Mereceds-Benz announced the new EQ electric SUV crossover win a 13,880 word news release, which we have tried to cut down. The EQ got two sets of electric motors a 200 mile range, “Hey Mercedes” voice recognition, fast charging in 40 minutes and garnered so much excitement without knowing the prices, that Tesla stock fell. Pricing for the EQ is expected to be near the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla X around $70,000. The Tesla stock price also fell because of the lowering of $7,500 tax credits and a sell order from Goldman Sachs. If the EQ is as dreamy as the Mercedes B-Class electric, Tesla truly has a prime competitor.
As the first Mercedes-Benz model to be launched under the new product and technology brand EQ, the EQC features an all-new drive system development with compact electric drivetrains at each axle. These give the EQC the confident and dynamic driving characteristics of an all-wheel drive vehicle.
To reduce power consumption, the electric drivetrains are configured differently: the front electric motor is optimized for best possible efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear motor adds sportiness. Together, they generate an output of 402 hp and a maximum torque of 564 lb-ft.
Mercedes-Benz engineers have enhanced noise comfort with a number of measures. In the EQC the powerpacks are isolated by rubber mounts at two points: where the powerpack connects to its subframe and where the subframe connects to the body. This effective isolation is supplemented with insulation measures. As a result, the interior of the EQC is extremely quiet.
The lithium-ion battery, which has a usable energy content of 80 kWh supplies the vehicle with power. The power consumption and range of electric vehicles depends very much on the driving style. The EQC supports its driver with five driving programs through DYNAMIC SELECT, each with different characteristics: COMFORT, ECO, MAX RANGE, SPORT and INDIVIDUAL for an individually customizable program. In the more economical driving modes, the haptic accelerator pedal that prompts the driver to conserve power plays an important role. The driver is also able to influence the recuperation level using paddles behind the steering wheel.
As standard, the EQC is equipped with a water-cooled onboard charger (OBC) with a capacity of 7.4 kW, making it suitable for fast AC charging at home or at public charging stations.
Charging at a home wallbox is up to three times faster than at a domestic power socket. It is faster still with DC charging – which is standard for the EQC – for example via CCS (Combined Charging Systems) in Europe and the USA. Depending on the SoC (status of charge), the EQC can be charged with a maximum output of up to 110 kW at an appropriate charging station. In around 40 minutes, the battery can be charged from 10 – 80 percent SoC (provisional data).
The multimedia system MBUX: with EQC-specific functions
The EQC features the innovative multimedia system MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience – which has numerous EQ-specific functions such as the display of range, charge status and energy flow. EQ-optimized navigation, driving modes, charging current and departure time can also be controlled and set via MBUX.
The MBUX touchscreen display has a special EQ menu where numerous EQ features are grouped. Alternatively the user can access the EQ menu of the MBUX system directly using a hard key in the lower left control panel. Thanks to natural language recognition, the EQ-specific voice control helps the driver to operate the EQC.
Intelligent services: Relaxed travel from start to finish
EQ with Mercedes me connect provides comprehensive services for the electric mobility of today and tomorrow. The most important new services and functions of the EQC planned for market launch include:
Pre-entry climate control:This ensures that the vehicle interior is at the desired temperature on departure. It can be programmed directly via MBUX or via the Mercedes me connect App. A sophisticated system with a heat pump and electric heater boosters pre-climatizes the interior for optimal comfort in the cold winter or hot summer days.
The EQ-optimized navigation bases its calculation on the fastest route, taking into account the shortest charging time. The route planning also responds dynamically to changes, and can take place both offboard and onboard, externally (via the Mercedes me connect App) and within the vehicle. Thanks to EQ-optimized navigation, Mercedes-Benz customers can easily find charging stations, and Mercedes me Charge gives them convenient access to the charging stations of numerous providers.
Active and passive safety: EQC-specific safety concept
The EQC is equipped with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driver assistance systems. In the Driver Assistance Package, these include new functions such as predictive speed adjustment when approaching traffic: when traffic is detected, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC® reduces the speed as a precaution.
The EQC also meets the highest requirements with respect to passive safety: in addition to the usual, extensive program of crash tests, Mercedes-Benz applies further, particularly stringent safety standards to the battery and all component parts carrying electrical current. These standards exceed legal requirements. The vehicle structure of the EQC has been adapted to suit the special requirements of the electrical components and battery, and is configured to achieve the usual high safety level. For example, a new subframe surrounds the drive components located in the front section, and this unit is supported by the usual mounting points.
Mechanical protection of the battery: the high-safety design begins with the installation position of the high-voltage battery beneath the vehicle floor. The energy storage unit is surrounded by a stable frame that can absorb energy. Deformation elements are installed between the frame and the battery, and these are able to absorb additional forces in the event of a severe side impact. A battery guard in the front area of the battery is able to prevent the battery from being pierced by road debris.
Electrical protection of the high-voltage system: the extensive experience of Mercedes-Benz with high-voltage drive systems has led to a multi-stage safety concept that deploys in the event of an accident. The high-voltage system automatically shuts down, according to the severity of the accident. There are also shutdown points where emergency teams can deactivate the high-voltage system manually.
Testing: Endurance tests around the world
By market launch, 200 prototypes and pre-production vehicles of the EQC will have covered several million miles across four continents (Europe, North America, Asia and Africa). The test program comprises more than 500 individual tests. Like all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the EQC must pass all of the demanding test programs. There are also special tests for the electric powertrain, the battery, and the interplay of all powertrain components.
In the process the test experts are able to build upon the extensive findings from their digital testing work, used to ensure both the buildability of the vehicle and for the simulation of crash behavior, aerodynamics and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness). In addition there are intensive tests on numerous test rigs at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in Sindelfingen. The ratio between digital and real testing is roughly 35 to 65 percent.
Production: Preparations in full swing in the Bremen plant
Production of the EQC will start in 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen. The new EQC will be integrated into ongoing series production as a fully electric vehicle, and the very latest production technologies will be employed.
The instrument cluster and media display (two 10.25-inch displays standard) are housed behind a shared, continuous glass surface to form a large, free-standing screen. There is a touchpad in the center console as a further means of controlling many vehicle functions. The optional 64-color ambient lighting impressively illuminates the instrument panel, with LED lights coursing through the entire cockpit and across the deck with the air vents.
The EQ character of the interior is accentuated by a brand-specific color scheme that is unique in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio. High-grade materials such as leather, plus modern trim elements in an aluminum look or with natural grain wood, convey the familiar, high Mercedes-Benz quality.
A new, ultra-fine surface structure of the standard MB-Tex dashboard is pleasant to the touch and extends across the dashboard and upper doors. Also new is a futuristic, textile-like structure in metallic silver-grey. This new Progressive Luxury is further enhanced by elegant highlights in rose-gold.
The information of the instrument cluster and media display is easily legible on the large, high-resolution screens. Showcasing elements in an emotionally appealing manner underlines the comprehensibility of the control structure and impresses with brilliant pixel-perfect graphics.
Depending on mood or to suit the chosen interior, the user has a choice of three different styles:
- Modern Classic is a further development of the classic display style in an elegant and light material mix.
- Sport has a high-tech turbine look with sporty black/yellow contrasts.
- Electric Art presents its digital look in reduced form. The visible color changes explain and thrill in equal measure. The glass dials change from rose-gold in Drive mode to white, and to “Electric Blue” during recuperation. The media display clearly presents functional aspects of the energy situation, including energy flow or the power consumption history.
One of the strengths of MBUX is its intelligent voice control with natural language comprehension, which is activated by the keyword “Hey Mercedes.” The new Voice Control supports many multimedia functions (destination input, phone calls, music selection, writing and hearing messages, weather forecast), as well as numerous convenience functions such as climate control or lighting.
Conventional voice control systems in cars call for certain fixed commands from their users. However thanks to natural speech recognition, MBUX’s Voice Control obeys virtually any command and recognizes and understands nearly all sentences in the areas of multimedia and vehicle operation, of course also including EQ-specific ones. For example “Where is the next charging station?” is understood, as is “Where can I charge the battery?”
The intelligent language assistance is activated either via a button on the steering wheel or with the command “Hey Mercedes.” It’s not the human who has to adapt to the machine, but the other way around. Indirect speech is also recognized, for instance if the user says “I feel cold” instead of giving the clear command “Temperature to 72 degrees” in order to operate the climate control. The temperature is then increased by one degree, or lowered by one degree on hearing “I am hot.”
The Voice Control is also capable of learning. It tunes into the user and their voice and also understands non-native speakers better. Also, the software models on the server learn new buzzwords or changing use of language with time. The system also no longer answers stereotypically, but varies in the dialogue output too. In short: It is not the driver who must learn the voice commands stored in the vehicle, but rather the vehicle that learns the voice commands of the driver.
The fundamental way the language assistant operates: the voice input is freed from background noises, compressed and transmitted. The voice control is a hybrid system. In other words, it uses both onboard software and the cloud to understand speech as well as possible and respond to the user’s requests.
Both the computer in the vehicle and the server evaluate the data and send a reply. The system decides which reply is the most likely, then within a few seconds the reply/reaction follows. This means that in contrast to many other assistants, the language assistant can also answer certain requests even when there is no internet connection.
In typical series production, the joining of the powertrain to the body is called the “marriage.” One decisive innovation is the battery-joining center where the EQC undergoes a second “marriage” following installation of the two electric motors in the bodyshell. This is where the EQCs are equipped with a battery for the first time. The body is suspended from a C-carrier and deposited on a frame. Support arms raise the battery to the vehicle’s floor from below, and an employee monitors the automatic bolting in place.
In parallel with this, production of our own batteries for the EQC is coming on stream at the expanded battery plant in Kamenz (near Dresden) Germany.
Worldwide production of electric vehicles under the EQ brand
Alongside Bremen, the Sino-German production joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC) is preparing to start production of the EQC for the local market in China. As it does for the C-Class and the GLC, Bremen acts as the center of competence for production of the EQC in other locations. BBAC is part of the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Other production locations for future Mercedes-Benz EQ models are the Mercedes-Benz plants in Rastatt (Germany), Sindelfingen (Germany), Tuscaloosa (USA) and Hambach (France):
- The Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen will be the center of competence for battery-electric models in the executive and luxury class.
- The Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt will be the competence center for production of the compact EQ models.
- A further, compact electric vehicle under the EQ brand will also be produced by the Hambach location in France in the future.
- In the future, SUVs under the product and technology brand EQ will be produced by the US plant in Tuscaloosa (MBUSI, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International).
- A compact electric vehicle will also be produced in Beijing alongside the EQC.