmes. They are proving that innovations from motorsport – where powertrains are already highly electrified – have immediate relevance for road car development. We are challenging current development processes with innovative spirit and outside-the-box thinking. This truly is the way forward.”

The VISION EQXX is how Mercedes-Benz imagines the future of electric cars.

The VISION EQXX offers meaningful answers to pressing issues. For instance, sustainable materials throughout cut the carbon footprint considerably. Its UI/UX features a radical new one-piece display that comes to life with responsive real-time graphics and spans the entire width of the vehicle. Other elements of the UI/UX help the car and driver work together as one, and even use technology that mimics the workings of the human brain. And the software-led development process that delivered it revolutionises the way electric cars are designed.

This car is one outcome of an ongoing programme that is delivering a blueprint for the future of automotive engineering. Many of its features and developments are already being integrated into production, including the next generation of the MMA – the Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture for compact and medium-sized cars.

We will come back soon more in detail about this outstanding EQXX…just show you some photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stellantis also includes Citroën in its LCV Hydrogen strategy…

The development of fuel cell technology is now taking on a new dimension at CITROËN with the production of the first ë-Jumpy Hydrogen. Indeed, the CITROËN ë-Jumpy Hydrogen, assembled in France in the SevelNord-factory, is being adapted to hydrogen in the hydrogen-fuel cell expertise center of the STELLANTIS-group in Russelsheim, Germany…

This ë-Jumpy Hydrogen has therefore the same technical specifications as its Opel sister car, the Vivaro e-HYDROGEN. Like the Opel, it retains a 10.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, which provides dynamic peak power when required, for example, at start-up and under acceleration. Since the battery covers power needs in such situations, the fuel cell can run at optimum operating conditions.

Post-production : Astuce Productions

Citroën also wants their car to be put to the test in daily practice as soon as possible. This first ë-Jumpy Hydrogen will be delivered in the coming days to the SUEZ Group, which is preparing to test this model on a large scale at its Carcassonne site, a pilot site where SUEZ is investing in the production of green hydrogen, an important challenge for the coming years.

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Toyota goes forward with full global battery electric line-up…with Lexus following suit!

Toyota now takes the BEV market very seriously: Akio Toyoda, President of the Toyota Motor Corporation, seen on the photo above, today presented news concerning the company’s carbon neutrality strategy, by outlining its plans to offer 30 battery electric models by 2030 (Toyota & Lexus combined).

The company expects total global battery electric vehicle sales to reach 3.5M by 2030, and this announcement underpins the plan of for a 100% CO2 reduction in all new vehicles sales by 2035 in Western Europe.

Toyota’s bZ (beyond Zero) battery electric family in Europe is also soon to expand with introduction of a compact SUV as follow up to bZ4X launch. Not less than three battery electric ‘Toyota bZ’ vehicles are planned for Europe by 2025.

Toyota will further increase its investment in batteries from the 1.5 trillion yen – which was announced in September – to 2 trillion yen (15 billion euros).

The Lexus electrified sport will have formidable performance and range…

Now let’s turn the spotlight on Lexus:

Lexus aims for 100% battery electric mix in Europe, North America and China by 2030

The full name of the new Lexus BEV (that will be launched towards the end of 2022) was revealed: the Lexus RZ450e. See the photo here below…

The Lexus Electrified Sport (Sports BEV) concept was also shown: it offers impressive Lexus driving performance, with an acceleration time that will be in the low 2 second range and a cruising range over 700km.

There were also two other future concepts were shown: the Lexus Electrified Sedan (BEV Sedan), and Lexus Electrified SUV (SUV BEV). We show you the photos here.

The Lexus electrified sedan…

More interesting Toyota/Lexus news to come. Faithful readers know that we are the a satisfied owner of a midnight blue Lexus CT 200h, which proves to be not only frugal with an average consumption this year of 4,7 liter/100 km, but also utterly reliable and recently passed the yearly technical inspection with flying colours. A report will follow soon. Stay tuned!

The Lexus electrified SUV…

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Stellantis pioneers in the Hydrogen LCV market with its Opel Vivaro-e HYDROGEN.

Opel Vivaro-e Hydrogen (2021)

Here is some further Opel news, and it is an important feat for Stellantis: the first hydrogen transporter from a vehicle manufacturer which is ready to go. Indeed, the first Opel Vivaro-e HYDROGEN off the production line will begin its emissions-free work in the fleet of the German manufacturer of premium domestic appliances, Miele.

Clever concept: Long driving range, zero emissions, quick refuelling

The Vivaro-e HYDROGEN is based on the existing battery electric Opel Vivaro-e, the “2021 International Van of the Year”. With full tanks of hydrogen, the driving range is more than 400 kilometres (WLTP1). The 45 kW fuel cell is capable of generating enough power for continuous highway driving. It takes only three minutes to refuel with hydrogen – about the same time needed to fill up a conventional diesel or petrol vehicle.

The 10.5 kWh lithium-ion battery provides dynamic peak power when required, for example, at start-up and under acceleration. Since the battery covers power needs in such situations, the fuel cell can run at optimum operating conditions. The battery also enables regenerative braking, while the plug-in capability offers the opportunity to recharge the battery externally if necessary, e.g. at a charging station, providing 50 km of pure battery electric range. The Vivaro-e HYDROGEN features a three-phase on-board charger (11 kW) and a mode 2 charging cable as standard.

The Vivaro-e HYDROGEN demands no compromises on space compared to the combustion engine versions, offering up to 5.3 or 6.1 cubic metres of cargo volume. The fuel cell electric LCV is available in lengths M and L (4.95 and 5.30 metres) with up to 1,000 kilogrammes of payload.

Production takes place at Opel Special Vehicles (OSV) in Rüsselsheim, and, as said, makes Stellantis the first to offer a Hydrogen powered LCV to fleet users…

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We drove the Mercedes CLS 220 d: your stylish star…

You want a Mercedes with the panache of an elegant sedan with a coupé like character? Then the brand with the star has the car for you: the CLS.

Over the years, it has had its share of faithful followers, which has thinned somewhat due to the SUV trend.

But Mercedes is not forgetting this faithful clientele, and is offering now a latest facelifted generation of its elegant car with the star. We drove for you the smooth, lively and frugal 2 litre Diesel version. Indeed, tradition and timeless elegance go hand in hand here with durability and economy. Making it a true Mercedes-Benz automobile!

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The CLS is sleek, and its front end got even more impressive with this facelift, with the car gaining also overall in sheer elegance. The front bumper and air inlets breathe now the same styling language as the C, E and S-Class or other recent models in the MB range, and one also finds a star pattern in the grille. In the interior, the electronic age has also arrived. Two large screens under one single glass panel present you the wonders of the MBUX, providing indeed a delightful user experience.

MBUX actually means Mercedes-Benz User Experience. The whole system has a quite logical buildup, it is largely intuitive, and makes interacting with the car the proverbial breeze. The system is however so comprehensive that it is time well spent to familiarize yourself with it.

The system is touch based, but the user can use different ways to choose the functions, and use what suits her or him most. So you can use the central touchpad instead of the touch screen to swipe, touch or pinch and get the function or info you want.

This touchpad also features handwriting recognition for instance. Then you can also control the system functions via the steering wheel if you prefer that. Of course there is also voice control. The system will also save your personal settings, like for your seat, mirrors, etc. It can manage not two, but up to seven different user profiles!

The CLS doesn’t have the large central screen as in the latest C or S Class, but then you are spoiled with a palette of veneer/wood finishes, and by the way, the excellent seats can be had in a wide array of leather qualities and stitching patterns.

The legendary qualities of a state-of-the-art diesel…

Under the hood of our 220 d sits a… 2 liter diesel engine, 1950 cc to be exact, which develops a (very) healthy 143 kW or 194 PS at merely 3800 rpm. Even more important is the impressive torque of 400 Nm at 1600 rpm. Don’t forget, this sleek (almost) 5 meter long sedan does not have to lug around a battery pack, and weighs a slender 1800 kg. Performance is therefore impressive: 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in merely 7,5 seconds, top speed is 235 km/h. You guessed it, this Mercedes is decidedly an “Autobahnmeister”, or freely translated master on the Autobahn. High cruising speeds are indeed its absolute forte.

But it is equally well at home in tight urban traffic and the CLE will absolve quiet boulevard rides with utmost ease. The silky smooth 9 speed automatic sees to that. It shows again how outstanding modern diesel engines have become. Because they are not only quiet and docile, they are frugal too. It proved no trouble at all to achieve consumption figures between 5 and 6 liters/100 km, the manufacturer quotes an average consumption of 5,5 liters/100 km, according to WLTP standards. With a 50 litre tank, this means a useable range close to 900 km, and let’s admit, it is an outright blessing to see this range figures on your screen.

The engine is smooth, but then it’s not a six cylinder, but when you don’t use the full power, it remains as we said, quiet and unobtrusive enough.

That Mercedes is still offering diesel engines in its range has good reasons, besides its excellent qualities.

When we look more closely at our environment, and notably the “Green Europe” plan with its energy transition, we have to agree that, if this transition wants to gain speed and momentum in the coming years, it HAS to include the existing combustion engined cars presently on our roads. The German Automobile Association ADAC relies on the long term on e-fuels and hydrogen from renewable sources to achieve this inclusion. The good storage capacity and synergy effects in the context of the sector coupling of electricity, heating market and transport speak also in favor of both alternative fuels.

ADAC technology president Karsten Schulze says it clearly: “Millions of combustion engines are on the road in Germany (and the whole world) and have a long service life ahead of them. If the climate protection goals in traffic are to be achieved, a solution is needed for this inventory.”

Apparently, the German Ministry of Transport also sees it that way. In January 2021, it announced a renewable fuel subsidy program. Around 1.54 billion euros are available for this until 2024. According to the ministry, 640 million euros of this will flow into development and demonstration projects for the production of renewable fuels. Another 900 million euros are for the retrofitting or the construction of new generation plants as well as for the market launch of Bio or Electric energy based fuels…

The CLE 220 d breathes this philosophy, in the purest sense of the word. No plug-in hybrid version is available so far.

Superb comfort

This Mercedes with its elegant, classic styling scores of course very high in suspension comfort . The CLE rolls on the E Class platform, but here it comes very close to the flagship S Class. Even large potholes are absorbed superbly and the ride offered is truly sublime. Also the sound insulation is of top level. The aerodynamic qualities of this Coupé shaped sedan are excellent, and only the road/tire noises are heard when on the move. The steering is rather direct, and this big sedan/coupé is engaging to drive on winding roads, with some sporting driving pleasure to be had.

Of course, there are more powerful versions of this sleek CLS. Two more six-cylinder diesel engines are offered, of 265 and 330 PS respectively. Petrol engine versions are also possible, with 367 or 435 PS.

Due to its excellent comfort and sound insulation, the CLS is very relaxing car for hours on end, with of course the excellent seats also helping a lot. Admittedly, with its coupé shape, the passengers in the rear have less headroom, but when you are not taller than say 1,80 m, you are fine.

There is more than enough room for your luggage, with 520 liters available.

Conclusion

A fine, classic Mercedes, timelessly styled as a coupé/sedan, embodying all the superb qualities of the brand. Comfort, workmanship, luxury, state of the art electronics, infotainment and a drivetrain built for eternity. Add to this performance and economy, and you can agree with us that this car has it all.

Of course, it is not electrified (in the base diesel version) nor is it an SUV. But – in the light of what we said about the coming of age of E-based synthetic fuels – it certainly has a future and makes (a lot of) sense. It will give you many years of proud, noble and joyful ownership behind its wheel with that star…

Hans Knol ten Bensel