Mercedes-Benz, here to ignite your curiosity.
Mercedes-Benz, here to ignite your curiosity.
For Mercedes-Benz, it’s always the best or nothing. That’s why we share our motivation, passion, and goals and work towards making visionary ideas become a reality. We ourselves are inspired by outstanding individuals who are internationally renowned as experts, initiators, and people who take action. Whether extreme athletes, musicians, racing drivers, or models, they are inspiring pioneers, explorers and high achievers. With their passion and motivation, they overcome barriers and set new standards in their inspiring quest to make visionary ideas become a reality.
These stories are written to inspire us to continuously take on new paths and perspectives.
Wandering into the multi-level carpark at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport doesn’t immediately look any different to airport carparks you’d find in, say, Sydney or Melbourne. There are vast rows of cars awaiting their owners’ return, with the occasional rush of a jet engine fading away in the distance. Except the walls behind the cars parked here are lined with shoebox-sized charging outlets, connected via slim black cables to the hundreds of electric vehicles filling the concrete construction.
In some ways it’s like being teleported into the future. More than half the new cars being sold each year in Norway can now be recharged and driven on electricity, and the road network is fast adapting to life with electrons rather than fossil fuels. In one corner of the grey expanse is a line of EQCs, the mid-sized Mercedes-Benz SUV that is leading the brand’s electric charge; early deliveries are starting now in Europe. They look thoroughly familiar, the five-door layout in keeping with the latest family-friendly SUVs that dominate everything from suburban driveways and city streets to the modern school pick-up.
Part of the EQ technology-brand – EQ denoting “electric intelligence” – the EQC cuts a similar silhouette to the popular GLC. But the AMG styling that will be standard on cars sold in Australia is embellished with distinctive gloss black panels and more aerodynamically efficient alloy wheels, each providing clues as to what’s going on beneath the panels.
Instead of an internal combustion engine the EQC 400 4MATIC has two electric motors, one for the front wheels and one for the rears. Between them they muster 300kW of power and 760Nm of torque, healthy numbers by any measure. Lining the floor is a bank of lithium-ion batteries that provide 80kWh of electricity, enough for up to 450km range (NEDC combined) between charges. More than that, the EQC is an important pillar in the future-thinking CASE strategy from Mercedes-Benz, which focuses on Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Services and Electric – the future technologies shaping the cars we drive.
Towards a carbon neutral future
The EQC is also the first of seven full battery-electric vehicles planned by Mercedes-Benz by 2022, on the way to a carbon-neutral future within 20 years as part of Ambition 2039. Despite its significance, there are elements of familiarity to the cabin of the EQC, from the crisp metal buttons and dials to the familiar digital screen stretching from the instrument cluster to the centre. There’s also the latest application of the intuitive MBUX control system, allowing voice operation with natural speech, touch control on the central pad (with haptic feedback) or direct input into the 10.25-inch touchscreen.
It doesn’t take long in the plush surrounds to realise the EQC lives up to its name. Entering a destination into the navigation has the computer plotting all available route options to calculate which will be most efficient, both in time and energy. As well as charging stations, it considers weather and traffic conditions and even how many hills you’ll encounter, all of which can impact the driving range of an electric vehicle.
The different driving modes of the EQC are also the most advanced of any car. Four levels of energy recuperation determine how aggressively the electric motors reverse their flow, in effect braking the vehicle while also recharging the battery. But it’s the Auto drive mode that quickly becomes our favourite as we head towards the fjords that are a standout of the stunning Norwegian landscape.
Utilising data gleaned from the traffic sign recognition camera and navigation data, the car adjusts the level of regeneration. Enter a lower speed zone, for example, and the EQC will automatically increase energy recuperation, like you’re squeezing the brakes. Similarly, descending a hill it will apply more regeneration, for one-pedal driving. It even keeps an eye on other vehicles, taking every opportunity to reverse the flow of electricity and improve efficiency.
That cleverness flows through to the electric motors, too. While identical in their basic makeup, they have different software tuning to broaden the scope of the vehicle. The front motor is tailored more to economical motoring, providing much of the propulsion in gentle driving. But utilise the full power potential and the rear motor is more active, helping accelerate the EQC from zero to 100km/h in as little as 5.1 seconds.
Fleet footed in every sense It wasn’t long ago that that was considered AMG-type acceleration; accordingly, the EQC never lacks for thrust and provides a satisfying promptness to any prod of the throttle. The addictive torque rush re-asserts its playful personality.
Yet it’s equally agreeable winding down the pace, the relaxed charm and impressive refinement of the electric drivetrain making for a serene driving atmosphere. That calmness is matched with one of the most comfortable suspension systems on a modern Mercedes-Benz, the ride supple yet beautifully controlled.
The EQC never feels ponderous, instead attentively pointing at a corner and rising to the occasion of successive bends. With so much of its weight slung down low, the centre of gravity helps to cement superb cornering confidence. It amounts to a car that blends cutting-edge electronic smarts with traditional luxury thinking, a delightful environmentally friendly companion that is as competent and comfortable as it is exciting and high-tech. Rolling back into Oslo after a day of driving through diverse conditions – tight towns, flowing country roads and freeways – we divert the EQC into bus lanes to circumvent traffic, taking advantage of the privileges afforded to EVs in Norway. A glimpse of driving in the (near) future.
IT’S NOT every day you’re offered the chance to ride shotgun as history is being written. For the inaugural wave of future owners of the Mercedes-Benz EQC, this was an opportunity they will long be talking about. As the EQC – the very first Mercedes-Benz electric production vehicle – glided around a go-kart track on the outskirts of Melbourne’s CBD, the group revelled from the passenger seat in the smooth electric power delivery. They lapped up the zen-like serenity of the luxuriously appointed cabin, and basked in the knowledge that not a drop of fossil fuel was burned during their exclusive prologue to the world of all-electric mobility.
Just a few hundred metres away, on a nearby freeway, thousands of vehicles could easily be seen inching their way through the morning peak-hour crawl; the accompanying noise and smell conspicuously contrasting with the historic moment all but silently unfolding before their eyes. “It didn’t feel like an electric car, it felt like a Mercedes,” reported one delighted customer afterwards. Said another: “I get the style, I get the speed, but now I’m going to get the environmentally friendly aspect as well!” They were not the only ones to walk away impressed.
The EQC’s arrival in Australia coincided with the lead-up to the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix and there was one driver keener than anyone else to get to grips with the EQC – Lewis Hamilton. The five-time F1® champion was handed the EQC key to drive himself and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1® Team boss Toto Wolff from the team hotel to a special evening at the Mercedes me Store Melbourne, and walked away seriously impressed. “I was not expecting it to have so much power, it’s like 407 brake horsepower (300kW) – the delivery of the power is so smooth,” Hamilton told the audience assembled at Mercedes me. “It’s great to see how Mercedes-Benz is investing so heavily into it. Mercedes don’t know how to lose, so when they set their eyes on something – they do it better than anyone else. ” While Hamilton was busy admiring the performance, Wolff was taking note of the luxurious interior. “It’s really awesome. Once you drive it, it’s like a Mercedes inside,” he says. “I cannot really imagine that we would drive anything else in a few years.”
The EQC also made an appearance at the Australian Grand Prix, where it was the key display at the salubrious Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, just metres from the track where Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas streaked to a 1–2 finish in the season-opening race. All weekend, lounge guests had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the family-sized SUV that sits at the sharp end of a Mercedes-Benz promise to have an electrified option in every model in the range by 2025.
In a schedule befitting that of a Hollywood A-list celebrity, the EQC was also on display at the Mercedes me Store, and made appearances in Sydney and Brisbane too, as part of a whirlwind roadshow. These pop-up appearances offered more prospective customers the opportunity to get to know the EQC better and hear about the overarching EQ strategy that underpins the company’s future electrification plans.
Say hello to cleaner, faster and more flexible mobility
Say hello to cleaner, faster and more flexible mobility
The way in which we travel between home and work, between cities and even across continents will be entirely transformed in the coming two decades. In fact, the reality of super-fast, clean and technically advanced new forms of mobility could be here in as little as 20 years, if regulators keep pace with technology developments, the audience heard at the ‘Know the Future’ event series at Mercedes me Store in October.
This bold new vision for the mobility of the future was debated at the Mercedes me Melbourne, featuring expert panelists including André Dutkowski, senior manager product Marketing, Strategy & CASE at Mercedes-Benz Australia; Chris Woods, Bosch Australia regional president, Chassis Systems Control; and Sara Luchian, business strategy director at Virgin Hyperloop One.
Electric motoring is here – the EQC
The panellists unequivocally agreed that the future of mobility is undoubtably electric. With Mercedes-Benz introducing its first electric vehicle, the EQC, onto Australian roads soon, the topic of electric powered mobility was timely.
“It [the EQC] is the first of a breed of seven electric vehicles under the EQ brand,” said Dutkowski. “We’re covering all segments in the next two to five years. We want to make it [electric vehicles] as normal as possible and not something that is a science experiment. Making an SUV shows what we want to achieve – and we will be covering all SUVs and beautiful sedans.”
Dutkowski added that electric motoring is just one feature of a future of clean, flexible mobility. “It goes further, on top of that, we really want the cars to make our customers’ lives easier. Customers will have access to the fastest charging networks in the market. Customers might be able to share vehicles through apps. Or, they might be able to purchase discounted Hyperloop ticket though their car and pay for it on the Mercedes account.”
New transportation, improved lifestyles
People could well find themselves with more time on their hands soon, too, thanks to futuristic new methods of transport. Luchian outlined the Virgin Hyperloop One’s vision of transporting people between cities through high-speed, high-frequency, low-passenger volume pods. And Bosch Australia’s Woods explained how the company is partnering with Mercedes-Benz on developing automotive systems tailored for the Australian and New Zealand markets that will eventually give drivers time back in the car to do other tasks.
“We’re talking about connecting cities – by doing that, you have the potential to transform entire regions,” said Luchian. “People can access more affordable housing or commute between major cities. That offers opportunities for education, accessing to housing and healthcare. It changes cities into commuter stops,” she said.
A hyperloop is a new form of ground transport that could carry both passengers and freight. It consists of pods that have had the air removed, reducing friction so they can move at high speeds. The nature of the pods mean they can operate at high frequency, carrying fewer passengers than, for instance a train, but operating more regularly.
Californian-based Virgin Hyperloop One faces regulatory challenges, however, Luchian, conceded. “We’re years away, not decades…we intend to get certification by 2024,” she said. “It depends on the [local] government, but we’re aiming for full passenger launch by late 2020s.”
Also facing regulatory challenges are automotive vehicles closer to home but the pace of technology development means that regulatory change will have to happen. Bosch Australia’s Woods said “we’re a number of years away from full automation, where, for instance a driver could be sending emails while ‘driving’ the car to work.”
While transformation will happen first in Europe, followed by the US and China, change closer to home is inevitable, too. Bosch is currently partnering with Mercedes-Benz on automotive systems tailored for the Australian and New Zealand markets – a project that requires significant and ongoing research and development. “Mapping is important – we need to be able to localise the vehicle through high definition 3D maps,” said Woods.
He added that local conditions vary greatly across the globe. “The new p-turns on Hoddle Street [in Melbourne] are a challenge for automotive cars,” he said. “And Australia’s definition of a highway is very different from Europe, especially Germany. In Australia we are much more restricted with speed limit, but we also have rural roads, concrete barriers, no barriers and vegetation. We need to try and make cars deal with these different scenarios.”
While the road ahead for new forms of transport and mobility could have some twists and turns, what is clear that there is no escaping the future. It will be cleaner, greener, more flexible and intuitive than ever before.