EQA elec­tric con­cept vis­its Mother City

LO­CAL LAUNCH/ Mercedes-Benz is chart­ing a path into an elec­tric fu­ture while tak­ing cog­ni­sance of the arty side of life, writes Phuti Mpyane

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

s re­cently as a few weeks ago the new MercedesBenz EQC, the brand’s first of a se­ries of fully elec­tric mod­els, was un­veiled.

With the aim of pro­duc­ing more than 10 elec­tric cars by 2022, MBSA has also con­firmed that a first edi­tion of the all-elec­tric EQC SUV will go on sale in SA by March 2019 and, in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the mile­stone, the lo­cal sub­sidiary brought an elec­tric car to show­case in Cape Town last week to in­tro­duce its elec­tric fu­ture. It wasn’t the new EQC, but the EQA con­cept car that was launched at the 2017 Frank­furt Auto Show.

Thank­fully, the nam­ing strat­egy is less be­fud­dling than in Merc’s reg­u­lar ranges. EQ de­notes Elec­tric In­tel­li­gence and will un­der­pin the full-elec­tric range while the sub­se­quent let­ter, in this case the A, sig­ni­fies a mem­ber of the brand’s com­pact ranges as in A-Class.

Es­sen­tially, the EQA con­cept rep­re­sents an elec­tric A-Class. A new elec­tric aes­thetic with new light tech­nol­ogy with laser fi­bres gives the EQA an in­ter­est­ing face. The de­sign is said to in­voke the cop­per wind­ings of an elec­tric mo­tor com­plete with the an­i­ma­tion of elec­tri­cal im­pulses.

In con­cept form the EQA is out­ra­geously long for a twodoor car, al­most the length of an E-Class. It’s a strik­ing de­sign with a wide stance and a low roofline. There is no cabin to speak of in this con­cept but we will see much of the mix of core Mercedes de­sign tastes and tech in the pro­duc­tion car, such as the dual-dig­i­tal screen dash lay­out and MBUX op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

The pro­duc­tion car that will roll off the Mercedes-Benz plant in Ham­bach, France — one of a num­ber of global fac­to­ries that will pro­duce MB elec­tric ve­hi­cles — is likely to shrink in size. Per­haps not by much but, lest we for­get, elec­tric driv­e­trains are sub­stan­tial and the bulk may be handy for hous­ing the lithium-ion bat­tery with pouch cells which will give the EQA a driv­ing range of about 400km.

Imag­ine the EQA along the abil­i­ties of the GLA: a ve­hi­cle with a hy­brid of uses for city driv­ing and sprin­kling of of­froad abil­ity with its elec­tric mo­tors — one mounted on each axle for an all-wheel drive pow­er­train.

Mercedes-Benz says we should ex­pect the EQA to pro­duce above 200kW in out­put and have two drive pro­grammes, Sport and Sport Plus, with the abil­ity to dis­trib­ute torque between the axles. Fur­ther­more, and it would be a fan­tas­tic fea­ture to have in pro­duc­tion form, Mercedes-Benz says the dig­i­tal black panel grille of the EQA con­cept car changes its look ac­cord­ing to the se­lected drive pro­grammes.

Ex­pect the EQA and other Mercedes-Benz EQ ranges to ar­rive in this mar­ket, and MBSA has al­ready be­gun prepa­ra­tions and so­lu­tions to deal with elec­tric-car own­er­ship.

Jo­hannes Fritz, co-CEO of MBSA, says that the EV up­take has been slow and has a niche ap­peal lo­cally, so ini­tially the com­pany in­tends col­lab­o­rat­ing with other brands on a charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture rather than build­ing its own.

House­hold charg­ing will take place at a reg­u­lar wall socket, with fast in­duc­tion or wall-box charg­ers en­vis­aged to charge in 10 min­utes for a 100km range. Pub­lic speed-charg­ers will be able to in­ject 80%-100% charge in about 45 min­utes.

For EV own­ers in Cape Town, Mercedes-Benz has col­lab­o­rated with de­signer Es Devlin to in­stall an in­ter­ac­tive de­sign sculp­ture known as Zoetrope at the Vic­to­ria & Al­fred Water­front. While wait­ing for your Mercedes-Benz to charge at Silo Square, you can pop into the sculp­ture, which is po­si­tioned near the charg­ing sta­tions below. The sculp­ture takes the form of a maze that com­prises a steel frame struc­ture clad in con­crete pan­els.

Aligned to Mercedes-Benz EQ vi­sions of zero emis­sions, the sculp­ture is off the grid and uses so­lar power to pro­duce 11.4kW of en­ergy with which it pow­ers the au­dio vis­ual equip­ment used in­side.

The con­cept is to mir­ror a jour­ney through Cape Town in both phys­i­cal and cul­tural terms. The grand idea is a global net­work of so­lar-pow­ered pav­il­ions spe­cific to their lo­ca­tions.


Above: With their long bat­tery ranges and strik­ing hi-tech styling, Merc’s EQ cars aim to con­vert cus­tomers to the elec­tric side. Right: The Mercedes EQA elec­tric con­cept car on show out­side the Zoetrope sculp­ture at Cape Town’s V&A Water­front.

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